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Sat Feb 9, 2013, 08:45 PM

When a freeze shut down FIFTY natural gas and coal plants in Texas

This article from 2011 is dedicated to those who exhibit an obscene fascination with nuclear plants shut down by weather. Nuclear is - by far - the most reliable source of baseload energy.

"Freeze knocked out coal plants and natural gas supplies, leading to blackouts

The operators of Texas’ electricity grid blamed myriad problems at power plants across Texas for last week’s rolling blackouts. But interviews and a review of documents by The Dallas Morning News reveal that the breakdown of a cluster of coal-fired plants in Central Texas was at the heart of the problem.

To compound the problem, many of the natural gas-fueled plants that would normally fire up to restore power didn’t have enough gas.


The grid lost 7,000 megawatts of capacity, enough to power 1.4 million homes, and 50 power plants stopped working. Texans endured eight hours of rolling blackouts."


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Arrow 8 replies Author Time Post
Reply When a freeze shut down FIFTY natural gas and coal plants in Texas (Original post)
wtmusic Feb 2013 OP
Buzz Clik Feb 2013 #1
joshcryer Feb 2013 #2
wtmusic Feb 2013 #3
joshcryer Feb 2013 #4
wtmusic Feb 2013 #6
joshcryer Feb 2013 #7
kristopher Feb 2013 #8
wtmusic Feb 2013 #5

Response to wtmusic (Original post)

Sat Feb 9, 2013, 09:44 PM

1. You tell me where you're going to put the waste, and I will campaign for nuke power.


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Response to Buzz Clik (Reply #1)

Sat Feb 9, 2013, 09:55 PM

2. I only accept nuclear power whose waste is toxic for under 1k years.

It is simply impossible for me to conceive of keeping waste for 100k years that has 98% of its energy still contained.

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Response to joshcryer (Reply #2)

Sat Feb 9, 2013, 10:02 PM

3. Here's an option.

"The LFTR does still produce radioactive fission products in its waste, but they don't last very long - the radiotoxicity of these fission products is dominated by cesium-137 and strontium-90. The longer half-life is cesium: 30.17 years. So, after 30.17 years, decay reduces the radioactivity by a half. Ten half-lives will reduce the radioactivity to two raised to a power of ten, a factor of 1,024. Fission products at that point, in about 300 years, are less radioactive than natural uranium."


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Response to wtmusic (Reply #3)

Sat Feb 9, 2013, 10:08 PM

4. That's basically what I was aluding to, LFTR or IFR.

Or any other breeder variant that uses up all the energy in its fuel. I have said before that it would be OK to complete Gen III+ reactors already being constructed, but it would be better to focus on reactors whose waste is relatively benign and will decay quickly. I knew the 300 year number but for me the 1k year number is reasonable.

This is James Hansens' view as well.

Though I think we're going off the topic of the thread. It only goes to show that natural gas peaking for renewables is not a really good option at all. You need reliable storage.

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Response to joshcryer (Reply #4)

Sat Feb 9, 2013, 10:15 PM

6. Not only will waste from LFTRs decay quickly

but existing high-level waste (or more correctly, spent nuclear fuel) can be pulled from the ground at WIPP and burned up for energy.

That's why the need for 100,000 years of containment is a red herring - the assumption is it could never be used again, when it could likely be used again within decades.

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Response to wtmusic (Reply #6)

Sat Feb 9, 2013, 10:22 PM

7. Indeed.

When someone says, "We don't know how to get rid of the waste" my common answer is always "breeder reactors."

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Response to wtmusic (Reply #3)

Sat Feb 9, 2013, 11:20 PM


Arjun Makhijani, Ph.D. April 8, 2010

On the Web at http://www.ieer.org/reports/reprocessing2010.pdf

G. Reprocessing and spent fuel stocks from existing U.S. reactors
As we have seen, statements that 90 or 95 percent of the material in spent fuel can be used are completely invalid without breeder reactors. In this section we will examine some of the implications of a policy that seeks to deal with existing spent fuel by trying to convert the mass of the material into fuel and using it for energy, assuming that breeder reactors will work and can be deployed on a large scale.

We start with a heuristic calculation. A 1,000-megawatt nuclear power reactor fissions about one metric ton of heavy metal per year in the course of energy generation. At present, there are over 60,000 metric tons of spent fuel in the United States. With reactor re-licensing, the total amount of spent fuel could amount to well over 100,000 metric tons by the time the reactors are retired; 95-plus percent of the content of this spent fuel is uranium or transuranic elements (mainly plutonium). We will use a round number of 100,000 metric tons92 of uranium and plutonium content in spent fuel that would be converted into fuel. This corresponds approximately to statements that 90 or 95 percent of existing spent fuel has “energy value” and hence should not be regarded as waste. For instance, such a scheme would appear to be the one that Dr. Miller had in mind and that NRC Commissioner Bill Magwood made explicit in his discussions of spent fuel management.93

Setting aside for the moment a variety of difficult issues, including those associated with the rate of conversion of uranium-238 into plutonium, it is easy to see that it would take 100,000 reactor years (assuming 1,000 megawatt reactors) to convert the heavy metal content of spent fuel from the existing fleet of U.S. power reactors into fission products in a manner that extracts essentially all the physically possible energy value in it.

Assume a reactor operating life of 50 years, accumulating 100,000 reactor years would mean building 2,000 reactors to extract the energy in the total spent fuel from the existing fleet of reactors. This is about 20 times the size of the existing U.S. nuclear power system. It is four times the total electricity generation of the United States and seven or eight times the baseload requirements under the present centralized electricity dispatch system. If the material is consumed in a smaller number of reactors, the time to consume it would be proportionally increased. For instance, it would take 200 years to consume the material in 500 reactors.
The matter gets more complex when

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Response to Buzz Clik (Reply #1)

Sat Feb 9, 2013, 10:12 PM

5. At some point, all of America's spent nuclear fuel will likely end up here:

"The Waste Isolation Pilot Plant, or WIPP, is the world's third deep geological repository (after closure of Germany's Repository for radioactive waste Morsleben and the Schacht Asse II Salt Mine) licensed to permanently dispose of transuranic radioactive waste for 10,000 years that is left from the research and production of nuclear weapons. It is located approximately 26 miles (42 km) east of Carlsbad, New Mexico, in eastern Eddy County. It is located in an area known as the southeastern New Mexico nuclear corridor which also includes the National Enrichment Facility near Eunice, New Mexico, the Waste Control Specialists low-level waste disposal facility just over the border near Andrews, Texas, and the International Isotopes, Inc. facility to be built near Eunice, New Mexico."


WIPP has been in operation since 1999 storing DOD nuclear waste. The locals, who have seen the economic benefits the plant brings, don't share Nevada's phobia about spent nuclear fuel.

Nuke Us: The Town That Wants America's Worst Atomic Waste

"Bob Forrest is known for a lot of things in Carlsbad, a quiet city of 25,000 on the edge of New Mexico’s empty, endless Chihuahuan Desert. He was mayor here for 16 years. He’s chairman of the local bank and owns the spanking new Fairfield Inn, which sits next to the new Chili’s and the new Wal-Mart. And he helped bring 200,000 tons of deadly nuclear waste to town.

That’s not a bad thing—at least not here. Unlike thousands of other places in America, where the thought of trucking in barrels of radioactive garbage from atomic weapons plants would lead to marches, face paint and, invariably, pandering politicians (witness Nevada’s stalled Yucca Mountain project), Carlsbad has a different take. 'It’s really a labor of love,' says Forrest. 'We’ve proven that nuclear waste can be disposed of in a safe, reliable way.'

This attitude—'Yes in my backyard,' if you will—has brought near permanent prosperity to this isolated spot that until recently had no endemic economic engine. Unemployment sits at 3.8%, versus 6.5% statewide and 8.5% nationally. And thanks to this project—euphemistically known as the Waste Isolation Pilot Plant, or WIPP—New Mexico has received more than $300 million in federal highway funds in the past decade, $100 million of which has gone into the roads around Carlsbad. WIPP is the nation’s only permanent, deep geologic repository for nuclear waste. The roads have to be good for the two dozen trucks a week hauling in radioactive drums brimming with the plutonium-laden detritus of America’s nuclear weapons production."


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