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The magic number is 32… tell you why…

It was thirty-two years ago today that Three Mile Island had it’s partial meltdown and caused our atomic energy industry to freeze in its place. I remember when it happened as I watched the news on television… I was 32 years old at the time… 32 is the number again!

At the time I was living in Connecticut and was near the Connecticut Yankee plant, which had been commissioned in 1968 and then closed in 1996 (after much protest from residents of Hartford and Middlesex Counties… Me included… after the 1979 Three Mile Island incident.) It was decommissioned  in 2004 and demolition of the containment dome was completed the week of July 17, 2006 (which gives you an idea of how long it takes to remove one of these plants… I don’t know where the spent fuel rods are, but they are probably still at the Haddam Neck, CT, site.)

And now, 32 years after Three Mile Island the news is reporting that the radiation from Fukushima‘s ravaged plants is now higher than they thought it would go… and there was a report of some very minor radiation detected in rain… in Massachusetts!

I hope that 32 years from now, when I am long gone, my grandsons will be able to look at their world and find that all this nuclear power is no longer necessary and science and politicians and, dare I say it, Corporations have found a way to clean everything up. Judging by the disorganized opinions circulating now and the inferior technologies dealing with the problem, I doubt that it will happen.

Cartoon(s) of the Week – The Loss of Nuclear Power = The Politics of Oil

Kevin Siers in the Charlotte Observer:

…of course, we often wait until it’s too late…

– and –

Dana Summers in the Orlando Sentinel:

… but the effects on our corporate structure could be significant…

– and –

Signe Wilkinson in the Philadelphia Daily News:

… despite their ignorant promotion…

– and –

Chris Britt in the (Springfield, IL) State Journal-Register:

… it could be a while before we get a new nuclear plant in this country…

– and –

John Darkow in the Columbus Dispatch:

… but don’t worry, there is always oil.

Some Wednesday Night Science…

I’ve been looking at statistics which relate death rates to the type of power that is used (got into this without thinking while reading information on the 4 damaged nuclear reactors in Japan… and the knowledge that there are two more reactors, 5 & 6, which could be next).

To begin, however, we have to go over a unit of measurement. I’m not a science guy and am probably prone to mistakes… you real scientists and math wizards can correct me in the comments or by e-mail… so bear with me. Most of us are aware of the Kilowatt Hour (KWh). which is the basic unit of measure in our electric bills. To deal with the power/death ratio, however, we are going to need a bigger unit – power put out for a whole society is massive – and that unit is the Terawatt Hour (TWh), which equals 1,000,000,000 Kilowatt Hours.

Ok… if you’ve digested that, here’s a chart I picked up at NextBigFuture.com:

As you can see, death rates per TWh are much, much higher annually in world figures in the burn and smoke power sources. Look at solar, wind, hydro and, unfortunately, nuclear are quite low … the figure of deaths relating to “banqiao” under Hydro are quite high, but this relates to a one time occurance:

  • 1975 failure (in Typhoon Nina–Banqiao dam failure (Chinese history))
    Banqiao Dam

    Location of Banqiao Dam, China

    The Banqiao Dam had been built on the Ru River in the early 1950s as part of a flood-prevention and electricity-production program aimed at controlling the Huang He (Yellow River). At a height of 387 feet (118 metres) and with a storage capacity of some 17.4 billion cubic feet (492 million cubic metres), it was designed to withstand a “1,000-year” flood (i.e., a flood level expected…

As to the danger of nuclear promoting a lower death rate, it should be noted that the Japanese tragedy is not considered a “nuclear accident”, but the result of earthquake and tsunami damage.

Every day when I walk out in the sun and the breeze, I think that I am experiencing the great power supplies that are with us all and that, for the most part, we ignore. After all the years we have known about the problems with coal and oil…and beside pollution we are also involved in wars in the middle east which we probably wouldn’t be were it not for oil… and have known what could be done with sun and wind, I cringe. People are so stupid.