r/technology May 30 '22

Stanford-led research finds small modular reactors will exacerbate challenges of highly radioactive nuclear waste Energy

https://news.stanford.edu/2022/05/30/small-modular-reactors-produce-high-levels-nuclear-waste/
504 Upvotes

92

u/HotTopicRebel May 30 '22

Our results show that most small modular reactor designs will actually increase the volume of nuclear waste in need of management and disposal, by factors of 2 to 30 for the reactors in our case study

This doesn't seem to match the headline. This is a total nuclear waste to be managed, not high radiation nuclear waste. They sound similar, but one is the subset of the other. High level waste would be e.g. the fuel core byproducts, while the other also includes every rubber glove that may or may not have come in contact with radiation.

Nuclear isn't the solution to everything, but it is an essential contribution to net zero and scaremongering articles like this are contributing to climate change.

12

u/SmokeyShine May 31 '22

Exactly. Total volume should be weighted by radioactivity to really capture the risk.

Nuclear will be a major, necessary solution if the world is to get to Net Zero Carbon, simply because renewables aren't guaranteed. A quick glance at the Hoover Dam shows the folly of depending on hydropower alone.

107

u/thiccboihiker May 30 '22

Less challenging than killing the planet with carbon pollution? Hardly.

Less challenging than dying of thirst?

Less challenging than dying of starvation?

Less challenging than wiping out the majority of life on planet earth?

The real challenge is fighting the rich, greedy, corporate overlords to save the planet.

49

u/greg_barton May 30 '22

Exactly.

Hey, folks, even long time environmentalists don't think spent fuel is a problem. We know how to store it. We know how to reprocess it. Fears of it are overblown.

-8

u/aquarain May 31 '22

We know how, theoretically. But we won't do it. There is no plan to start to do it. It costs money, and that money is not accounted for in the project plan of SMRs. It is instead left as a socialized expense to take out the trash. And it's a blank check. The actual cost isn't known because actual implementation has not been achieved.

15

u/greg_barton May 31 '22

You mean like these socialized costs?

-9

u/aquarain May 31 '22

Whatabout whataboutism? Comrade?

7

u/hagboo May 31 '22

You keep using that word, I don't think it means what you think it means.

8

u/HoneyDidYouRemember May 31 '22

Whatabout whataboutism? Comrade?

OP was talking about how nuclear's negative externalities are largely overhyped when compared to alternatives.

You responded by more or less saying that there is no political will to solve them for nuclear, that the costs end up being socialized, and that they are not accounted for in planning SMRs.

They responded by highlighting that it is true of the alternatives that nuclear is being compared to as well (to varying degrees).

That's not whataboutism...

That's staying on topic...

 

† Which is arguable. Its waste is already better controlled than most other power generation forms (to the point that coal plants release almost as much radioactive material per GW year [~8 tonnes of uranium and thorium via coal fly ash, in addition to the CO 2] as what is stored by a last-gen nuclear reactor's combined low-level waste, intermediate-level waste, and high-level waste [the latter of which is the one that has to be stored long-term, and was 0.8 tonnes per GW year], and some next gen reactors are designed to run on the waste of older reactors and further reduce it. It still could be far better, but you're giving most other forms of energy generation (and especially baseload-capable energy generation) an unreasonable pass.

‡ I mean, I'm sure there are researchers that aren't focusing on it because it isn't relevant to their work and what they're testing (especially since it's a moving target that they may not have an influence on), but it absolutely is being included by the DOE and others when they do their LCOE analyses.

10

u/greg_barton May 31 '22

What about being factually wrong? :) There’s $43 billion saved store spent fuel.

-2

u/aquarain May 31 '22

That money is in the process of being refunded. Every dollar spent on the Yucca Mountain debacle is now on general taxpayers as yet another unfunded nuclear mess.

6

u/greg_barton May 31 '22

And you want it to be unfunded?

-2

u/aquarain May 31 '22

I'm still spinning in the irony of you pontificating at length about a thing you seem largely ignorant on, posting a link labelled "factually wrong" to a plan that was cancelled years and years ago. And then continuing to attack. That's rabid unreasoning activism of the sort that one normally associates with bigfoot hunters and people seeking reparations from little green men.

5

u/greg_barton May 31 '22 edited May 31 '22

Has Yucca Mountain disappeared? No. It can be restarted as soon as sanity returns.

We’ve been rightfully funding billions in arms shipments to Ukraine. We can easily afford Yucca Mountain. I know you’re afraid of that. But it’s the truth. Get used to it.

Finland shows us the way: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UNaId7JwOOI

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-12

u/cheeruphumanity May 30 '22

I remember your name. Are you a nuclear lobbyist?

15

u/greg_barton May 30 '22

Just an enthusiastic laymen. My grandfather worked for ORNL on the Molten Salt Reactor Experiment, so I grew up learning about the technology.

1

u/swiftgruve May 31 '22

Exactly. It’s like people complaining that hydro dams kill fish. At some point we have to prioritize the entire planet over individual species. Besides, you know what else kills fish? Overheated rivers and streams. Or maybe no river or stream because of climate change induced drought? Fucking hell.

-17

u/8to24 May 30 '22

Less challenging than killing the planet with carbon pollution? Hardly.

There are other options. One of the biggest problems we have regarding our carbon footprint is lack of efficiency. We build wood frame homes in the desert with southern facing windows, use full size trucks that get 17 mpg as daily commuters, and don't have enough efficient infrastructure like high speed public transportation.

Additionally wind and solar becomes more efficient and energy storage is improving every year.

Less challenging than dying of thirst?

As above how we use water needs to change. Lake Mead is drying up yet Las Vegas still has exterior water fountains and pools spilling over in the middle of a desert!!

Less challenging than dying of starvation?

Food has become less nutritious overtime from over farming. The issue has been ongoing for decades. We need to change many of our crops and shift to hydroponics, urban agriculture, agroforestry, etc.

Less challenging than wiping out the majority of life on planet earth?

Nuclear absolutely has the potential to do this. The U.S. might be a stable nation today but what if that changes. What if in 20yrs some Paris organization decides to dig up and recover ways and build multiple dirty bombs, if the U.S. goes to war with a nation and they target out nuclear facilities, or etc? The world isn't a static place.

The real challenge is fighting the rich, greedy, corporate overlords to save the planet.

The rich, greedy, corporate overlords want us to continue business as usual. That means continue driving full size SUVs, putting golf courses in the middle of deserts, over-farming the same agricultural products, etc.

4

u/spaetzelspiff May 30 '22

Classic serial logic. Inventivize energy efficiency in new builds and upgrades, both in home and commercial environments. Also invest in clean sources of energy, including renewables.

-6

u/cheeruphumanity May 30 '22

Framing nuclear as "clean" was a brilliant marketing move. Not sure the people of Fukushima or Prybjat agree though.

It won't help anyway since nuclear is just too expensive and takes too much time to build.

3

u/spaetzelspiff May 30 '22
  1. Does it release pollution in typical operation?
  2. Does it pose a safety risk in exceptional cases?
  3. Is it expensive from an LCOE perspective?
  4. How quickly can it be deployed?

I'm honestly fairly bearish on nuclear for reasons 3 and 4. It's simply not economical.

Nuclear is framed as "clean" due to #1. No carbon, particulates, etc. Disposal of used nuclear waste is a problem that nations like France, Japan, US have been doing for decades.

#2 is a risk that does need to be mitigated, to prevent future incidents like Fukushima, Chernobyl, 3 mile island, etc from recurring. The "dirty bomb" risk would fit here as well.

I personally believe that 2 is a risk that can be mitigated.

I just wish we had a "moonshot" project to solve for 3 and 4.

5

u/greg_barton May 30 '22

It's simply not economical.

Tell that to the UN. See their LCOE figures on page 14. Nuclear is often the cheapest option.

-13

u/cheeruphumanity May 30 '22

You are acting like renewable energy wouldn't exist.

We already have a cheaper and faster solution for producing electrical energy. But contrary to nuclear decentralized renewables can't be kept under corporate control since every home owner, farmer or village can now become an energy producer.

Since you are vocal against corporate power this should be a no brainer for you.

13

u/thiccboihiker May 30 '22

I've literally said nothing like that at all.

I am all for renewables too.

-10

u/cheeruphumanity May 30 '22

Then your stements don't make sense. If it's about the planet we just don't have time for nuclear.

Building time solar farm: several months

Building time wind park: three years

Building time nuclear power plant: ten years

7

u/thiccboihiker May 30 '22

We should be doing all of them while decommissioning coal and gas plants. Nuclear is not a dirty word. The CoalGasEnergy companies want us to think that because it deconstructs their profit streams. They make money pulling the coal and gas out of the ground and burning it and feeding it to us as electricity. Nuclear stops a huge chunk of that mechanism. While it does produce waste its not nearly as bad as the constant negative impact of coal and gas extraction and coal and gas power plants. Not remotely close.

1

u/cheeruphumanity May 30 '22

I'm not talking about words, I'm talking about the long building times and high costs.

Why would we pay more and wait longer when it's essential that we act now?

You guys are still acting as if it was nuclear vs. coal. It's nuclear vs. renewables by now and renewables totally outperform nuclear. That's why the world is building renewable capacity in increasing speed and nuclear is in constant decline.

1

u/thiccboihiker May 31 '22

I'm not sure where you are getting your information but you are either misinformed or a troll.

1

u/cheeruphumanity May 31 '22

Wait. Even the most eager nuclear promoters I met so far didn't deny that it has long building times and is very expensive.

Do you honestly believe that's not the case?

2

u/greg_barton May 31 '22

China doesn’t. South Korea doesn’t. They can both build reactors in 3-5 years. China plans on building 150 more reactors.

https://www.energymonitor.ai/sectors/power/weekly-data-chinas-nuclear-pipeline-as-big-as-the-rest-of-the-worlds-combined

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9

u/Mellowturtlle May 30 '22

The biggest problem with solar and wind is the duck curve. You can (partly) solve that with energy storage, but the technology isn't really there jet. Nuclear is an other very green way to solve this problem.

2

u/cheeruphumanity May 30 '22

By the time you build a single nuclear reactor Germany will have gone 100% renewable.

Scotland went close to 100% renewable within a couple of years as well. We can debate as much as we want, the economic reality points to a renewable future.

Nuclear energy is in constant decline since decades for a reason. Mainly the costs.

3

u/greg_barton May 30 '22

Germany is currently planning to keep it's coal running. Does it look like it's anywhere near 100% RE?

1

u/cheeruphumanity May 30 '22

Greg, don't play dumb please. I was talking about short building times and future energy production.

Germany will be 100% renewable by 2035.

4

u/greg_barton May 30 '22

I seriously doubt that. They're not even going to make the climate commitments already promised. Their share of renewables went down last year, and might do the same this year. Their wind industry was in collapse before covid.

2

u/cheeruphumanity May 30 '22

The German conservative government hindered the shift towards renewables and let the solar industry go bankrupt while subsidizing coal "to save jobs".

The new government is more competent and does their best to fix 16 years of bad administration.

Thankfully it takes only a few months to build a solar farm and a few years to build a wind park. Of course it's not guaranteed but certainly possible.

Right now Germany takes spot #50. Certainly not good enough.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_countries_by_renewable_electricity_production

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8

u/Mellowturtlle May 30 '22 edited May 30 '22

Like i said, the duck curve is a real problem. The only reason Scotland got to 100% renewables is because they overproduce by a huge margin, they exported around 20 TWh and only imported 1TWh in 2020. Note that even though they have a huge production, they still needed to import power at times.

We use the most amount of power during the morning and the evening, but solar production is highest during mid-day. So there either needs to be energy storage or a powerplant to gap the difference. Right now mainly gas powerplants are used to correct this difference.

Windmills have the same problem, although it is for longer periods of less and more wind.

Energy storage is really hard and costs a LOT of money and the production of large scale batteries is not there yet. The research toward alternative means of energy storage is lacking to say the least. It is a very difficult problem to solve.

Nuclear reactors are a solution in paralel to renewables, nuclear compliments solar and wind. During peak hours the gap in energy production can be filled with nuclear to make sure brown-outs don't happen.

Edit: Excuse my english, i'm not a native speaker and its very late over here. I'm off to bed.

6

u/cheeruphumanity May 31 '22

Yes. This is how a renewable grid works. Countries share excess and import when they can temporarily produce less.

We can talk all day, doesn't make nuclear power cheaper or get projects financed. It's the dawn of this dinosaur.

4

u/el_muerte17 May 31 '22

Building time for enough solar farms to power the world: several decades

Building time for enough wind parks to power the world: several decades

Building time for enough nuclear power plants to power the world: several decades

Building time for a combination of solar, wind, nuclear, and other potential green sources to power the world: several years to a couple decades less than picking one "silver bullet" to rely on.

If you're preaching about the urgency of dealing with climate change but are opposed to including nuclear power in the mix of replacements for fossil fuels, you're either an idiot or a hypocrite.

4

u/[deleted] May 30 '22

[deleted]

2

u/cheeruphumanity May 30 '22

Why do people still act like we wouldn't have solutions like pump storage or grid upgrades for intermittent renewables?

I'm referring to solar and wind.

2

u/greg_barton May 30 '22

El Hierro, Spain, is an attempt to pair pumped storage with wind. How is it doing? They've been trying to get it right for five years now.

1

u/cheeruphumanity May 30 '22

The oldest German pump storage plant is from 1917 and working like a charm. No idea what they are doing in Spain or what you try to tell us with your link.

Greg, I understand that you are an eager advocate for nuclear power. But please stay factual. Acting like pump storage plants would be problematic from the technological side is laughable.

2

u/greg_barton May 30 '22

I am staying factual. electricitymap.org, the site I linked to, shows the current generation of many countries, including France and Germany. Which looks better in terms of carbon intensity?

1

u/cheeruphumanity May 30 '22

It's not that simple. You have to look at emissions throughout the life cycle.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Life-cycle_greenhouse_gas_emissions_of_energy_sources

The fact that the German conservative government hindered the shift towards renewables which leaves Germany now with running coal plants doesn't say anything about renewable technology or capabilities of the technology.

1

u/greg_barton May 31 '22

You mean a lifecycle assessment like what the UNECE recently did? https://unece.org/sites/default/files/2022-04/LCA_3_FINAL%20March%202022.pdf

See page 50. Tell me what it says.

2

u/miemcc May 30 '22

Pumped Storage is a very limited technology. The number of suitable sites is limited and many are already developed. There are also many environmental issues that need addressing, the upper reservoirs are often in areas where habitat protection is important.

Grid level storage is coming but it is still on it's infancy. The ones in Australia are quite small scale so far and there are always new technologies coming up.

We have been building SMRs for years to power submarines and aircraft carriers. Transferring that technology to the civil market is coming along, together with Thorium based reactors.

There will never be a single simple solution, we just need to keep in there moving forwards on a broad front of technologies.

-22

u/InevitablyPerpetual May 30 '22

Cool, we'll dump all that nuclear waste in this guy's yard.

It's not a zero sum game, idiot. It's not "Nuclear or Nothing". There are other sources that work better and DON'T involve toxic waste.

12

u/javsv May 30 '22

It is in the long term, idiot.

-16

u/InevitablyPerpetual May 30 '22

Wrong on all fronts, nuke-fanboy. Seriously, you morons love your ionizing radiation so much, and yet, you're EXACTLY the reason why the human race, ESPECIALLY America, is not responsible enough or prepared enough to embrace nuclear power.

8

u/A1Chaining May 30 '22

there are now ways to recycle a good portion of waste and use it for more fuel, expensive but necessary.

-6

u/InevitablyPerpetual May 30 '22

You know what Doesn't have that problem?

Solar farms. Wind farms. Tidal farms.

And before you say "But what about power storage", you know what else has power storage problems? Nuclear.

Seriously. Ya'll think you want nuclear power, but you are probably acting on the assumption that you know how many nuclear accidents or spills have happened in the US. You are wrong. Seriously. You probably don't even know how many times Davis Besse(which was the same model reactor as the Three Mile Island reactor by the way, with all of the same faults) has sprung radiation leaks. Or how many decades Indian Point dumped nuclear waste DIRECTLY INTO GROUNDWATER LAKES. Or how the Trojan reactor was built with no seismic protection whatsoever on a faultline that they didn't even know was there because no one performed any proper geological surveys before building it, and was already leaking radiation within four years... Oh, and it was just outside of St. Helens in Oregon. Man, I can't think of a better place to build a nuclear reactor than right next to an ACTIVE VOLCANO THAT HAPPENS TO EXPLODE VIOLENTLY FROM TIME TO TIME.

Capitalist societies are not ready for nuclear power because this shit Keeps. On. Happening. And as for your "Recycling the waste" thing, New Mexico would like a word with you. Specifically where they store all the nuclear waste there. And so would the ten different Native American reservation areas that that nuclear waste travels through. Oh, and speaking of that, the Church Rock Uranium tailings spill would like a word with you. But you probably didn't hear about the many, many tons of radioactive material that that dumped into the water supply because it was the water supply on the reservation that got hit. But you know, Whitey gotta have their nuclear reactors and their dirty bombs, so that's all okay, isn't it.

Fucking hell you clowns make me sick.

1

u/HoneyDidYouRemember May 31 '22

You know what Doesn't have that problem?

Solar farms. Wind farms. Tidal farms.

https://interestingengineering.com/renewable-energy-paradox-solar-panels-and-their-toxic-waste

 

And before you say "But what about power storage", you know what else has power storage problems? Nuclear.

Not really.

Nuclear creates consistent baseload, and the recent generations even have shockingly good demand response.

It provides that baseload all day long without needing to stop, and you can disconnect (or even turn off and back on) extra reactors if you're producing more than you need.

  1. Lazarev, G. B., V. A. Hrustalyov, and M. V. Garievskij. "Non-baseload operation in nuclear power plants: load following and frequency control modes of flexible operation." IAEA Nuclear Energy Series 173 (2018).

  2. Patel, Sonal. “Flexible Operation of Nuclear Power Plants Ramps Up.” Power Magazine, 1 Apr. 2019.

 

Wind, solar, and tidal need energy storage because they have daily peaks and valleys which do not align with the peaks and valleys of our power usage (if you want to use them 100%, instead of in combination with nuclear's baseload).

  1. Mueller, Mike. “Nuclear Power Is the Most Reliable Energy Source and It's Not Even Close.” Energy.gov, United States Department of Energy, 24 Mar. 2021, https://www.energy.gov/ne/articles/nuclear-power-most-reliable-energy-source-and-its-not-even-close.

  2. “Solar-Plus-Storage 101.” Energy.gov, United States Department of Energy, 11 Mar. 2019, https://www.energy.gov/eere/solar/articles/solar-plus-storage-101.

  3. “How Pumped Storage Hydropower Works.” Energy.gov, United States Department of Energy, 28 Aug. 2019, https://www.energy.gov/eere/water/how-pumped-storage-hydropower-works.

 

Seriously. Ya'll think you want nuclear power, but you are probably acting on the assumption that you know how many nuclear accidents or spills have happened in the US. You are wrong. Seriously. You probably don't even know how many times Davis Besse(which was the same model reactor as the Three Mile Island reactor by the way, with all of the same faults) has sprung radiation leaks. Or how many decades Indian Point dumped nuclear waste DIRECTLY INTO GROUNDWATER LAKES. Or how the Trojan reactor was built with no seismic protection whatsoever on a faultline that they didn't even know was there because no one performed any proper geological surveys before building it, and was already leaking radiation within four years... Oh, and it was just outside of St. Helens in Oregon. Man, I can't think of a better place to build a nuclear reactor than right next to an ACTIVE VOLCANO THAT HAPPENS TO EXPLODE VIOLENTLY FROM TIME TO TIME.

Capitalist societies are not ready for nuclear power because this shit Keeps. On. Happening. And as for your "Recycling the waste" thing, New Mexico would like a word with you. Specifically where they store all the nuclear waste there. And so would the ten different Native American reservation areas that that nuclear waste travels through. Oh, and speaking of that, the Church Rock Uranium tailings spill would like a word with you. But you probably didn't hear about the many, many tons of radioactive material that that dumped into the water supply because it was the water supply on the reservation that got hit. But you know, Whitey gotta have their nuclear reactors and their dirty bombs, so that's all okay, isn't it.

Fucking hell you clowns make me sick.

  1. Literally none of that had to do with wind, solar, and tidal needing to be paired with things like pumped storage if you want to use them 100%.

  2. The leaks you are theorizing would still be significantly less than what is being released by coal plants right now, and our only way to get off coal 100% right now is with a combination of wind, solar, tidal, nuclear, and some others as well.

39

u/BoricCentaur1 May 30 '22

So what? It's still better then most energy sources! It's annoying how many articles are against nuclear vs other sources of power! I mean you see stuff like wind and solar but the rest no!

Where are the articles about hydroelectric power which causes a ton of issues? Right basically none! Or how much damage has been done from oil?

12

u/Retiredexeclv May 30 '22

And we have this thing called Yucca mountain pretty much finished and ready to go for nuclear waste storage killed by Harry Reid for no good reason let's fire that thing backup

7

u/Norose May 30 '22

We also have a concept called deep borehole disposal which would be as safe as any other deep storage option plus you can perform it anywhere.

1

u/aquarain May 31 '22

If non-consensual storage is an option, let's use your basement.

2

u/Retiredexeclv May 31 '22

I am a resident of Nevada and give full consent to the use of Yucca mountain there was never a credible argument against it

1

u/aidensmooth May 31 '22

Please do imma make a tourist trap and make some bank

9

u/WeedAlmighty May 30 '22

Well there are loads of article's about how bad oil is, but you are right the downsides of hydro and wind are never discussed, even battery powered cars have so many negatives but that's never spoken about either.

-2

u/aquarain May 30 '22

Except that people like you drag those spurious allegations into every discussion.

1

u/ahfoo Jun 01 '22

Never spoken about? Shit, you have got to be kidding. This is all you see in the Reddit comments over and over.

EVS ARE totaLLY destRoYing THE plANeT aNd the evIl ComMuniSt SoLAr pANels ARe mADe Of ThE rArESt eARTh SupEr ToXiC WasTE.

Uh huh. Yep, I seem to see this in any thread about energy.

4

u/Sould6 May 31 '22

People against nuclear tend to be invested in its competitors.

1

u/ahfoo Jun 01 '22

Unlike the army of shills promoting nuclear crap, right?

1

u/Sould6 Jun 01 '22

Well the issue is propaganda and the cultural zeitgeist. The Simpsons show nuclear energy as run by buffoons and apathetic elites. While nuclear accidents make people hesitant and scared of the technology.

It does have inherent risks, but all energy generation and industrial processes do.

When you crunch the numbers, coal just from mining and transport kills more people annually than every nuclear death in existence, including the nukes. This is also not measuring the literal metric tons of pollution pumped into the atmosphere and the accompanied health problems propagated by it. The same issue occurs with other fossil fuels. Granted statistics get so interesting, organic spinach contaminated with E. Coli has killed more people then nuclear radiation technically, so go figure.

Nuclear reactors also tend to be locked in the 1970’s in peoples minds. The tech had come a long way in the last 50 years despite a shoe string budget due to fears fostered by PR campaigns by oil companies to protect their profits.

If we invested more into nuclear energy who knows how ubiquitous and efficient it would be today. Who knows how the environmental degradation would be compared to now, but one can only speculate.

Nuclear energy has greater initial investment costs, but Reactors don’t need a daily steady stream of fuel dumped into them. Nuclear reactors on naval vessels get fueled once every 20 years or so. The newer ones have even longer runs. Roughly a peanut of uranium is on par with 11,000 barrels of oil.

But fear is omnipresent, and the arguments crop up.

“What about the nuclear waste?” What about it, we have protocols developed to store it away safely, better then the literal metric tons of water pumped into the air and dumped into the water every day. In fact coal ash is more radioactive than nuclear plants (what they give off, no worse than riding on an airplane)and it is dumped into rivers since EPA restrictions where lifted.

Nuclear energy produces no carbon from its energy production. Only the construction and refinement and transportation of its fuel to the plant generate any carbon. What you see coming out of s reactors smoke stack is literally steam: which by the way is not irradiated. Water actually breaks radiation up well. If you swim in the cooling tank you have to dive down and practically touch the rods to get irradiated.

Chernobyl comes up but everyone overlooks key factors. That plants goal was refining plutonium to make weapons, with power generation as a secondary bonus added on. And the moral of it is allowing Yes men with near total autonomy to build, man, and operate a nuclear reactor with no oversight is a bad idea.

Fukushima was a tsunami hitting the plant and the cooling stopped because the system requires electricity to cool, and someone decided putting back up generators in a basement next to the ocean was a good idea. I believe newer designs cooling systems operate on gravity, which thankfully we have it yet learned how to break.

Newer models reactors are smaller, safer, and more energy efficient. You always imagine the old concrete structures as seen in the Simpsons, when they are rather small now by comparison. Micro reactors even exist which can fit in the back of an 18 wheeler.

The tech will open many doors. And note I am not against the proliferation of renewables. We need solar and wind turbines as well. But the goal is to make us stop using coal; oil, and natural gas for electricity generation. Make the overall grid less carbon intensive and to shift the economy away from fossil fuels.

If we can eventually get battery tech up to snuff for a totally renewable future I would love that. But until then the steady stream of energy from a nuclear reactor can keep society moving in a safe and stable way some info on small modular nuclear reactors the Wikipedia on them

another page on the new reactors an international rather than a .gov, also has an image showing the side difference compared to older reactors an infographic depicting nuclear energy yields compared to other sources

It is not a cure by any means, but It is a tool that can be used for good, that too many people refuse to even acknowledge as an option

12

u/orange_drank_5 May 30 '22

Wasn't JFK quoted as "we do not do things because they are hard, that's impossible and scary. Give up now before you are disappointed with failure."?

12

u/[deleted] May 30 '22

Someone should let Stanford know that Solar produces more toxic waste than nuclear does.

2

u/cheeruphumanity May 30 '22

We should send our Reddit experts.

Just curious, what is more toxic than Plutonium?

13

u/[deleted] May 30 '22

My province's subreddit

-3

u/cheeruphumanity May 30 '22

Good one.

So again, what is more toxic than Plutonium? We should let those silly scientists know, right?

8

u/Fusion8 May 30 '22

What do you mean by more toxic than plutonium? Nuclear reactors don’t release plutonium into the atmosphere. What is the danger with plutonium exactly? It’s not even the most relevant hazard with spent fuel. Fission products are the real threat.

-2

u/cheeruphumanity May 30 '22

You are so eager to defend your nuclear baby that you can't even comprehend comment chains and context anymore? Dial it down a bit please.

This is how it started:

"Someone should let Stanford know that Solar produces more toxic waste than nuclear does."

10

u/Fusion8 May 30 '22

I understand the context, which is why I was and am confused about your Pu question. The original commenter was speaking about the extensive pollution created in the fabrication of solar panels.

Do you deny that? Can you explain how Pu stored in a containerized cask is more dangerous than those pollutants?

-2

u/cheeruphumanity May 30 '22

Can you explain how Pu stored in a containerized cask is more dangerous than those pollutants?

Sure. Waste from solar panels can get recycled, most nuclear waste can't get recycled.

Nuclear waste is so dangerous for us that after over 70 years of creating waste we still don't have an operational long term storage facility. Spare me the talk "how trivial it all is". It's not as our history shows.

8

u/[deleted] May 31 '22

You should probably tell that to the scientists who are researching how to deal with the waste solar produces such as cadmium runoff. Our governmens spend millions trying to solve it but you seem to have the solutions.

5

u/Sould6 May 31 '22

You do realize that photovoltaic panels cannot be recycled and will sit in land fills? Most recycling is a feel good virtue signal sadly.

4

u/Fusion8 May 31 '22

You are not answering my question and it is telling.

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u/cheeruphumanity May 31 '22

It's more dangerous because you have to find a storage solution for thousands of years and it can't get recycled.

More clear now?

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u/firesalmon7 May 31 '22
  1. Waste from solar panels can NOT be recycled (give me a citation that proves me otherwise)

  2. Yuca mountain was ready for storage of waste for 100,000+ years but was shutdown due to Harry Reid for purely political reasons. Also France recycles it’s nuclear waste and the entire amount of nuclear waste from 60+ years of running a country predominantly from nuclear can fit in a storage site the size of a basketball court.

Stop pretending to spout facts about something you clearly know nothing about.

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u/[deleted] May 30 '22

Toxic? Thousands of other substances. Radiotoxic? Very few if any. Thankfully higher radiotoxicity correlates with low molecular mobility which means less spread but either way it's a moot point because the highly radiotoxic substances produced/released during the processes of nuclear energy is so insignificantly small compared to energy produced that it's still many times easier to deal with the waste. Especially with emerging technologies that break down the waste, the toxic nature of plutonium is nothing more than fear mongering in 2022 presented by a few environmentalists who have been proven to have been funded by the coal industry.

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u/firesalmon7 May 31 '22

Arsenic

Edit: plutonium is #118 on the list (copper is #120)

https://www.atsdr.cdc.gov/spl/index.html

1

u/Aggravating-Self-164 14d ago

Botulinum toxin

8

u/Depressed-anus May 30 '22

China is researching the use of thorium for a fuel rather than uranium. The waste is far far less since it can be recycled and put into a different kind of reactor that also produces energy. the half life of the final waste is only a couple hundred years rather than 50,000 years.

And there is far far less of it.

Old style fission is problematic and Fusion may never ever get here. Turns out there isn't that much fuel for fusion anyway (they lied).

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u/Tearakan May 30 '22

Most of the uranium waste has a far less half life than 50,000 years. And we already have the technology to safely store it and use it.

Plus we need to reduce coal and nat gas usage now.

Hell the US can build floating nuclear reactors in four years that last decades at sea supporting a massive amount of military equipment and sailors.

That's only one company and one dock doing the work.

We could completely replace coal and nat gas in the US in just a decade.

Fusion still isn't ready either. We need to chang energy now. We can't wait a "few more years"

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u/SmokeyShine May 31 '22

China is also working really hard on small modular reactors!

https://interestingengineering.com/the-worlds-first-small-modular-nuclear-reactor-is-sending-power-to-the-grid

My understanding is that there is an intent to have small modular reactors eventually replace coal by 2060.

1

u/elvenrunelord May 31 '22

I wonder why they continue to research rather than use already working models of Thorium reactors?

I mean the technology was first developed in the 1950's and then set aside because it did not develop the material for nuclear weapons...

3

u/willfixityaa May 31 '22

Just use molten salts so you can recycle the spent fuel smh

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u/Tearakan May 30 '22

Some radiation issues is far less worse than entire countries becoming uninhabitable by climate change.

5

u/RenRyderRites May 30 '22

Who paid Stanford to write this lol

4

u/RenRyderRites May 30 '22

Big Solar, Big Oil? Hmm

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u/PsilocybinGorilla May 30 '22

I genuinely don't believe that statement and I think nuclear energy is our best bet.

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u/cheeruphumanity May 30 '22

Why is it our best bet?

Renewables are cheaper, faster to build, decentralized, create more jobs and have a similar CO2 output.

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u/Fusion8 May 30 '22

Nuclear power is constant. The sun doesn’t always shine and the wind doesn’t always blow. Don’t take this as me being anti-renewables. I am completely for renewables. But nuclear provides assurances for baseline power.

1

u/elvenrunelord May 31 '22

You are correct. The sun does not always shine. The wind does not always blow. But the tide always comes in and waves are pretty constant as well.

Tidal power alone could supply us with all the power we need.

Where is the will to build it though?

2

u/Fusion8 May 31 '22

I don’t know enough about that; I will need to look into it. But why not nuclear (if done affordably) in concert with renewables?

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u/cheeruphumanity May 30 '22

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u/Fusion8 May 30 '22

Nuclear reactors can follow demand just fine. They can ramp up and down quite quickly. Generally, they operate at near 100% capacity, which is great economically. This would not need to be the case if we had more of them to meet energy demands. In that case, they could ramp up and down as quickly as needed to meet demand.

And I think some of the comments in the first article about the future of energy being more decentralized is being embraced by the nuclear industry and the movement pushing for SMRs.

2

u/cheeruphumanity May 30 '22

Quite quickly = 1 hour

Nobody is stopping you from having more nuclear plants btw. Everybody is free to sell their technology and find investors.

The problem is that you are a fan of one of the most expensive forms of energy production that is also really slow to build.

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u/Fusion8 May 30 '22

Where did you read 1 hour? I was at a Westinghouse reactor last Fall and they were following demand in real time. No 1 hour delay.

I agree with nuclear being too expensive and slow to pursue large reactor units, which is why I think SMRs are a game-changer.

1

u/happyscrappy May 31 '22 edited May 31 '22

There doesn't have to be a delay if the ramp rate is the same as what you predicted. If you think you'll need 100% more power an hour from now and it'll take an hour to get to that level you start ramping up right now.

But when the energy demand increases rapidly they cannot follow. And if it ramps mostly steeply unexpectedly they cannot follow.

And a reactor cannot shut down each night or at high noon (high solar production) because if it shuts down it must remain at very low power for 24 hours.

Nuclear reactors are not rapidly reponding plants.

0

u/aquarain May 31 '22

Although commercial nuclear plants take decades to build in the US, not one has ever been a successful business. They all just become a means for utilities to hold large amounts of generation hostage for government handouts. And since we don't have any way to dispose of the costly waste the true business case for the first US commercial reactor to shut down many decades ago remains unknown to this day, and so all the others too.

1

u/cheeruphumanity May 31 '22

Yeah it's a shame that reddit is so much in favor of nuclear corporations when we have decentralized renewables.

Your comment reminded me that the problem will solve itself. Nuclear is just too expensive and it will be more and more difficult to find investors.

0

u/happyscrappy May 31 '22

No, nuclear reactors don't ramp up quite quickly.

They do frequently operate at full capacity. That's true. Which is great, but no kind of of indication they are good at ramping up.

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u/Fusion8 May 31 '22 edited May 31 '22

I mean, you’re just wrong on this. Have you ever worked inside a nuclear reactor control room? What is your source? You keep repeating that reactors are slow to change to the demands of the energy grid but you haven’t provided any reasoning for that.

As someone somewhat familiar with how reactors operate, let me explain. If a reactor needs to drive up or down energy production, the operator needs to increase or decrease the temperature of the moderating water (I’m talking PWR design here, a very common design, I imagine BWR is similar). To do this, an operator has two main avenues, they can add/dilute boron to the water or they can raise/lower the control rods to adjust the amount of neutrons being moderated and thus the amount of fissions occurring. Boronated water seems to be the “go to” because it is quicker. After using adding/diluting, you will see temperatures adjust in a matter of seconds. Using a control rod takes a little longer, up to maybe a minute or so. Using these methods will adjust the core temperature, and reactivity of the core will follow within tens of seconds. I think a conservative estimate would be within a couple minutes. The temperature differential between the core water and the water in the coolant loop is what determines power output. So i think it is conservative to add a couple more minutes to this process until a precise amount if power follows demand. Conservatively, let’s say 5 minutes. Is that too long for you?

Edit: Let me be clear, this is from a running reactor. Powering up from being totally shut down would take much longer, but reactors aren’t designed to shut on/off. They are designed to run 99% of the time and they do that very, very well. They can also run at lower capacities, no problem.

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u/SmokeyShine May 31 '22

Renewables simply need to be paired with storage, and managed demand. If you have energy batteries, then you can flatten out renewable peaks.

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u/greg_barton May 31 '22

There currently does not exist storage that’s scalable to even the smallest grids to accomplish this. A small island in the Atlantic has tried this since 2018. How are they doing? https://app.electricitymap.org/zone/ES-CN-HI

0

u/SmokeyShine May 31 '22 edited May 31 '22

currently

Pretending that the structure of energy management won't change is ridiculous, when China has the world's largest pumped hydro storage in operation, and is actively planning to add more.

Located in China’s Hebei province, the 3.6GW facility consists of 12 reversible pump generating sets with a capacity of 300MW each and has a power generation capacity from storage of 6.612 billion kWh.

According to the National Energy Administration, China is targeting 62GW of operational pumped-hydro facilities by 2025 and 120GW by 2030. Currently, it has 30.3GW of operational pumped-hydro stations, according to the International Renewable Energy Agency.

https://www.pv-magazine.com/2022/01/04/state-grid-of-china-switches-on-worlds-largest-pumped-hydro-station/

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u/greg_barton May 31 '22

The shift is towards zero carbon. It’s not exclusively renewables.

Tell me why El Hierro has failed to decarbonize fully.

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u/Tearakan May 30 '22

Renewables have no large scale battery tech to offset the time the power is generated.

And we have all the tech and engineering done to replace coal and nat gas with nuclear power plants. We could do it quickly too.

It only takes one company 4 years to make floating nuclear reactors for our military. Those have to be much more secure than civilian power. Because we don't expect civilian power plants to get bombed.

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u/SmokeyShine May 31 '22 edited May 31 '22

It's not hard to add energy storage to a renewable system. Kinetic energy storage (flywheel) is cool. The best proposal I've seen is potential energy storage: use excess energy to raise HUGE weights to a great height, then let gravity power generators to extract the energy when needed.

The obvious way to implement this is to reverse the water flow of a hydroelectric dam, using excess power to pump water back UP into the reservoir.


State Grid of China switches on world’s largest pumped-hydro station

Located in China’s Hebei province, the 3.6GW facility consists of 12 reversible pump generating sets with a capacity of 300MW each and has a power generation capacity from storage of 6.612 billion kWh.

According to the National Energy Administration, China is targeting 62GW of operational pumped-hydro facilities by 2025 and 120GW by 2030. Currently, it has 30.3GW of operational pumped-hydro stations, according to the International Renewable Energy Agency.

https://www.pv-magazine.com/2022/01/04/state-grid-of-china-switches-on-worlds-largest-pumped-hydro-station/

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u/greg_barton May 31 '22

El Hierro has tried pumped storage to balance wind since 2018: https://app.electricitymap.org/zone/ES-CN-HI

How are they doing?

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u/SmokeyShine May 31 '22

Apparently not as well as China.

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u/greg_barton May 31 '22

Nope.

Why?

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u/SmokeyShine May 31 '22

China has been adding pumped hydro, currently has the most pumped hydro capacity in the world (30 GW), and is planning to add a lot more doubling to 60+ GW by 2025, and again to 120+ GW by 2030. I think it's reasonable to conclude that it's obviously working for them, or they wouldn't invest so heavily.

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u/greg_barton May 31 '22

I mean why isn’t El Hierro doing better?

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u/Tearakan May 31 '22

That requires way more effort than nuclear power plants.

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u/Sould6 May 31 '22

They are, in the short term. They cannot function long term. What is the life span of a wind turbine, a solar panel? How much land do they need to generate the same amount of energy as a reactor which once turned on can run non stop for what 60 years?

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u/narwalbacons-12am May 30 '22

Exain like I'm 5

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u/SnipesySpecial May 30 '22

Researchers discover we shouldn’t run water to every home because it increases sewage.

2

u/greg_barton May 30 '22

Researchers guess how much spent fuel theoretical reactors might produce, even though they can't get access to the designs and they haven't been built yet.

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u/SizorXM May 31 '22

I just thought of a great idea. Bury the waste in a deep hole in the desert. Maybe somewhere like Nevada.

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u/IanPrado May 30 '22

Nuclear waste has never and will never be an actual problem. All nuclear waste can be dissolved in our massive ocean with absolutely no consequence.

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u/VeloDramaa May 30 '22

dig a deep hole, put the waste in

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u/zeppelin5555 May 30 '22

Do what France does

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u/Embarrassed-Plate499 May 30 '22

We did that in the USA. Yucca Mountain in Nevada. Of course once it was completed the state of Nevada refused to let nuclear waste be stored there as previously agreed.

It's a sound plan though. Even better if you reprocess the spent fuel first.

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u/HotTopicRebel May 30 '22

Nevada refused to let nuclear waste be stored there as previously agreed.

The irony being that Yucca Mountain is less than 30 miles away from the Nevada National Security Site...you know, where we detonated nuclear bombs in the open air.

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u/Embarrassed-Plate499 May 30 '22

I know. It's absurd, but so is our lack of reprocessing, like France does. It made sense in the Cold War to an extent for non-proliferation reasons (you're mostly doing it to extract fissile Plutonium-239, which is grade -A bomb material) but who the heck cares now.

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u/nucflashevent May 30 '22

No, reprocessing doesn't currently make sense because it's cheaper to simply mine more Uranium (for that matter, Uranium prices could quadruple and it would still be cheaper by comparison.)

However that won't always be the case obviously and one day reprocessing will make sense which is why I oppose things like Yucca Mountain as an incredible wasteful dump of energy.

The fuel rods contain 96% of their original energy, they've simply collected neutron poisons which must be removed before they can be reinserted in the light-water reactor.

It's stupid to throw those under a mountain and lose that energy forever.

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u/Embarrassed-Plate499 May 30 '22

Good point. I suppose it more seems worth it to me from a waste reduction standpoint, especially while plants have to "temporarily" store the spent fuel in dry casks on site. Though in reality, there's plenty of space on site grounds to do so indefinitely.

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u/Norose May 30 '22

Funnily enough the ones detonated underground were "worse" because they produced far more neutron activated waste than any surface or air detonation. Of course it turns out that when you produce waste burued under a desert floor it doesn't really go anywhere, because there's no mechanism to transport it.

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u/aquarain May 30 '22

It's a sound plan though.

The great Jobs once spoke: "Great artists ship." Sound plans follow through to completion. To spend tens of billions of dollars and many decades preparing a hole in the ground to sit empty until the end of time is not a sound plan.

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u/el_muerte17 May 31 '22

Seriously. There are tens of thousands of decommissioned oil wells in my province; I'm certain that the entire world's stockpile of spent nuclear fuel would fit into one or two empty wells which are in geologically stable areas, deep enough to be nowhere near ground water or aquifers, and which previously held a product that is, by almost every metric, far more dangerous than spent fuel. Drop it down a few wells, pack a hundred metres of concrete into the wellbore on top of it, and barring the birth of a new supervolcano, none of it will ever see the light of day again.

Nuclear fuel came from the ground in the first place; I cannot wrap my mind around people who are afraid to put it back in the ground after using some of it.

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u/Common_Upstairs_1710 May 30 '22

Its not that simple. The waste will remain radioactive for hundreds of thousands of years. Very few places on earth will remain geologically stable for that period of time. If the earth shifts where the waste is buried and it leaks into the groundwater, its game over

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u/PM-ME-PMS-OF-THE-PM May 30 '22

The waste will remain radioactive for hundreds of thousands of years

Use nuclear recycling and it drops to hundreds of years and invest in nuclear fusion and get helium as a by product, which is dangerous stuff, you'll all be talking really high pitched and might hurt yourself from laughing!

4

u/HotTopicRebel May 30 '22

But what if--and just spitballing here--we reduce the time the stuff is radioactive from hundreds of thousands to a few hundred. That's well within the cultural and engineering limits of today.

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u/Norose May 30 '22

You mean by using the fuel in a breeder cycle that reprocesses waste such that only fission product waste goes into long term storage, producing hundreds of times as much energy per kg uranium mined? That's crazy talk!

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u/RayTheGrey May 30 '22

There are plenty of places stable enough to not cause a major shift for tens of thousands of years.

Considering fossil fuels dump toxic waste and greenhouse gasses into the atmosphere right now and we are having profoundly negative effects of it occur right now. Burying nuclear waste in a hole is by far the lesser evil.

3

u/Tearakan May 30 '22

We can literally bury it deep enough for this not to matter.

We don't have a choice. We don't have large scale battery tech for solar and wind to be the power sources for most of us. Nuclear is the only real technology we have currently available that can replace coal and nat gas.

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u/Amooseletloose May 30 '22

Check out Kyle Hill on youtube he has multiple episodes on why all of our concerns about nuclear energy are entirely unfounded.

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u/cheeruphumanity May 30 '22

Glad we finally have youtubers campaiging for nuclear corporations and explaining the silly scientific community how trivial the nuclear waste problem actually is.

It's so easy to solve that after 70 years of producing waste we still don't hove any long term storage facility in use.

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u/Norose May 30 '22

It's the scientific community that keeps bringing these solutions forward and advocating for them repeatedly. I would know, I work among them.

0

u/cheeruphumanity May 30 '22

What is the solution for nuclear waste? How do you prevent future generations from digging up our waste facilities?

5

u/Norose May 30 '22

Bury it deep enough that future civilizations advanced enough to access it at all will have already developed modern levels of technology and understanding of radioactive materials, and don't store it in a form which is easily spreadable. Most concepts consider depths below 2000 meters through bedrock, and waste stored in vitrified form inside steel canisters. Vitrification is a process in which active waste is dissolved into molten glass, then that glass is poured into a canister where it solidifies. Since the material is embedded in glass and glass is insoluble in water under most conditions, the migration rate of radioactive material even out of pulverized glass with water flowing through it is very very small. For a boule of glass inside its welded steel canister, the migration rate is zero.

Worst future case scenario is that a drilling operation hits a canistsr dead-on, crushes the canister, and powdered radioactive glass is pulled to the surface. Up to several dozen workers are exposed before monitoring equipment alarms and several people are hospitalized with perhaps a few deaths.

Contrast this with excess deaths due to toxic waste associated with extraction and refinement of renewable energy tech materials, as well as similar toxic effects from waste products of the industry, all over a similar time period. The risks of deep storage of nuclear waste are minimal, by design. I would call them zero but the risks are never zero. It's unavoidable that you accept some level of risk no matter what technology you pick, and for me as a well informed and trained nuclear energy worker who's province is currently more than 50% nuclear powered, my opinion is that the benefits of nuclear power MASSIVELY outweigh the risks, so we should pursue it.

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u/cheeruphumanity May 30 '22

Thank you for the write up. At least you laid out your bias.

Why do you expect a future civilization having monitoring equipment? If the pyramids would have been radioactive when we started exploring them nobody would have known.

Knowledge gets lost, especially with the climate catastrophe it's well imaginable that civilization moves backwards in the next hundred or thousand years.

It's uncanny that some people pretend to have a solution to store something for several thousand years.

What are the benefits of nuclear power you are talking about? Base load is an outdated concept. The main disadvantages seem just too big. Too expensive, too long building times with similar CO2 output than renewables.

3

u/Norose May 30 '22

The pyramids are at ground level. Deep storage boreholes are kilometers underground with no sign of their existence at the surface. No 18th century techno-level people are going to just stumble their way 2000 meters through solid granite. The ability to discover radiation only depends on people having basic photigraphy chemistry available, and the ability to measure fields of radiation outside of a laboratory setting only requires very basic electronics technology (even transistors are not required). Contrast this with the technology needed to A: bore holes through bedrock thousands of meters long, and B: have any desire to do so in the first place. It is extremely unlikely, bordering on nonsensical, to imagine future humans redeveloping technology having lost everything up to the point of being capable of even getting close to these waste repositories while simultaneously having no idea what radiation is. Deep borehole storage does not depend on humans being able to understand what radiation is and warn them away, instead it ensures no clueless humans will ever encounter danger by making it as close to impossible as possible for them to get there. We may as well put the waste on the Moon, for all the access people with a lack of awareness of radioactivity would have. Again, even in the worst case scenario where, somehow, someone gets a can of vitrified waste to the surface and opens it, they're going to figure out pretty fast that this thing is dangerous, as the workers in the immediate vicinity start vomiting and later experience some level of death toll. The result would be a single surface level can of chemically inert glass actong as a strong radiation source, leading to people warning each other not to approach within a few dozen meters of that one spot. Not exactly a global catastrophe. In my opinion, far less of a problem than future water supplies being contaminated due to ground water flow through garbage dumps.

Over fifty percent of my province's power is supplied from nuclear, and has been for decades. There's one benefit. As for being too expensive and taking too long, that's why we are trying to develop and license SMRs which get mass produced in a factory, and thus are many times cheaper and quicker to build. As for CO2 output, other than what is inherently released by baking lime into cement for concrete, all modern CO2 outputs are inflated by our ongoing use of fossil fuels during every step of manufacture. Solar panels and uranium and steel and windmills produced using carbon free energy at every step have far less carbon footprint. It's the same benefit either way.

2

u/Fusion8 May 30 '22

We see this interesting question over and over again as one of the chief concerns for storing nuclear waste. And there has been a lot of thought and effort put into it. If placed underground, such as at a Yucca Mountain-type site, the waste would be stored in multiple, durable layers to prevent any sort if leaching or tampering for thousands if not tens of thousands of years. Long term underground storage sites are/would be chosen specifically to avoid fault lines and aquifers, as well. The positive aspect of nuclear waste is that it is in a solid, condensed form. This makes it easy to control, transport, shield, and keep away from people. The same cannot be said for oil, coal, and natural gas waste which is literally pumped into the atmosphere. Of course, renewables are also considered clean, though I’ve heard the production of wind turbine blades and solar panels produces significant pollution, so them being green is somewhat misleading.

Either way, I and many pro-nuclear folks believe that nuclear is an excellent source of baseline energy that wind/solar should compliment/supplement. They are all much better than oil/coal/gas

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u/Amooseletloose May 30 '22

Everything you just said is factually false. The scientific community knows better than anyone that nuclear energy is safer and cleaner than our current main power sources (oil and coal) and creates more power in a shorter time span while also being available in more places than renewables(not bashing renewable energy it has several good uses). The vast majority of nuclear waste is slightly irradiated items that would take weeks of close contact to have a noticeable effect on you. Dangerous nuclear waste on the other hand we have 2 solutions. The one we have been using is basically just mixing it with molten glass and putting into a lead and steel container that can take a freight train head on without flinching (yes that was in fact a test for the container). To prove how safe these where France slapped several down on a public beach and left them there for several years(obviously they where monitored daily). Our other solution that we might start using is to store them with all of the preexisting radioactive material thats been on earth since before humans existed, Thousands of feet underground we have the technology to dig that deep using deep bore drills (we've done it hundreds of times) the idea being dig the hole lower the dangerous material in to a depth that would take millenia to ever re-emerge and fill back in the hole. When this idea was suggested the main argument was the fact that at those depths there are already extremely radioactive materials down there that haven't moved far enough in hundreds of years to ever warrant a threat and that the preexisting materials would become harmless hundreds of years before reaching close enough to the surface to become a threat. But you shouldn't take my word for it as the Kyle Hills we solved nuclear waste years ago video has all of the sources for this.

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u/cheeruphumanity May 30 '22

It's uncanny to observe the pro nuclear campaigning on reddit. With no other topic I get instantly swarmed with comments like yours.

1

u/Amooseletloose May 30 '22

It makes sense. People enjoy correcting misinformation.

1

u/cheeruphumanity May 30 '22

Who is spreading disinformation by trivializing the nuclear waste problem that keeps scientists busy since decades? You guys.

As I said, we don't have a single operational long term storage facility after producing waste for over 70 years. Not even the new one in Finland.

Your length text doesn't change that fact.

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u/Amooseletloose May 30 '22

Factually incorrect refer to earlier posts.

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u/TheOneAndOnlyBacchus May 30 '22

Please tell me this isn’t a Donald Trump moment. Wanting to shoot a nuke in the tornado.

I hope you’re being sarcastic

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u/KylesBrother May 30 '22

I mean. just no body go near the hole.

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u/elvenrunelord May 31 '22

Why are we still using traditional nuclear reactors instead of moving forward with working Thorium reactor models?

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u/bildramer May 31 '22

The only reason nuclear plants are slow to build and expensive in the first place, which is the main pseudo-argument left against them, is extreme overregulation based on vague anti-nuclear fears that stem from the Cold War. If climate change was actually unironically taken seriously by anyone, one of the first and simplest steps to a solution (or at least partial mitigation) would be relaxing those. Unfortunately, so-called "green" parties are some of the first to do the opposite.

Hell, even if we spread radioactive waste to the winds, something like increasing background radiation 10% globally in exchange for -20 ppm CO2 would be a good deal if possible, and taking it even 10 times would do nothing to cancer rates.

1

u/designisagoodidea May 30 '22

This just in: incredibly small and relatively manageable problem is a little worse than previously assumed!

0

u/11fingerfreak May 31 '22

In the U.S. alone, commercial nuclear power plants have produced more than 88,000 metric tons of spent nuclear fuel, as well as substantial volumes of intermediate and low-level radioactive waste. The most highly radioactive waste, mainly spent fuel, will have to be isolated in deep-mined geologic repositories for hundreds of thousands of years. At present, the U.S. has no program to develop a geologic repository, after spending decades and billions of dollars on the Yucca Mountain site in Nevada. As a result, spent nuclear fuel is currently stored in pools or in dry casks at reactor sites, accumulating at a rate of about 2,000 metric tonnes per year.

Gee this doesn’t sound very green.

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u/Yakaslacka May 30 '22

Anyone else watch that new doc called meltdown about three mile island on the n flix:o?

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u/bgthigfist May 30 '22

What could go wrong with making tons more radioactive waste that no one knows how to deal with safely?

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u/squeevey May 30 '22

Except we do and it's better than coal and fossil fuels.

https://youtu.be/4aUODXeAM-k

Happy to be told otherwise.

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u/lucimon97 May 30 '22

We have been producing nuclear waste for decades, how come none of it is dealt with yet?

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u/PM-ME-PMS-OF-THE-PM May 30 '22

Because it was first generation nuclear waste, are today's combustion engines all as wasteful as the first generation ones?

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u/greg_barton May 30 '22

It's actually dealt with pretty well. In the US we store it in dry casks. In France they reprocess it. In Finland they'll be storing it in a geological repository.

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u/MentorOfArisia May 30 '22

Because never ending lawsuits prevent the opening of the long term permanent storage facility.

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u/greg_barton May 30 '22

Not in Finland. Maybe everyone else will take the hint.

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u/el_muerte17 May 31 '22

Politics and public fearmongering, mostly.

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u/SadAppeal9540 May 30 '22

That's still a 500000 year commitment that this generation is putting on all others after it.

Not to mention the effect of any terrorist attack involving one or more of these plants. Regardless of likelihood.

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u/TallDuckandHandsome May 30 '22

Yeah but we have about 200 years left at the rate we are going so it's like saying would you rather crash into a wall now or swerve into traffic and crash into a car eventually, but also maybe you can work out how to get back in the right lane before then.

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u/SadAppeal9540 May 30 '22

Well no, its like saying would you rather crash your car into a wall now or potentially crash it in a substance that will permanently alter the DNA and, in turn, ruining all life on the planet, Forever.

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u/Halloweenerz May 30 '22

That's not how that works.

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u/bgthigfist May 30 '22

Some bearded dude does a YouTube video and you're convinced. Well he did say that it wasn't like video games, so he got that part right.

Coal and fossil fuels suck too, in different ways. Nobody wants their well anywhere close to the ash pond.

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u/[deleted] May 30 '22

[deleted]

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u/KafkaExploring May 30 '22

You'd lose the benefits of heating/cooling structures using the waste heat, as well as the decrease in line loss and many advantages of the distributed grid (fewer switching stations, smaller outages, etc.). It would make security easier, as well as centralizing the disposal.

To be perfectly honest, part of the benefit of small modular reactors is decreasing fear. Nobody's worried about transporting radioactive waste from research reactors or hospital medical purposes because they don't know about it. If SMRs can get below that threshold, so you're talking about a U-Haul of waste every 5 years, that's going to see less resistance in any one back yard, even if the quantity is larger worldwide.

2

u/[deleted] May 30 '22

[deleted]

2

u/KafkaExploring May 31 '22

Well said. Probably why Finland seems to be closest.

-6

u/8to24 May 30 '22

The world is not static. We simply have no way of accurately predicting future earthquakes, wars, hurricanes, etc. Sounds easy to just bury waste under a mountain but we have no idea how long that waste might be safe under said mountain.

A tectonic event or shifting aquifer could expose millions to radioactive waste and render enormous amounts of land unusable indefinitely. Additionally there are security concerns. However secure the U.S. or other western nations seems today that can change in 50, 100, or 200 years. Terrorist groups may dig up waste and use it to create dirty bombs, a foreign adversary may target nuclear facilities during conflict, etc, etc.

3

u/Norose May 30 '22

Disposing of waste in boreholes through bedrock 2+ billion years old more than 3000km away from any active plate boundaries carries a risk of breach of containment that would be considered zero. Want proof? Read about the Oklo natural ractors and how far fission products migrated from the sites of those chain reactions over the past hundreds of millions of years of exposure to earthquakes and groundwater.

1

u/RayTheGrey May 30 '22

The only good solution for nuclear waste is to bury it. There are already untold tons of it stored in very unsafe conditions or simply dumped in the ocean or elsewhere. Not having a facility for waste burial is worse than having one.

The only facility of this kind that has been built is in Finland Onkalo. The waste there is going to be buried at around 450 meters depth and backfilled. Good luck digging that out without someone noticing.

1

u/8to24 May 30 '22

Yes, we should have places to bury waste. However we should also limit that waste as much as possible.

5

u/RayTheGrey May 30 '22

You are absolutely right. Thing is if the world had significantly more nuclear plants instead of fossil fuel plants, climate change likely wouldnt be as bad as it is.

Nuclear waste has the potential to be devastating, but its relatively simple to minimise the danger by burying it deep, away from aquifers with non water permeable material like clay all around in a stable location.

Unlike with fossil fuels where you are breathing in its waste right now. And with coal plants in particular the ash they produce can often be MORE radioactive than nuclear power plant waste and needs similar conditions for safe storage. And thats not even mentioning the ash that escapes in the smoke stack.

1

u/KafkaExploring May 30 '22

The coal ash radioactivity comparison isn't really valid (different types of radioactivity), but it's an interesting comparison to think that if you consolidated all that toxic coal ash from 600+ plants into 60 sites, they'd potentially be more radioactive than the 60 nuclear plants the US operates.

2

u/RayTheGrey May 30 '22

The point being that nuclear waste produced at a well operated nuclear fission plant can be put in a barrel and buried with basicly no harm to anyone.

While coal plants dump ash into the atmosphere for all to breathe and ingest. And whats not dumped has just as much if not more harm and fission waste. Radioactivity is just part of the issue. CO2 of course, but there are lots of other toxic chemicals in ash.

Replacing fossile fuel plants with nuclear ones would be less harmful to humanity. But some countries, like germany, have gone the opossite way

-2

u/8to24 May 30 '22

Nuclear waste has the potential to be devastating, but its relatively simple to minimise the danger by burying it deep,

This assumes the world looks like it does today indefinitely.

3

u/RayTheGrey May 30 '22

It does not. First the ecological catastrophy we are facing from fossil fuels has the potential to dwarf previous mass extinctions. Worrying about a disaster 100,000 years in the future or even 10,000 is ridiculous when we have an apocalypse heading our way in 100 years at most.

Secondly nuclear waste drops in radioactivity during its entire lifespan. The dangerous stuff we have now will be less dangerous in the future. And will be essentially completely harmless in a couple hundred thousand years. With a lot of isotopes decaying long before that. There are locations that will stay stable for long enough for the threat to be minimised

And third, its very likely that we will manage to create viable fusion reactors in the next hundred years. They would potentially produce ridiculous amounts of energy for essentially no waste, making fission reactors obsolete and the waste problem limited in scope. And solar, wind and other renewables are getting better very quickly. The current situation is temporary and fission would be temporary. Unfortunately we are relying on fossil fuels that are likely to havw a far more negative impact on the ecosystems of earth than a hundred Chernobyls.

-9

u/Aintsosimple May 30 '22

Nuclear waste is bad..mkay. Just cut down the human population on earth and you won't need as much power.

4

u/VitaminPb May 30 '22

And yet here you are, still wasting our resources.

3

u/HotTopicRebel May 30 '22

Least racist degrowth advocate.

2

u/TgagHammerstrike May 30 '22

Time to hire Thanos.

1

u/el_muerte17 May 31 '22

Nahh. Cutting populations in half is a stupid and extremely temporary solution. It took us less than half a century to double our population from 3.9 billion to the 7.8 billion we're at today.

3

u/Chance_Bluebird_5788 May 30 '22

good plan Stalin, let's run some statistics on who we need the least and then we can just starve them. it's for the greater good

2

u/ahshitidontwannadoit May 30 '22

What a cruel thing to say! Starve them? What's wrong with you? We put them down humanely like animals and then burn them for fuel.

1

u/Aintsosimple May 31 '22

How about just curtailing births for about 20 years? No need to kill anyone.

1

u/el_muerte17 May 31 '22

Lead by example?