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Decommissioning San Onofre Nuclear Plant May Take Decades

samzenpus posted about a year and a half ago | from the long-game dept.

Power 266

gkndivebum writes "Southern California Edison has elected to decommission the San Onofre nuclear plant after a failed effort to upgrade the steam generation system. 'Nuclear economics' is the reason stated for the proposed decommissioning. Other utilities operating nuclear power plants in the US likely face similar decisions when it comes to weighing the costs of upgrading older facilities. Allowing the reactors to remain in 'safe storage' for a period of up to 60 years will allow for radioactive decay and lower radiation exposure for the workers performing the demolition."

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Our Children's Children's Children Will Save Us (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#43955955)

From certain doom now. Just let them deal with it.

Re:Our Children's Children's Children Will Save Us (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#43956215)

Settle the fuck down. The fuel is removed, and everything that remains on site would not be classified as high level waste. There is no significant safety issue here and accident could cause a large scale release of radioactive material since the vast, vast, vast, vast majority of radioactive material is the fuel itself (and we are talking several orders of magnitude here). Decommissioning a nuclear plant is not that much more complicated than dealing with other types of non-radioactive hazardous waste. Here is a surprise for you: when a reactor is defueled, the containment is often left open to the outside environment (yes, the containment doors are open and you can look in). This is when a lot of work occurs at nuclear reactors since they don't have to worry about nuclear safety requirements or protecting the public from a radioactive release.

Re:Our Children's Children's Children Will Save Us (2)

crutchy (1949900) | about a year and a half ago | (#43956349)

There is no significant safety issue here

"i did not have sexual relations with monica lewinski"

Re:Our Children's Children's Children Will Save Us (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#43956543)

Okay Mr. Expert, explain the significant safety issues involved with a defueled reactor. If you are going to call someone a liar, you have to back up your statements. So go ahead and do it.

Re:Our Children's Children's Children Will Save Us (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#43957209)

Where are they going to store the spent fuel rods? In Japan the still highly radioactive spent fuel rods are stored in "swimming pools" of water which needs to be constantly replenished because of the heat generated by the radioactive decay of the old fuel rods.

Re:Our Children's Children's Children Will Save Us (1)

AK Marc (707885) | about a year and a half ago | (#43957415)

You know, if you just enclose the water, it stops evaporating. Even if not "hot", swimming pools still need constant replenishment to maintain a set level. During summer, I lose somewhere about one inch a week if I don't cover my pool. Don't know how much if I keep it covered all the time, as we are often using it.

Re: Our Children's Children's Children Will Save U (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#43957525)

Sealing the cooling pool won't solve the problem of dissipating heat. The cooling pools are actively cooled for a reason. Storing high level waste in a vessel whose temperature and pressure are increasing would be extremely hazardous.

Re:Our Children's Children's Children Will Save Us (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#43957615)

Dry cask storage [wikipedia.org] , dumbass.

Re:Our Children's Children's Children Will Save Us (1)

jackb_guppy (204733) | about a year and a half ago | (#43956235)

When Lucifer's Hammer hits, this beacon will help light up the dark for our children's children!

Re:Our Children's Children (4, Funny)

Seth (2925311) | about a year and a half ago | (#43957569)

I believe in making the world safe for our children, but not our children's children, because I don't think children should be having sex. -Jack Handey

Re:Our Children's Children's Children Will Save Us (3, Interesting)

VortexCortex (1117377) | about a year and a half ago | (#43956299)

[Our Children's Children's Children Will Save Us]

From certain doom now. Just let them deal with it.

Both my aunt and neighbor told me the same crap when I asked why they don't recycle. They'll be dead before the world goes to hell.
I went through their trash and recycled for them. Each time I was scolded for going through their trash. I said I would stop...
However, to each I also told that research in neuroscience, cybernetics, and stem cells will give us the ability bring our dead back to life by scanning in their brain. [youtube.com]

I promised that I would stop recycling for them, and also swore that if they do not start recycling that after they are dead,
I will have their bodies exhumed by whatever means necessary, and their brains scanned and I will bring them back to life
after the carelessness of people like them has caused the world they leach life from to truly "go to hell".

They both now have incentive to recycle, and have continued to do so; Even gotten some of their friends to recycle too.
These "God Fearing" people would throw the world away. It took someone putting the fear of life into them to change them.

Nuclear energy is most important. Once the last specs of coal and drops of oil are sucked from the Earth, we will look back at our fearful folly and think:
"All that useful material for making plastics and things, and the fools fucking burned it all."

It is time to realize the startling truth. You may literally have to live with the consequences of your actions forever.

Re:Our Children's Children's Children Will Save Us (1)

TapeCutter (624760) | about a year and a half ago | (#43956833)

Great little story. :)

Re:Our Children's Children's Children Will Save Us (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#43956887)

Landfill mining.

Re:Our Children's Children's Children Will Save Us (-1, Offtopic)

hairyfeet (841228) | about a year and a half ago | (#43957277)

You're not really changing shit, sorry, all you are doing is wasting time on something that in this case the free market will actually solve. I mean sure if you want to because it gives you a boost of smug? go right ahead, whatever, but again this is a problem that actually will solve itself.

You see, if you were to just follow the trail to its logical conclusion it will all make sense, now follow along. Where does all that waste go? Well due to the price of land most of the big cities end up sending it to poorer counties and states for burial...well what happens when those resources get scarce? Those poor states and counties are gonna be sitting on top of gold mines that's what! You burn the organics for power (I think Sweden or Denmark is already doing that and actually importing trash for that purpose) and use the power to process all those metals that will be quite precious at that time, I even read they are working on a microwave that will let you break down plastic into oil for reuse.

So as you see the garbage problem? Not really a problem, all those poor states taking that trash will be able to dig it right back out when the price is right so its gonna end up recycled any way you slice it, the only question is when and by whom, you are some county in Alabama.

Re:Our Children's Children's Children Will Save Us (2)

AK Marc (707885) | about a year and a half ago | (#43957447)

I read that much of the dumping grounds repaired and sold the used appliances. The "trash" wasn't worth repairing at US prices, but at 3rd world labor prices, it was worth it. So your trash is getting repaired, your same toaster in the recycle is getting melted down, and some 3rd world person will go hungry. So, throw it away for humanity! Or something like that.

Re:Our Children's Children's Children Will Save Us (-1, Offtopic)

edwardtao (2946835) | about a year and a half ago | (#43957295)

we are a leading manufacturer of concrete spun pole/pipe production line machinery, including centrifugal spinning machine for concrete poles , vertical extrusion type concrete pipe machine, concrete mixer, concrete batching plant, cement cilo , crane equipments and so on. we have won a wide praise for the competitive price and good quality of the products. www.shandonghaiyu.com

Three factors of dealing with radiation (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#43956025)

Distance, Shielding, and Time.

Why not use all three?

Re:Three factors of dealing with radiation (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#43956059)

distance = close to major population centers

time = major earthquake could hit anytime

shielding = pointless if Surinam destroys structure

Re:Three factors of dealing with radiation (0)

Nidi62 (1525137) | about a year and a half ago | (#43956093)

shielding = pointless if Surinam destroys structure

I don't think we have to worry about the smallest country in South America damaging a nuclear reactor in California any time soon

Re:Three factors of dealing with radiation (2)

r1348 (2567295) | about a year and a half ago | (#43957053)

In doubt, better invade.

Re:Three factors of dealing with radiation (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#43956233)

You don't really have to care about any of these. Once the fuel is out it takes very little time until the reactor is basically harmless.

Basically harmless = will not give you a lethal dose (but done eat your lunch from it and dont rub your genitalia on it)

The only real problem with nuclear power is the fuel. If pull out a rod that is "running" there is no vehicle on earth that can bring you close enough to touch it before you are boiled. :-) The radiation from these puppies is what takes so long to go away, that is the reason fuel damage is a big deal you get bits of fuel all over your systems so unless they have had a MAJOR fuel rod incident that people don't know about having the plant sit around "unloaded" for 60yrs is not a health problem.

Re:Three factors of dealing with radiation (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#43957721)

You mean radioactivity. "Radiation"--the colloquialism describing the dangerous stuff that you're bombarded with, as opposed to the formal meaning describing the propagation mechanics of said stuff--disappears pretty quickly, usually traveling near the speed of light.

The terminology has always bothered me.

IANANP, so possibly I'm totally wrong about the formal definitions.

we are not using distance at all (4, Interesting)

swschrad (312009) | about a year and a half ago | (#43956159)

for 50 years, the federal government has taxed nuclear fuel to build a permanent waste depository. where is it?

weasels.

Re: we are not using distance at all (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#43956199)

PRISM hard drives?

PRISM is in the cloud. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#43956827)

PRISM is the cloud. we know who you are, and we will send for you when we have room. be quiet now, and stay on topic.

Re:we are not using distance at all (5, Insightful)

hairyfeet (841228) | about a year and a half ago | (#43956317)

One word...NIMBYs. Frankly NIMBYs is why america will be fucked in the future, you can't get shit done here without the NIMBYs having a royal fucking shitfit so we either keep the pre-NIMBY shit running or do without, that really is the only choices we have.

The sad part is if we built the new design reactors and did a second reactor beside it that reprocessed and ran on the waste of the first? we could cut the waste problem down by so much that it would be a trivial matter, but again NIMBYs will never let that shit happen.

I would love to get some NIMBYs in a fucking room and just say "WTF are you doing? Are you living in a mud hut and doing without electricity? No, then STFU assholes" because the way the NIMBYs act you'd think power comes from the electric fairy because there is NOTHING you can build that the NIMBYs won't have a shitfit about..nuclear? "ZOMG radiation run!" fine we'll build dams then "ZOMG you'll kill teh fishies!" fine then we'll build fucking windmills, will you STFU about that? "ZOMG no, you'll kill the birdies and cause noise pollution!"...ARGH,

FUCK OFF you whiny bastards, we HAVE TO HAVE power to power to run those latte makers and iToys you love to play with and we can't get shit built with you assholes cockblocking every damned thing we try to have! Sorry if that comes off a little harsh but if you have ever talked to one you'd know there is NO right answer, they will have an objection to building ANYTHING near them, you'd have to build everything in fricking space before they would be happy.

Re:we are not using distance at all (2, Insightful)

crutchy (1949900) | about a year and a half ago | (#43956391)

as much as i agree that solar, wind, geothermal etc will never replace coal & nuclear for base load, governments have been corrupted by the nuclear industry to preserve the status quo of reliance on uranium and plutonium instead of investing in safer nuclear technologies like thorium that operate at lower pressures and have negligible half lives compared to heavier cousins so waste is less of a problem... thorium was proven in the 60's but killed pretty much immediately

Re:we are not using distance at all (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#43956495)

Pretty sure it was Carter that killed thorium.

Re:we are not using distance at all (1)

Stormthirst (66538) | about a year and a half ago | (#43956783)

Out of interest - anyone know why we've not re-visited thorium?

It's not like we need to recreate more nuclear weapons, which as I understand it was the original reason for choosing uranium in the first place.

Re:we are not using distance at all (1)

toQDuj (806112) | about a year and a half ago | (#43956991)

Because it is impossible to get funding for nuclear energy research these days. No money, no research.

Re:we are not using distance at all (2)

TheRealHocusLocus (2319802) | about a year and a half ago | (#43957419)

Out of interest - anyone know why we've not re-visited thorium?

There is no good reason, only various excuses people give when pressed on the matter. Some of the excuses are pretty lame, some are clever but are lacking in know-how, such as how different molten salt designs are from water reactors. Many excuses defer to fear of radioactivity, imaginary authorities who would never "permit" such a thing to come about. It's sad to witness.

Most commonly it's Mr. Nobody. "If thorium was such a big deal somebody would have made it happen by now." A whole generation seems to feel comfortable saying things like that. People were not saying things like that as steam power was conquered and harnessed.

Help us to find Somebody. The story begins here [slashdot.org] and here [youtube.com] .

Re:we are not using distance at all (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#43957487)

It was Nixon, and there is even an audio recording of his political machinations to favor the LMFR program, to support jobs in CA. The MSR program was being pursued by the director Alvin Weinberg at ORNL in TN. It was already on a shoestring budget, but when Weinberg began raising questions about the safety of LWRs (which incidentally he also invented), he was fired and the MSR program was axed.

Despite the paltry expenditures on MSR research, it produced results and held great promise. The LMFR program, much like the fusion program, has chewed through vast resources over the years and has yet to produce anything of value.

Re:we are not using distance at all (1)

Shavano (2541114) | about a year and a half ago | (#43956711)

FUCK OFF you whiny bastards, we HAVE TO HAVE power to power to run those latte makers and iToys you love to play with and we can't get shit built with you assholes cockblocking every damned thing we try to have! Sorry if that comes off a little harsh but if you have ever talked to one you'd know there is NO right answer, they will have an objection to building ANYTHING near them, you'd have to build everything in fricking space before they would be happy.

Not when they start thinking about the ground stations. Nobody wants to be near one of those.

Yucca Mtn (2)

Mr. Underbridge (666784) | about a year and a half ago | (#43956785)

for 50 years, the federal government has taxed nuclear fuel to build a permanent waste depository. where is it?

As much as I love blasting on our danged ole federal gummint, on this one I have to blame the NIMBY asshats in Nevada. You see, the Feds identified a pretty damned good place in Yucca Mountain. The place is geologically pretty stable, made of solid rock, and has a crazy low water table. Oh, and it's about 100 miles away from civilization, which in this case means Las Vegas.

The feds spent decades fighting the locals to get this done, until Obama finally capitulated to the NIMBYs as fronted by Sen. Harry Reid, killing the project and leaving a total lack of long term storage. Quid pro quo for something, no doubt.

Re:Yucca Mtn (1)

gkndivebum (664421) | about a year and a half ago | (#43956889)

A pretty good summary [wikipedia.org] of the sad story of the Yucca Mountain nuclear waste repository. I was briefly involved with that project in a past life when I worked for a defense contractor.

Re:we are not using distance at all (0)

mysidia (191772) | about a year and a half ago | (#43956879)

for 50 years, the federal government has taxed nuclear fuel to build a permanent waste depository. where is it?

It's in Obamacare somewhere.

Re: we are not using distance at all (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#43957601)

Nuclear power in the United States is subsidized in a number of ways. One of the most significant is the promise to permanently store all of the industry's high level waste permanently. I could find no reference to the tax you referred to, though I doubt that even if exists that it would be nearly large enough to cover the actual disposal costs.

why not sell it (1)

ozduo (2043408) | about a year and a half ago | (#43956167)

I'm sure the Chinese would buy it, Cuba or Syria or any of the hundreds of countries America has wronged. here's a dirty bomb just for the taking or a smart one with very little effort.

Re:why not sell it (1)

crutchy (1949900) | about a year and a half ago | (#43956443)

I'm sure the Chinese would buy it

no doubt china already has a bunch of more modern remotely triggered nuclear devices on american soil... no need to buy something old and crappy

Re:why not sell it (1)

ozduo (2043408) | about a year and a half ago | (#43956455)

thanks, I didn't think of that, I just assumed they were planning to destroy America through hacking!

Re:why not sell it (1)

crutchy (1949900) | about a year and a half ago | (#43957425)

nah the hacking is just to provoke a reaction

This is crap (3, Informative)

erroneus (253617) | about a year and a half ago | (#43956183)

I have knowledge of this matter and I know it's crap. This is about negotiating with a supplier and throwing a tantrum. They have decided to cut off their nose to spite their face.

(If this sounds like a lot of opinion, it is...but I do have some knowledge on this matter. Once things are final, I'll be happy to share exactly what I know.)

For the moment, until things change, nuclear power is the only source that provides enough to keep things going without buring stuff and putting it into the air and everywhere. Already nuclear power has saved countless lives as they have safely displaced the amount of coal and gas to burn. Without nuclear power, the net carbon footprint of hybrid cars would be less than barely a net improvement over pure gasoline. Wind, solar, geothermal and others are not able to make it happen.

Anti-nuke people haven't been paying attention. But just about any way you look at it, nuclear wins. Sure it requires a great deal of care to handle it safely, but we've been doing nuclear in the US for a very long time with a pretty excellent record.

It disappoints me that greedy business interests are behaving this way. Until we have something better than nuclear, we need to keep nuclear going. (Shut them all down once we've got something better. It's not like I'm in love with the tech, but it's just so much better than burning stuff.)

Re:This is crap (2, Insightful)

nospam007 (722110) | about a year and a half ago | (#43956261)

"For the moment, until things change, nuclear power is the only source that provides enough to keep things going without buring stuff and putting it into the air and everywhere....Anti-nuke people haven't been paying attention. "

We were paying attention to Germany who shut down their reactors but nonetheless had enough solar and wind to export power to nuclear France when their reactors couldn't run because there wasn't enough cooling water in summer or frozen in winter. The also had their first day last year where wind/solar made enough to power the whole fucking country alone.

When such a wind-generator is obsolete, you don't have to guard it for 60 years, dismantle it for billions and guard the remains for a couple of hundred thousand years either. If it falls down, there's a dent in the shrubbery and unlike nuclear, they even have a fucking insurance to cover the damage.

Re:This is crap (5, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#43956365)

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

In 2012 The German electricity sector increased its coal usage by 4.9 percent over its coal consumption value of 2011.[43] This increase in coal usage was largely due to a power gap in Germany created after the nation shutdown 8 of its 17 nuclear power plants.[44] The shortfall in electricity supply from these 8 power plants, is primarily being filled by building more lignite coal burning power plants.

Yeah, real good job Germany, thanks for the CO2 increase...dicks.

Re:This is crap (3, Interesting)

thegarbz (1787294) | about a year and a half ago | (#43956409)

We were paying attention to Germany who shut down their reactors but nonetheless had enough solar and wind to export ...

hahahaha. Yes they exported something. It definitely wasn't solar and wind though.

Solar makes up a pathetic 3% of Germany's power in the summer months. Wind is struggling to crack 8% and that's in a country where you can see a wind farm from every other hill. I'm not sure where you're getting your data from but you may want to do this thing called research.

By the way your wonderful Germany who are abandoning nuclear power opened 2 coal power stations last year, and are planning to open 6 new ones by the end of this year. Yes that's right, your so presumed green country with green power to spare just built 6GW of coal fired glory and plan to open another 12 power plants by 2020. What a shining example of your argument. Germany hasn't even started making serious efforts to shut down nuclear yet but have already increased their coal consumption by 5% [bloomberg.com] .

Re:This is crap (3, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#43957147)

German physicist here. This is not quite true:

When Nuclear plants were shut down (drop in 2010-2011), this was mostly compensated for by renewables (and less total production). Also the further decrease in Nuclear power in 2012 was less than the increase of renewables. Yes, also coal increased in 2012, which is mostly attributed to the low cost of emission certificates. Natural gas dropped at the same time, so this is a shift because of changes in cost for different non-renewable energy carries.

Electricity production in Germany from 2009-2012 in TWh:
Nucelar: 134,9 140,6 108,0 99,5
Renewables: 94,1 103,3 123,5 136,2
Coal: 253,5 262,9 262,5 277,0
Natural gas: 78,8 86,8 82,5 70,0
All (including others): 592,4 628,6 608,9 617,6

Re:This is crap (3, Interesting)

AK Marc (707885) | about a year and a half ago | (#43957599)

What's hilarious is that as they push for solar, they are also pushing for bans (well, high taxes, 80%ish level) for solar panels imported from China. If China is selling at a loss, then buy them all, and resell them. The problem is that China is not selling at a loss, and the German (and US) makers can't compete. If they are really dumping, don't double the price with taxes, buy them all and put them on every house. Grid-tie them all together, and the home coverage would nearly fill the power needs. Having grown up in the US south, power needs spike as sun efficiency spikes, giving a nice correlation between need and supply.

Re:This is crap (1)

haruchai (17472) | about a year and a half ago | (#43957183)

IIRC, every one of those coal plants are intended to replace one that is end-of-life or soon to be. And the new plants will be significantly cleaner and more efficient.
I really wish that Germany hadn't decided to dump nukes and I'm guessing they may change their mind before all the remaining ones are shut.

One of the problems with phasing out coal is that there's been a subsidy on it since the 70s but that is slated to end by 2018. The major coal producers have stated that they'll shut their mines by then.

But Germany also has 5 or 6 power stations on the Dirty Thirty list - they should close or replace those before worrying about nukes.

Re:This is crap (0)

citizenr (871508) | about a year and a half ago | (#43956649)

We were paying attention to Germany who shut down their reactors but nonetheless had enough solar and wind to export power to nuclear France when their reactors couldn't run because there wasn't enough cooling water in summer or frozen in winter. The also had their first day last year where wind/solar made enough to power the whole fucking country alone.

AHAHAHAHA. Germany classifies coal plants "renewable energy" if they are cofiring. They use freshly chopped trees as "biomass". That "renewable" energy you might of read about was straight from Coal.

Re:This is crap (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#43957359)

Bullshit. Biomass plays a minor role in Germany. Renewables are mostly solar an wind. And yes, the recent decrease of nuclear power was compensated for mostly be renewables and not by coal. This is simply a lie, here are the numbers: http://de.wikipedia.org/wiki/Stromerzeugung [wikipedia.org]

Re:This is crap (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#43956763)

You realize that solar power makes 1/10th of the power in the winter than in the summer, right? It is a thing called the seasons. You take a couple of cosines and sines, and then integrate across the length of the day and then you find that you aren't making shit for power when you are sitting at 45 + 23.5 degrees relative to the solar flux in late December. So no, Germany isn't exporting solar during the winter. If you want a place that has decent solar power during all seasons you need to find a latitude near the Tropics of Cancer and Capricorn (but away from the ITCZ [wikipedia.org] which tends to block out the sun).

Re:This is crap (1)

AK Marc (707885) | about a year and a half ago | (#43957631)

(but away from the ITCZ which tends to block out the sun

There are a number of notable desers in the ITCZ, so I'm not sure how well that holds. The number of sunny days in an area is most important (still talking about the limited range of between or near the tropics).

Re: This is crap (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#43957619)

The nuclear industry has insurance in the US, it's just a very special kind. The feds provide a nice liability cap, and a insurance pool since the private sector isn't willing to insure this industry.

What does a hybrid car have to do with it? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#43956421)

Hybrid cards, with the exception of the nascent plug-in variety, have nothing to do with central power generation. They are about capturing waste energy otherwise lost in braking. I think you meant to say electric cars.

Re:What does a hybrid car have to do with it? (1)

AK Marc (707885) | about a year and a half ago | (#43957649)

All hybrids should be plug-in hybrids, or they shouldn't be able to use the "hybrid" name, as you said, "hybrid" carries no useful meaning, other than offering a guess as to the fuel economy.

Re:This is crap (2, Funny)

girlintraining (1395911) | about a year and a half ago | (#43956445)

I have knowledge of this matter and I know it's crap. This is about negotiating with a supplier and throwing a tantrum. They have decided to cut off their nose to spite their face.

We invented this technology and now, due to anti-nuclear regulations, we no longer have the people, resources, factories, or technical capability, to create nuclear pressure vessels or many of the components needed to build a reactor. Unless of course it's for the military. A single supplier, in another country, can "throw a tantrum" as you say, and deprive one of our major metropolitan areas with electricity.

And yet it's the fault of the electric company in your view, and the supplier in another's view. Well, bluntly stated -- where the fuck is my own government on this? Where's our own industry? Why can't we build our own damn nuclear reactors? Oh... right... anti-nuclear idiocy and impossibly high standards along with a morass of NIMBY government, red tape, etc. No... sorry, they didn't cut their nose off in spite of their face: Our government did.

Re:This is crap (3, Informative)

erroneus (253617) | about a year and a half ago | (#43956821)

The supplier is not throwing the tantrum. Take my word on that for now.

The government, the NRC, is doing the right thing in all of this. As I have been exposed to this industry and have been learning what's what and what goes on, I have learned a great respect for at least THIS government agency. Every NRC person has also had direct experience in nuclear technologies. And the thing about people who know and understand the tech, know what can happen when things go wrong and NO amount of bribery or being told to look the other way will cause them to compromise what they know very well is a potentially global disaster event.

I could go on and on about this. But I do know there are forces opposed to the NRC... to its very existence. It was preciselu the lack of an effective "NRC" in Russia that allowed Chernobyl to happen and even though their regulators weren't quite what the NRC is, the people who caused the disaster had to shop their idea for drill/demonstration around quite a bit before they could find someone stupid enough to take the risks they did.

For the moment, please understand that you don't understand quite what's going on over there. From what I know, the suppliers are acting properly and appropriately. I've already said too much. But I have to say it's a common problem where business cares more about their bottom line than about other, larger issues. I'm not saying that other parties are not at fault -- the reports are public and I invite you to read through them for further insight. There's plenty of blame to spread around. But this thing about shutting down two plants which are otherwise capable of being repaired and restored to a good, safe and reliable operation? Based on everything I know, it's not merely "nuclear economics." There's a lot more.

Personally, I believe as the next steps proceed, they might well be forced to change their idea about shutting those down. And the article makes it pretty clear that the "shutting down and packing up" is a far cry from destroying the things and clearing the land.

Re:This is crap (2, Funny)

girlintraining (1395911) | about a year and a half ago | (#43957005)

The supplier is not throwing the tantrum. Take my word on that for now.

I didn't say you were saying that. I said other people were saying that. I did not say that myself.

But I do know there are forces opposed to the NRC... to its very existence.

Yes. They're called capitalists, and left to their own devices, we'd all be swimming in our own sewage and slaves to mega corporations in some dystopic alternate reality. It's okay, you can call them out on it, I won't say anything.

For the moment, please understand that you don't understand quite what's going on over there.

I don't think it's really necessary for me to have intimate knowledge of the situation. Party A is pointing the finger at Party B. Party B is pointing the finger at Party A. And all the people living in the area, who need clean, cheap, reliable energy are getting... is the finger. I'm not really in much of a mood for caring much about details on it... Someone fucked up. And in cases of fuckups in this country, profit-oriented thinking is almost invariably the source of it. So... whoever thinks they're most entitled to profit is the at-fault party. I know, it's overly simplistic, it ignores all the details, but... it's surprisingly accurate. Unfortunately.

But this thing about shutting down two plants which are otherwise capable of being repaired and restored to a good, safe and reliable operation? Based on everything I know, it's not merely "nuclear economics." There's a lot more.

Well, I'm not in the position you are, so maybe, with specific information, I can be convinced otherwise, but "nuclear economics" is just a fancy way of saying someone who felt they should be making money on this isn't making as much as they feel entitled to. Now, as to who that is, or what complex bureaucratic clusterfuck surrounds that person so as to obscure their identity so we can grab our pitchforks and tar and feather the asshole... meh!

I have no problems with the NRC. I have no problems with the people in (what's left) of our nuclear industry. I have a problem with a government listening to morons, politicians, and businessmen, and ignoring the needs of its people. And those people, in that area, need electricity. They deserve electricity. There isn't a good reason why the largest economic power on the planet can't deliver turn of the last century amenities at an affordable, safe, and reliable way.

There are plenty of bad ones however. I suspect the bad one you're sore about in particular is the profiteering asshats who own the plant. I'm strongly inclined to agree with you, if that's your position, simply because past experience has shown me that in this country, the Almighty Dollar is the cause of almost every train wreck that makes the news and there's no evidence this one's any different.

Re: This is crap (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#43957657)

You're just wrong here. The US is producing reactors for export. Read up on the Westinghouse AP 1000 reactor. The largest issues the domestic nuclear industry faces in building new reactors are financial. Natural gas is cheaper and quicker to build. Natural gas turbines can come to full power in 20 minutes to respond to variable demand.

Re:This is crap (1)

crutchy (1949900) | about a year and a half ago | (#43956459)

Shut them all down once we've got something better

we've had something better for half a century... thorium

greedy business interests killed it

Re:This is crap (2)

Stormthirst (66538) | about a year and a half ago | (#43956845)

I thought they originally went with uranium, because you could build nuclear weapons from the waste. You can't do that with Thorium. So not greedy business interests, but more like the governments in a nuclear arms race. Much as I like to blame greedy businesses for the world's problems, I don't think this is one of those times.

Re:This is crap (1)

haruchai (17472) | about a year and a half ago | (#43957233)

Not greedy business but a shortsighted military-focused bureaucracy.
And don't be too quick to jump on the thorium bandwagon - it shows great promise but there are significant engineering challenges still to solve before it can reliably be used for Gigawatt scale power plants.

I expect another decade before the 1st plants are ready.

Re:This is crap (1)

crutchy (1949900) | about a year and a half ago | (#43957445)

there are significant engineering challenges still to solve before it can reliably be used for Gigawatt scale power plants

so it's no worse than uranium then

heh, "greedy business interests" (1)

swschrad (312009) | about a year and a half ago | (#43956805)

as if there were any other kind

US Epic fail (4, Insightful)

girlintraining (1395911) | about a year and a half ago | (#43956207)

Other utilities operating nuclear power plants in the US likely face similar decisions when it comes to weighing the costs of upgrading older facilities.

Yeah, my country unfortunately has a 60,000% idiot tax. We get massive amounts of food poisoning because people fear irradiated food. We pollute so badly that we've managed to kill large lakes and entire biomes in Africa because we're burning fossil fuel as our primary energy source when we were the ones that first created nuclear power. 4% of my fellow countrymen believe that shape-shifting reptiles are trying to control the government through political manipulation... another 7% "aren't sure". And we're reporting record numbers of people joining the Flat Earth Society, and have one of the lowest rates of acceptance in the theory of evolution of any industrialized country on Earth.

In short, we're morons. That's why nuclear power is so expensive here, and why we're letting these plants rot... it's stupid, pathetic, moronic fear of technology, science, and progress. And it's killing the planet. Literally. We are literally dying of stupidity.

Re:US Epic fail (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#43956279)

"massive amounts of food poisoning " What!?!? 70% of the people in your country get food poisoning daily?

I have told you a billion times, DO NOT exaggerate!

Re:US Epic fail (3, Interesting)

girlintraining (1395911) | about a year and a half ago | (#43956395)

"massive amounts of food poisoning " What!?!? 70% of the people in your country get food poisoning daily?

1 in 6 [cnn.com] americans get food poisoning annually. In Britain, about 5 million people [wales.nhs.uk] annually get food poisoning. The population of Britain [wikipedia.org] is about 63 million, or a rate of about 1 in 14.

I think a rate of over double in a country with similar eating habits, socioeconomic status, and climate, constitutes massive.

Re:US Epic fail (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#43957063)

So, if there is one mosquito in one hangar and six mosquitoes in another hangar. There is a MASSIVE amount of mosquitoes in hangar number two? (to clarify, a person eats at least three meals a day and many three snacks too. Lets say four consumptions a day times six people times 365 days in a year: 4 x 6 x 365 = 8760. 1 in 8760... massive? (and its probably not one in six, they tend to exaggerate to sell stories :-)

I have lived in the USA and I have lived in the UK and food poisoning is not a problem in any of the countries. (although I have read that scurvy was on the rise in the UK since so many kids never eat anything with vitamin C in it) And I am pretty sure the reason the few people who get food poisoning get it is not that their pepper or salad wasn't radiated. After you have radiated foodstuff it has to be hermetically sealed for it to have any effect. The main reason people get food poisoning is that they eat already cooked food that has not been cooled and refrigerated fast enough. (at least that the way it is in Sweden) I would theorize that we eat too clean food and our gut bacteria isn't strong enough to cope with a little snot or half a roach in the food now and then. (I took it for granted that we were talking about bacterial food poisoning since radiating does squat to arsenic)

Re:US Epic fail (1)

drinkypoo (153816) | about a year and a half ago | (#43957191)

I have lived in the USA and I have lived in the UK and food poisoning is not a problem in any of the countries.

you don't go out to eat much, do you?

Ironically, some of the few places that don't give me an ass-blasting or face-blasting good time are indian. Maybe the curry kills off the weak American pathogens, I don't know how it works. But it seems like about every time I go out lately I get sick. In California we literally now have a law saying that everyone who handles food at all has to be a certified food handler, you just used to have to have one in the restaurant. And it's still not enough. I had a spirited argument with my buddy's wife who has been a server about how servers absolutely must not come in if they are sick, and absolutely must wash their hands every time they come in contact with anything that might cause contamination, including touching their face or touching their hair. She seriously got mad at me for insisting upon this. This is who is serving your food when you go out in the USA.

Re:US Epic fail (1)

number11 (129686) | about a year and a half ago | (#43957435)

I have lived in the USA and I have lived in the UK and food poisoning is not a problem in any of the countries... And I am pretty sure the reason the few people who get food poisoning get it is not that their pepper or salad wasn't radiated. After you have radiated foodstuff it has to be hermetically sealed for it to have any effect. The main reason people get food poisoning is that they eat already cooked food that has not been cooled and refrigerated fast enough.

I'm not sure "food poisoning" is the best term, there are lots of ways food can make you sick, and sometimes it's not obvious that it was related to food. The way you describe is often what happens in food service (that, and poor sanitation). But there are lots of ways people get food poisoning. Sometimes it's because they (or their utensils or counter) touch raw chicken and spread bacteria to other foods (US poultry processing facilities are cesspools). Sometimes it's because the melons or lettuce or other food that doesn't get cooked comes from a farm where there is fecal contamination. With many foods (meat, prepared salad, etc.) food from many different sources is mixed together, so if a single one of those sources is contaminated, you've now widely spread the contamination. It can be because the plant's cooling tower has bacteria growing in the water. It can be in spices imported from who knows where (though irradiation is in fact used with a lot of spices).

And it can be very difficult to even figure out you've got a problem. One person here gets sick, another a few states over. Some get sick enough to seek medical help (or die), some just get a stomachache or diarrhea and shrug it off. Often the only way to know it's a widespread problem is by DNA fingerprinting the samples and comparing them. (Remarkably enough, states that do this DNA fingerprinting see a lot more food-borne disease than states that don't. Because the latter states don't know it's happening.) But that costs money, and can really only be done by the government (because there's no profit in it). And agribusiness doesn't want to tag foods with lot numbers that can be traced back to the original source, both because it costs money, and because if you start doing that, it's easier to find out that you've got a problem. And the USDA is in the business of promoting agriculture, so they're more of an industry mouthpiece than an independent government agency.

Re:US Epic fail (1)

Shavano (2541114) | about a year and a half ago | (#43957165)

"massive amounts of food poisoning " What!?!? 70% of the people in your country get food poisoning daily?

1 in 6 [cnn.com] americans get food poisoning annually. In Britain, about 5 million people [wales.nhs.uk] annually get food poisoning. The population of Britain [wikipedia.org] is about 63 million, or a rate of about 1 in 14.

I think a rate of over double in a country with similar eating habits, socioeconomic status, and climate, constitutes massive.

The British have a reputation for overcooking everything. Americans like rare meat. That may explain most of the difference right there.

Re:US Epic fail (-1, Flamebait)

rbanzai (596355) | about a year and a half ago | (#43956289)

It's nice to see another monument to short-sightedness being dismantled. The atomic era of investing heavily in a technology that burdens human beings with the most poisonous substances on earth for literally thousands of years needs to be put to rest and this is how we do it. Decades of hearing pro-nuclear people hem and haw about what will be done with nuclear waste is enough. Decades of continuous safety violations by the companies that run nuclear power plants is enough. The promise of truly safe nuclear power will never be delivered upon due to human greed and incompetence.

Re:US Epic fail (4, Insightful)

girlintraining (1395911) | about a year and a half ago | (#43956343)

The atomic era of investing heavily in a technology that burdens human beings with the most poisonous substances on earth for literally thousands of years needs to be put to rest and this is how we do it.

Yeah, worrying about a few hundred tons of waste we can easily bury deep in a mountain somewhere and forget about it for "literally thousands of years" is clearly inferior to cooking our planet to the point that it is no longer inhabitable.

. The promise of truly safe nuclear power will never be delivered upon due to human greed and incompetence.

No, it'll never be delivered upon because most of the human population will have died off in the next 150 years or so because we'll no longer have enough fertile land to support our current population due to global climate changed caused by fossil fuels. That's the entire planet, you know... billions are going to die from starvation because of fucking morons like yourself that are so worried about a few kilotons of nuclear waste you're willing to let the whole planet die. Also, coal power plants produce more nuclear radiation yearly than all the nuclear accidents in the entire history of the human race including our weapons testing and use.

But yeah man, let's keep trumpeting the "It has to be perfect" mantra, while we choke our planet to death with less than perfect fossil fuels.

Re:US Epic fail (2, Informative)

doom (14564) | about a year and a half ago | (#43956653)

It's nice to see another monument to short-sightedness being dismantled.

Actually, what's probably short-sighted is dismantling it at all. The right way to decommision a nuclear plant is almost certainly to fill the containment with concrete and lock the gate. Making them rip it all apart and cart it somewhere else after waiting only 60 years is pretty silly: it raises the costs without improving safety much. I think we do this largely for psychological reasons...

(All this, by the way, makes the inflammatory headline for this story more than a little nutty: it could take *decades* to decommission it-- well yeah, they're allowed to wait 60 years for the hottest of the hot stuff to cool, why not?)

The atomic era of investing heavily in a technology that burdens human beings with the most poisonous substances on earth for literally thousands of years needs to be put to rest and this is how we do it.

It sure would be nice if we could put this meme to rest, but I'm not holding my breath. (1) radioactive stuff exists already. (2) we gather it up, concentrate it, and stick in a reactor where we generate power by making it less radioactive. (3) We then have the option of deciding what to do with the residue. We can reprocess it, bury it, whatever-- you don't have this option for the waste from the other major competing power sources out there.

By the way, heard about global warming? Wouldn't it be interesting if the 70s anti-nuclear activists were forced to admit they made a wrong call and may have helped doom the planet? But like I said, I'm not holding my breath.

Re:US Epic fail (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#43956327)

against stupidity the gods themselves contend in vain

Re:US Epic fail (1)

crutchy (1949900) | about a year and a half ago | (#43956497)

shh... the rest of the world has been patiently waiting for you morons to kill yourselves. don't fuck it up now.

Re:US Epic fail (1)

Stormthirst (66538) | about a year and a half ago | (#43956907)

Also you have such a high percentage of religious people compared to other first world nations. The two are linked.

Re:US Epic fail (1)

drinkypoo (153816) | about a year and a half ago | (#43957163)

We get massive amounts of food poisoning because people fear irradiated food.

I don't fear it, it's just dead. The enzymes in the food are dead. It's crap.

4% of my fellow countrymen believe that shape-shifting reptiles are trying to control the government through political manipulation... another 7% "aren't sure".

Well, they do act like we expect killer mutant lizards to act... the government, I mean.

In short, we're morons. That's why nuclear power is so expensive here, and why we're letting these plants rot...

Let the plants rot until we find a way to deal with the waste.

And it's killing the planet. Literally

Well no. The planet is a ball of stuff. It's not alive. We're killing ourselves, and probably taking most of the complex life forms with us.

Re:US Epic fail (1)

hey! (33014) | about a year and a half ago | (#43957397)

It's not fear of nuclear power that makes it uneconomical. It's cheap fossil fuels. Back in the 70s it was the Saudis opening the oil spigot; today it's fracking natural gas and of course coal.

Which is not to say irrational fear hasn't created nuclear problems -- particularly when it comes to developing long term storage facilities for high level radioactive waste. We also give fossil fuels a break on externalized costs because we're familiar with the and therefore fear them less than we probably ought. But still, it's hard to supplant a mature, entrenched, *cheap* technology.

Re:US Epic fail (1)

ThePeices (635180) | about a year and a half ago | (#43957555)

I thought you were joking about the Flat Earth membership increase, so I did some research and discovered it to be shockingly true.

Then I read the Flat Earth FAQ on their website....

I now exist in a dual state of utter horrified disbelief that people can be so gullible and stupid, and total despair at the state of Humanity

You are right, were morons. We deserve whatever we reap from our stupidity. The world would be a better place without us.

I used to have such high hopes for the future of Humans, now I have a total lack of faith in Humanity.

I thought the point (2)

Dereck1701 (1922824) | about a year and a half ago | (#43956277)

I thought the point of such extensive containment structures was that they would never be destroyed? Just remove the fuel and any equipment that isn't cemented into the structure and leave the rest. I imagine the general thought-lines behind a lot of nuclear plants was to simply to continue to build new reactors as the old ones had to be decommissioned and continue to use the same generators, transmission equipment & facilities with incremental upgrades over the years. But I think I see why they're going the decommissioning route with this one, even if it was economic to build some new reactors this plant is sandwiched between the Pacific and a major highway. The reactor structures themselves are not more than 400' from the ocean, at least on the face of it this place is another Fukushima under the wrong circumstances.

Re:I thought the point (5, Informative)

nojayuk (567177) | about a year and a half ago | (#43956403)

The licencing for nuclear reactors in the US, the UK and a few other countries requires that the site be returned to greenfield status after the reactor(s) on site are decommissioned. That means total demolition of the structures including the metre-thick reinforced concrete containment buildings.

In some cases if the site is to be reused immediately then the reactors are demolished quickly with special handling of the slightly radioactive pressure vessel which has suffered neutron activation. It costs a little bit less to wait a few decades for that radioactivity to decay at which point the demolition can go ahead with no radiation-specific problems. The real problem during demolition in either case with older (1970s vintage) reactors is the presence of asbestos in pipe lagging, tank insulation etc.

Re:I thought the point (1)

crutchy (1949900) | about a year and a half ago | (#43956511)

it's much better to remove the highly radioactive parts, move them across the country on major highways in poorly shielded vehicles so that the relatively benign structure can be heavily shielded for a thousand years... you never know when Godzilla may spring up from inside there, and the containment structure may stop him!

Re:I thought the point (1)

crutchy (1949900) | about a year and a half ago | (#43956517)

Godzilla

woops of course i meant Gojeera

What is the REAL cost? (2, Insightful)

kurt555gs (309278) | about a year and a half ago | (#43956529)

Nuclear proponents are always running around yelling wind and solar pawer can't compete on a per KW basis. Well, not if you skim off the profits and leave the cleanup to taxpayers!

Take the total lifetime cost ( including what is usually shifted onto us after the investors skeedaddle with the profits ) and divide that by KW's produced.

Hogwash! Nuclear power is too expensive to be sustainable.

Re:What is the REAL cost? (1)

iggymanz (596061) | about a year and a half ago | (#43957029)

nonsense, it's far cheaper than coal if you count health problems

Re:What is the REAL cost? (1)

kurt555gs (309278) | about a year and a half ago | (#43957073)

Tell that to the Japanese.around Fukashima.

Re:What is the REAL cost? (1)

kurt555gs (309278) | about a year and a half ago | (#43957125)

And while we are at it, lets add in all of the cost for nuclear power plant accidents both public and private funds and divide that by the the number of operating plants. Let's see, Three Mile Island, Chernobyl, Fukushima, smaller costly but less publicized accidents.

Total cost per KW including all these is WHAT?

How adding in the wasted money for that hole in the desert in Nevada that won't be used.

The true cost of Nuclear power is more than any other method.

Re:What is the REAL cost? (1)

kurt555gs (309278) | about a year and a half ago | (#43957373)

And lastly, lifetime medical costs for all the people irradiated or otherwise injured in the above accidents. Again divided by the number of operating plants.

Isn't marketing great. Nuclear power only adds up if you hide the real costs.

Re:What is the REAL cost? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#43957607)

Nope!

It's a drop in the goddamned bucket compared to all the money derived from the sale of the power.

Re:What is the REAL cost? (3, Informative)

iggymanz (596061) | about a year and a half ago | (#43957451)

Japanese killed because of radiation in Fukushima-Diachi: zero. Total count of Japanese with radiation induced health problems around Fukashima: zero.

I felt a vibration (1)

guitarsynth (827709) | about a year and a half ago | (#43956535)

I felt a vibration ah ah aah

Why not build a new Gen3 plant at the site? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#43956687)

Nuclear technology has progressed by leaps and bounds since this plant was designed. Why not build a new Gen3 plant at the same site? People were already used to a nuke plant so shoehorning a new one it would be easier politically.

Re:Why not build a new Gen3 plant at the site? (1)

hpa (7948) | about a year and a half ago | (#43956919)

Why not build a new Gen3 plant at the same site? Because we now know the site is seismically unsuitable. Otherwise it would have been a good idea.

Technical debt (2)

manu0601 (2221348) | about a year and a half ago | (#43957067)

There is a growing technical debt with nuclear decommissioning. Debts can turn into bubbles, I wonder if it is the case here. Do we really know how much power is needed to decommission a nuclear power plant? How many years of the plant's production is it worth?

Re:Technical debt (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#43957621)

great point since we know it takes decades to decommission and it is now an energy sink instead of a source. But I doubt all the light bulbs in the place or cooling pumps over the decades will add up to a years production when both units were running.

nice beach about to get nicer (1)

JimtownKelly (634785) | about a year and a half ago | (#43957265)

Camped at San Onofre several times duing my early teens. Beautiful beach but the reactor was creepy.

they played games and lost (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#43957605)

what they did was instead of replacing the steam generator piping according to original designs after decades of wear they hired a company to design a new system. The game as they manipulated the cost so it was just under the NRC trigger value which would have resulted in a NRC engineering review. And guess what, the design was flawed and the new pipes wore in just a few months. From what I read there was never any talk of going back to the original design but instead fought the NRC and local/State regulators to let them do patch fixes and run at a lower power level.

The really scary part is how they worked around the system to try and get changes made and then fought everyone calling them on the trickery. They should be taken over and shareholders given gov bonds in place of the stock instead of letting them continue running a public utility.

100 Decades (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#43957659)

Wow ! What a Californication Jobs program ! Everybody gets to fuck and everybody fucked.

Har de Har Har

Thank fracking. (1)

loshwomp (468955) | about a year and a half ago | (#43957681)

Thanks to fracking, natural gas is cheap, and unfortunately will probably remain so for a while. Yeah, it "only" emits about half as much CO2 as burning coal, which is like saying I'm "only" kicking you in the head once today, instead of twice.

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