Reforming the NRC

Drain the swamp, baby.

I propose the following to fix the NRC. If this doesn’t work, it can’t be fixed and should thereafter be abolished. (Yes, the NRC is broken.)

The NRC will now have one application and one application only, whether it be 1 page or 10,000 pages. Applicants will fill out the form and pay a $100,000 filing fee. The NRC will have 4 weeks to review the application and then they must issue a permit, combined construction and operation. This new application will be available January 31, 2017. (The NRC better hurry, they only have 2 months.)

I think this is analogous to gun permits, once a person fills out the permit and meets the requirements, the state must issue the permit. Anti-gunners have tried to delay these permits in the past, but baloney. Likewise, the NRC must issue the permit within 4 weeks after the applicant has filled out the application and paid the fee.

My next proposal concerns the funding of the NRC. The NRC ought to suffer the fortunes and misfortunes of the industry they regulate. Here is how it will go:

Take the NRC annual budget of 2015 and divide by 10. Then, divide this by the total number of kilowatt-hours produced by the nuclear fleet in 2015. This is the base rate.  Each NPP will then pay this base rate to the NRC annually based on the electricity generated. If the total kilowatt hours produced declines in a year because of closure of existing power plants, then the budget of the NRC will be lower.  New plants coming on line will also pay this amount, when they start delivering commercial power. Note, however, that new plants will not pay anything beyond the $100,000 application fee until they actually deliver commercial power.

If the NRC shuts down the fleet or a single NPP, those plants will pay no fees to the NRC until they again produce commercial power and pay fees at the base rate. It is believed that these changes will make the NRC balance public safety with the production of electrical power/economics.

It’s a thought.


Here are the numbers for the base rate:

2015 Budget of the USNRC is about a billion dollars

kilowatt hours produced by the US nuclear fleet in 2015=  797.2 billion kWh

$1 billion divide by 10 = $100 million

$100 million divided by 797.2 billion kWh = 0.000125 $ per kWh base rate (just over one one hundredth of a penny per kilowatt hour generated. (Yes, Virginia, this is a lot less than the NRC is currently receiving. Do we have your attention now?)


My Daughter is Not (That) Radioactive (Anymore)

A couple of posts ago, I used a Geiger counter to demonstrate the radioactivity of Tech99, with a half life of 6 hours.  The Geiger counter was beeping like crazy a few hours after the procedure, but two days later, only 0.3 percent of the Tech99 remained.

Half life is an important physical property of radioactive materials. The shorter the half life, the more intensely radioactive the element. The longer the half life, the less radioactive the element. For example, Tech99 has a half life of 6 hours and is very radioactive, but thorium has a half life of 14.5 billion years, so it is not very radioactive and there is still a lot of it around since it was created at the beginning of the universe. Tech99 does not exist naturally.

My daughter is still a little radioactive, just like me and you and everybody else. We have Carbon14 and Portassium40 in us, from the things we eat. Our cells can’t tell the difference between “natural” radiation and “man-made” radiation. The effects are the same, but depend on dose and dose rate.



Some Nuclear Fun

You gotta have some fun once in a while, or you might go nuts.

Here are some fun graphics I freely stole off social media. molten-salt-homer-simpson


log-scale-2On a more serious note:

japan-energy-after-fukushimaThis shows graphically the government mandated closure of all the nuclear power plants in Japan after the damage to the Fukushima reactors caused by the tsunami. The electricity previously generated by nuclear fission was replaced with gas, coal and oil. This cost the Japanese an additional $150 billion dollars. Notice I said an additional $150 billion. Money that would not have been spent to buy oil, gas, and coal if the undamaged nuclear power plants would have been allowed to continue operation.

How fun is that?



My Daughter is Radioactive!

From Theo Gray's periodic table of the elements

From Theo Gray’s periodic table of the elements

It’s true. My daughter is radioactive! She had a diagnostic procedure done today using technetium99m. It is called a HIDA scan. The tech99m has a half life of 6 hours, so 93.75% of it is gone within a day. The radiation is gamma with 140KeV energy.

Check out the video (but please ignore the Michigan sweatshirt, jk):

Tens of millions of procedures like this are done every year.

This article claims the HIDA scan for gall bladder problems is very effective. I might also say that it is very safe.

My point is that nuclear technology like this is a great benefit to mankind. Molten salt reactors produce can produce vast amounts of energy and isotopes like tech99 for the benefit of mankind!

Also, note that the patient, was given no instructions to avoid other people or to pee in special containers that have to be stored at Yucca Mountain for 10,000 years. (Yes, I know the half life is 6 hours, but the longer the half life, the less radioactive the element is.)

Contrast this with the berserk response when a minuscule amount of radioactive tritium is found around a nuclear power plant.



MSRE Video!

This old video looks and feels like an Epcot Center or maybe a World’s Fair, but it is an informational video that shows important details of Molten Salt Reactor Experiment that was conducted at Oak Ridge National Lab 50 years ago.

Note the “computer” they used. My smartphone probably has 100 times the computing power of that old thing and 100,000 times the memory.

I continue to be amazed at this technology and even more amazed that it has gone unused for my entire lifetime.

Enjoy the show, folks!


Good source of Information about the History and Current State of Thorium Reactors

If you have the time, this video is very informative. It tells the basic history of nuclear power, starting with the Manhattan Project, and how uranium got the upper hand. The video was produced in Europe and is mostly in French, with subtitles. (sorry, but still very valuable)

The narrator is the ghost of Alvin Weinberg. There is a cameo of Kirk Sorenson and many others involved in promoting Thorium.



Ending the ruinous addiction to oil

“Ending the ruinous addiction to oil”

That sounds like something I might say, but those are the words of Robert F. Kennedy, Jr. His entire article can be found here.

I will use my regular format to discuss this article; Kennedy’s words are in block quotes, and my comments follow.

The CIA began its active meddling in Syria in 1949 — barely a year after the agency’s creation. Syrian patriots had declared war on the Nazis, expelled their Vichy French colonial rulers and crafted a fragile secularist democracy based on the American model. But in March 1949, Syria’s democratically elected president, Shukri-al-Quwatli, hesitated to approve the Trans-Arabian Pipeline, an American project intended to connect the oil fields of Saudi Arabia to the ports of Lebanon via Syria. In his book, Legacy of Ashes, CIA historian Tim Weiner recounts that in retaliation for Al-Quwatli’s lack of enthusiasm for the U.S. pipeline, the CIA engineered a coup replacing al-Quwatli with the CIA’s handpicked dictator, a convicted swindler named Husni al-Za’im. Al-Za’im barely had time to dissolve parliament and approve the American pipeline before his countrymen deposed him, four and a half months into his regime.

Thus, the US has been meddling in foreign affairs in the Arab world for seven decades and for what? Oil, of course and an oil pipeline, specifically.  The CIA and Big Oil (I know, I am repeating myself) always follow the same playbook: Overthrow the existing ruler, who is not supporting Big Oil with a combination of propaganda, covert and overt force and put in place a stooge who does support Big Oil.

Fast forward to 2009:

Secret cables and reports by the U.S., Saudi and Israeli intelligence agencies indicate that the moment Assad rejected the Qatari pipeline, military and intelligence planners quickly arrived at the consensus that fomenting a Sunni uprising in Syria to overthrow the uncooperative Bashar Assad was a feasible path to achieving the shared objective of completing the Qatar/Turkey gas link. In 2009, according to WikiLeaks, soon after Bashar Assad rejected the Qatar pipeline, the CIA began funding opposition groups in Syria. It is important to note that this was well before the Arab Spring-engendered uprising against Assad.

Thus, nothing has changed in 70 years. This is the legacy brought to the world by Big Oil and corrupt US foreign policy. What has been the cost of the most recent shenanigans in the Middle East?

The million refugees now flooding into Europe are refugees of a pipeline war and CIA blundering.

Let’s face it; what we call the “war on terror” is really just another oil war. We’ve squandered $6 trillion on three wars abroad and on constructing a national security warfare state at home since oilman Dick Cheney declared the “Long War” in 2001.

Remember, these are not my words, but the words of Robert F. Kennedy, Jr.

He ends with these words:

It’s time for Americans to turn America away from this new imperialism and back to the path of idealism and democracy. We should let the Arabs govern Arabia and turn our energies to the great endeavor of nation building at home. We need to begin this process, not by invading Syria, but by ending the ruinous addiction to oil that has warped U.S. foreign policy for half a century.

I doubt that I would agree with Kennedy’s ideas of nation building here at home, and I certainly wouldn’t want to be the focus of Chain Dickey, but I do agree that we should mind our own business.

Kennedy is incorrect that it has only been half a century of oil intervention. By his own article, it is close to 70 years that the US has been meddling in Syria for oil on behalf of the Dulles Brothers and clients. I submit that it has not warped US foreign policy, but is the very quintessence of US foreign policy.

I promote nuclear energy because there is enough and to spare for the entire world. Since nuclear is a million times more energy dense than fossil fuels, no pipelines are needed, neither are oil tankers and neither is Chain Dickey.

Nuclear cuts to the heart of the global control of people and resources. Thus, it is no wonder that nuclear finds itself slandered from every quarter by those who stand to lose that global control


Energy Lies from H & M

I was at the H&M store in City Creek in Salt Lake (with my wife, of course, why else would I go there?) and saw this incredible statement:

HandM LiesThey claim that 100% of their stores in the US are powered with renewable electricity. What is that supposed to mean? There are a few electrons in the MWh they use that come from wind and solar? I think the statement is meaningless PR drool (aka lies).

I have written about Utah’s mix of electric power before. Seventy-eight percent of the electricity in Utah comes from coal.

Every store in City Creek could claim their store is powered with renewable electricity, since the entire complex is grid connected. What then is the point? We are trendy and believe in trendy things like renewable energy?

Hey H&M, why don’t you leave the energy thing to grownups and stick to what you know best – fashion?


Hiroshima and Nagasaki

Seventy one years ago this month, the United States dropped two atomic bombs, one on Hiroshima and one on Nagasaki. (The only atomic weapons ever used.) The bomb dropped on Hiroshima was of highly enriched uranium, while the bomb dropped on Nagasaki was plutonium. I could write a book about what I have learned in the last few years about the back story to both of these bombs, but I don’t want guilt ridden, addled, octogenarian veterans writing back to me.

Atomic_bombing_of_JapanThe uranium bomb was never tested before Hiroshima because its creators were so certain it would work. The plutonium type bomb, on the other hand was tested at Alamogordo at the Trinity site in New Mexico before being used at Nagasaki.

The Energy from Thorium FB page called this the worst PR rollout possible for nuclear energy in the history of the cosmos. I agree.

Whatever the political and military expediency, real, imagined, or invented post hoc was, it did not nor could it ever consider that humanity would still be paying the price today for the decision to drop those bombs.

Yes, the horror of those bombings is the genesis of the fear that is so easily manipulated today, that prevents the world from enjoying the energy that is locked inside the nuclei of certain heavy elements.

Maybe that will never change until we say sorry for Hiroshima and Nagasaki. Would that be so hard? Does that require everyone else to say they are sorry first?



Nuclear Waste – A Modest Proposal for a Small Problem

Waste disposal is not a disadvantage of nuclear power; it is one of its advantages.

But for opponents of nuclear power, they can’t help themselves from turning a silk purse into a sow’s ear, the sow and her wallowing in the mire.

Nuclear power production is the only power production process that actually can sequester its byproducts from the environment. Solar and wind can’t do this. (Please ask me about the hydrofluoric acid used to make solar cells or the bisphenol A and epichlorohydrin used to make wind turbine blades.)

Dr. Bernard Cohen calculated that the lifetime nuclear waste, assuming that all electricity produced was from nuclear, for one person would amount to about an aspirin bottle.IMG_8416

I don’t remember the aspirin bottle analogy, but the actual radioactive waste produced is about 0.5 cubic centimeter per year per person serviced — assuming that each person uses an average of 1 KW. That would be about 35 cm3 per lifetime, which approximates an aspirin bottle. If the material is converted to waste-glass, the volume would be about 10 times larger. I have published lots of papers on risk analysis of rad waste and can send you copies if that would be useful. If you want this, please specify whether you want technical or popular versions. The material is also covered in my book, “The nuclear Energy Option” Bernard L. Cohen

Dr. Cohen’s calculation of the amount of nuclear waste per person was based on first generation nuclear power plants using light water technology. Others have calculated that the amount would fit in a soda can.IMG_8454

Still others have calculated that the amount of nuclear waste, using a liquid fluoride thorium reactor, would be about the same as a package of Skittles I got from my local credit union. Also, many of the fission products have economic value. They are not waste and do not need to be disposed of.

IMG_8409Of the remaining amount that is actually waste, my very modest proposal for this small amount of nuclear waste is to take it with me when I go.

Concrete vault and coffinI could hold it in my hand inside my coffin and concrete vault while I await resurrection.