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Comment Re:Cheap? (Score 1) 305

Government policy. Seriously, that's the reason. In fact, we've built one (EBR-II in Idaho) and it worked great for 30 years. Then we shut it down.

France reprocesses its high-level waste without any issue. As a result, they have vastly less waste to store and what's left to store is mostly low-energy garbage that doesn't present a significant threat.

Comment Re: Budget and Timelines (Score 1) 305

Any reactor with a negative void coefficient is safe, barring a major compromise from the outside (such as an earthquake and tsunami). And Fukushima's problem wasn't that the reactor was old or unsafe, it's that a known design flaw published by the manufacturer decades ago wasn't corrected at that particular plant per manufacturer guidelines. They simply decided it wasn't worth the cost and their regulatory agency allowed them to run with it.

And even with all that - a decades old design with a decades old known flaw left uncorrected, an earthquake, a tsunami, incompetence bordering on negligence on the part of the operator and the regulator - how many deaths as a result? There's a reason why nuclear ranks far better in safety for human life than all other types of electrical power generation (yes, including wind and solar).

Comment Re:6.8 Billion (Score 5, Informative) 305

Someone on Reddit already ran these numbers. For the money spent on this nuclear plant after it was stopped/restarted/held up by red tape/hit by NIMBY BS/etc, you could build enough solar to power 274,000 homes; a fraction of what the nuclear option provided. You also have to consider how much area that much solar or wind would cover and the impacts to the local environment and wildlife. Finally, there's the death toll. Both solar and wind power - per kWH generated - cause more human deaths than nuclear power. And I don't believe any of this considers actual power generation vs nameplate generation. That solar plant is going to generate roughly 30% of what it's slated peak output suggests due to weather, night time, etc. In the US, we run our nuclear power plants at about ~93% with the remaining time lost to maintenance, refueling, etc.

In other words, your "renewables" cost several times as much even with all the red tape thrown in nuclear's path, they generate far less power, they kill more humans, have a much greater environmental impact, and basically just fucking suck in every comparison. When we're talking about solar, the panel construction requires all kinds of horrifically toxic stuff to be put together. Both wind and solar require huge amounts of batteries; also a toxic mess. Reprocessing nuclear fuel cuts the waste down to almost nothing. A family of four that has their entire lives powered from birth to death by nuclear will be responsible for nuclear waste that fits in a Coke can. And once you're reusing the high-energy waste products, almost everything that's left is so low-energy it poses no significant risk.

Comment Re:Since when? (Score 2) 56

Super. How many of those violating the law will serve serious prison time? I'm guessing none. In other words, the law is useless bullshit specifically designed to placate a population of sheep who don't actually give a shit. Don't worry, we've got the same thing here.

Can anyone please point out a government anywhere in the world where everyone at all levels are truly accountable for their actions and face real and lasting consequences for violations of the law under color of authority? I'm not talking about laws or rules or regulations or a targeted middle management fall guy firing; I'm talking about a place where everyone involved in illegal activities on behalf of the government goes to prison when the activities come to light.

I'm guessing that's nowhere, yes? Great.

Comment Re:"IT" is on its way out (Score 1) 272

Actually, where it runs is quite relevant due to the economies of scale you get from jamming everything into centralized, standardized, efficient, virtualized spaces where heavy investment into automation, resilience, and predictability make sense. Whereas it may have taken a team to keep a handful of application and database servers up and running in the past with other teams responsible for dev, qa, integration, design, etc, a back-end team of the same size (with sufficient talent) can now manage thousands of similar systems with a fraction of the infrastructure. What's more, devs now merely have a platform for all their code to conform to, so there's no more opportunity (or real need) for customized architectures and integration. Here's your collection of Windows/Linux boxes. Now make your shit go. So a good chunk of the rest of those teams can go bye-bye too.

All this means less people on both sides of the table as the equations get exponentially simpler and more efficient. However, it does mean you need everyone who's left to be people who are at the top of their game. So if you aren't already top talent, it's time to move as fast as you can to become that. The days of CYA, laying low, and riding the wave of inefficiency by flying under the radar are running out in a lot of places. If you're a superstar with useful skills in the new model who stands out to people, you'll have a home (and you're probably going to see your income climb if you're smart about your career path). If you aren't, you're going to be standing in lines for a while until you figure out what's next.

Comment Re:Who knew? (Score 5, Informative) 295

It's pretty simple when you boil it down to its basic facts.

  • Fact 1: Girl was diagnosed and was being treated for a rare genetic disorder by qualified medical professionals at Tufts Medical Center.
  • Fact 2: Prior to incident in Boston, girl was shown on video walking, skating, and otherwise living a fairly normal life.
  • Fact 3: Hospital in Boston decided girl's medical condition was purely psychological and parents were forcing unnecessary treatment.
  • Fact 4: After the "care and treatment" received at hospital in Boston for nearly a year and a half, girl's condition declined to the point she could not stand, walk, or even sit unassisted and was in constant agonizing pain.
  • Fact 5: After resuming treatment for original diagnosed problem and receiving surgeries to correct year and a half of damage done by lack of treatment for original diagnosed problem, girl is recovering and is now speaking out against the lack of treatment and the whole ordeal wherein she was kept from her parents and locked in a psych ward.
  • Fact 6: State/courts initially backed the hospital and held the parents liable for child abuse, threatening to remove permanent custody and make the child a ward of the state
  • Fact 7: On the cusp of killing the girl with negligence, the state finally cut a deal whereby the parents (you know, the ones who were abusing their child so severely that the state needed to protect the child by forcibly taking custody and prosecuting the parents) would take their child back and quietly leave the state.


This isn't a complicated situation and we don't need Matlock to figure out what the fuck happened here. It's pretty plain and simple, actually.

Comment Re:Who knew? (Score 5, Informative) 295

Do some research on the case. The hospital's opinion is at odds with a load of other independent medical experts with direct familiarity of the case. The state and the hospital overstepped their rightful authority in such an extreme example of overreach that it crosses well past the point of negligent misfeasance and frankly some people out to be in prison over it and the state and the hospital should be splitting the cost for real care for Justina for the rest of her life.

That said, I don't think that justifies attacking the hospital electronically or physically; just through legal channels. But the hospital and courts were complete and utter pieces of shit in this case.

Comment Re:Unfair to bash nuclear (Score 1) 254

How about another source referring to a more recent Duke study? Further, coal slurry has plenty of heavy metals which are also ugly environmental contaminants that react poorly with human populations, particularly when they leech into water supplies (or just bury your town). In any event, I can't imagine anyone making the argument that it's good for humans or for the environment to have mountains of coal slurry hanging around. Outside of a coal lobbyist, I don't think anyone actually believes it's harmless.

And you have to admit the Wikipedia linked info about Shakti is pretty damn thin. An offhand comment in a publication appears to suggest that maybe possibly something somewhere could have come from Bill's father-in-law's third cousin twice removed on a stormy Tuesday...

Comment No they can't, I'm special (Score 4, Funny) 990

Electric cars won't ever work because I drive 3,000 miles each way to work every day across all the peaks of the Himalayas hauling seven shipping containers filled with concrete. And if an electric car can't do that without me having to stop along the way, it's a useless piece of shit that nobody can ever use for anything. /UsualElectricCarNaysayers

Comment Re:Unfair to bash nuclear (Score 1) 254

You are saying that NOW after India used it to make nuclear weapons? Seriously?

Well, first of all, they didn't. They used the CIRUS research reactor in Trombay. The US and Canada gave it to them under an agreement that it would only be used for peaceful purposes.

Oh come on now, do you think the readers are really that stupid? Alex Gabbard pushed that line and the bullshit about terrorists building nukes from ash but he was getting paid to lie when he did it. It's no more real than his novels about hillbilly moonshiners.
It's as radioactive as fucking sand because that's what the stuff that becomes ash was before it ended up as impurities in coal.

I didn't say anything about building nukes from coal slurry, so that's a strawman. I made the point that coal has real, measurable impacts that one can actually see whether one subscribes to the concept of global climate change caused by human activities (such as burning coal) or not. The idea is that you can readily see severe environmental impacts from coal and oil power plants without having to get into any sort of complex interconnected open system dynamics. You can just see entire towns buried by fucking coal slurry like Kingston, TN and in Martin County, KY.

Also, coal ash is more radioactive than nuclear waste. But please, don't let facts get in the way of whatever agenda it is you're pushing. You done yet?

Comment Re:Unfair to bash nuclear (Score 1) 254

My point was not that it's a politically feasible plan. My point was that it's a technically feasible plan. The fact that it requires foresight and a supermajority of human beings actually thinking and acting rationally and in the best interests of the species as a whole (i.e. it'll never happen) does not negate the fact that there is no technical impediment to successfully implementation. Further, we'd all be far better off for it. But none of that matters because people - as a whole - won't agree to do things that make sense for everyone.

Comment Re:Unfair to bash nuclear (Score 1) 254

Two issues there: 1) CANDU actually is proliferation resistant (meets international standards for resistance anyway) and 2) No, India did not get it from there; they got the material from the CIRUS research reactor at Trombay that the US and Canada provided them under an agreement that it would only be used for peaceful purposes. So you're batting 1.000 somewhere, but unfortunately, this is Earth. :-)

But neither of those things really matter anyway for a simple reason: most of what you're getting out of a CANDU plant is easy to get if you have the technical understanding to actually build a working weapon out of it. If you're going for a uranium device and you want enriched uranium, build calutrons and get your uranium. They're old tech that's well understood and documented. A group of decent engineering grad students with a few hundred bucks could build one in a garage and get decent materials out of it (though anyone operating it likely wouldn't live too long). But most of what the CANDU plant is going to give you is plutonium and you aren't building a working device out of that without serious know-how. North Korea's been trying to make that work for decades and they can't do it. Plenty of others have also tried and failed many, many times. In that case, the plutonium is the easy part; making a weapon that can bring it to criticality is the challenge.

So what's the risk? A country that already has everything it needs for a bomb has one additional avenue, maybe, if they can bypass the safeguards? Nobody's joining the nuclear club because of CANDU - they're doing it because they've decided to do so and it really isn't that hard if you aren't trying to do the super cool shit.

Comment Re:Unfair to bash nuclear (Score 1) 254

CANDU has pretty solid safeguards against weaponization, but it's not like enrichment is all that difficult. Calutrons are fairly simple and old tech you can build in a garage (though you may not want to actually start processing material there if you enjoy being alive for long). You won't get amazing stuff out of them, but if all you're looking for is a uranium gun device, they'll do the job. If you're going with a plutonium based device, the synchronized, symmetric implosion is really your long pole anyway. Getting the plutonium will never be the real challenge there and an unlimited supply won't help you if it just blows itself apart prior to criticality.

CANDU designs are already prepared for MOX fuel cycles (and theoretically, they'll run on thorium as well but nobody's ever actually implemented it to the best of my knowledge), but you'll want to take that into account when actually building the plant or you'll be in for some expensive refitting later. They don't do it in Canada for the same reason we don't in the US: policy says don't do it. But they've reprocessed used fuel in Europe, Russia, Japan, and other places around the world for a long time. You can actually also feed weaponized material from decommissioned nuclear weapons into these reactors as well (a process the US Department of Energy is looking into, since we have a whole lot of that stuff sitting around now thanks to START, START II, etc).

That cuts a significant amount of your high level waste. You feed the rest into a fairly small number of fast neutron reactors. Yes, they'll be more expensive to run, but they're serving a greater purpose (turning dangerous waste into power and vastly less dangerous waste with significantly diminished time to reach non-hazardous status). House them in very safe, stable places like the US, Canada, and western Europe. We'll take what's left of the reprocessed material that the CANDU plants can't use anymore and extract most of what's left of its energy until there's just a tiny amount of waste with very little remaining energy. What remains is very easy to safely store and there's not much of it anyway.

And before you tell me the fast neutron reactors are a pipe dream of the future, EBR-II ran for 30 years (until Congress pulled its budget in 1994 - thanks GOP!) without issue. Not only did it work and actually produce electricity, but it was truly passively safe (tested in 1986 in a complete pull-the-plug test with all emergency systems offline - the physics of the design itself caused it to shut down naturally on its own in the absence of the systems that normally run it). The design was commercialized, but hasn't yet been picked up - largely due to NIMBY and the economic and political problems it creates with state and local governments. So we already have the tech developed and tested; we're merely choosing not to implement it via incompetence and ignorance.

None of this is politically feasible. It would require human beings behaving rationally and in the interests of the species as a whole. People on the right (no, not all of them) don't want to buy into the idea that fossil fuels are bad for the environment (even in cases where it's unquestionable that they are like towns buried under radioactive coal slurry) and people on the left (no, not all of them) have an irrational fear of radiation that rivals the anti-vaccine hysteria. Between that and the international cooperation it'd take, plus all the money required to get it kicked off, plus the coordination required, bureaucratic red tape to cut through, corruption to deal with, general incompetence, etc, it isn't going to happen anytime soon. But there's no technical reason we couldn't do it if we suddenly starting thinking and acting rationally in the best interests of our own species.

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