Re: Should we go nuclear and conquer space?
Posted by Southern Man on Jul 15, 2002 at 08:25
Re: Should we go nuclear and conquer space? (DA Morgan)
“Funny. I thought I got my education from Stanford University. “
You certainly haven’t proved that in this forum.
“Anyway ... I am very well acquainted with half-life and probably understood it while you were still in diapers.“
Since you obviously don’t have a clue yet, I doubt that also but you never can tell what Alzheimer’s can do to a person’s knowledge.
“Lets try again sans nonsense. If one gram of radioactive waste is capable of delivering a fatal dose today and something has a half-life of 250,000 years that means that it will take two grams in a quarter-million years.“
Since radiation is a statistical event, there is no guarantee that any quantity is or is not safe or harmful. We can only say that X units of radiation is almost always fatal or Y units is fatal to half the population or Z units is small enough that it would be statistically unlikely that it would cause harm. But one atom can cause cancer and people have survived doses that should have been fatal.
Now, as to your quarter-million year nonsense, what isotope has a half-life of 250,000 years? Certainly not any plutonium isotope. Have you given up on plutonium as being the thing we need to worry about because you know you can’t prove it’s dangers?
“That may qualify as 'less harmfull' but it does not qualify has 'harmless'. “
Speaking of nonsense. What you are saying is that as long as one atom exists it is still harmful. Then why bother with half-life? If you have 10^23 atoms of plutonium, how many half-lifes would it take before the last atom disintegrated?
“If fuel rods can be safely handled a few weeks later by hand ... perhaps that was a bad example.”
Is that a hint of admitting error? I’m shocked!!!
“Perhaps I should have said the contents of the fuel rod.”
If we are going to discuss the contents of a fuel rod, then we also need to discuss the contents of a smoke detector. In a smoke detector there is a package containing a radioactive isotope. The contents of a 6 month old fuel rod are similar to the contents of a smoke detector. I would suggest you not eat either but I don’t think we need to panic at the thought that there is nothing to prevent a small child from doing so.
But let's assume we ignore common sense (since you revel in that most of the time anyway). If we were to remove the contents of every fuel rod in the US today, grind it up and create ~250,000,000 pellets, sugar coat them and pass them out to everyone in the US we could all swallow our pill and never exceed the EPA limits for single event ingested radioactive sources.
“Still I wonder what it is you think is going to be transported to Nevada and buried?”
What is being transported is stuff that has been sitting in our neighborhoods for 30 years. We have always had a zero emissions tolerance for anything nuclear. The general public didn’t/doesn’t understand that the amount of radiation that an atomic bomb releases is not comparable to the amount of radiation in a nuclear reactor. If an atomic bomb killed people then a nuclear reactor must also. Therefore nuclear fuel rods were going to kill anyone who even looks at them. The anti-nukes jumped on this in the 70’s as a way to stop the US economy which was about to dramatically reduce the cost of electricity which would put them even farther ahead in the capitalist/socialist war. They managed to get the half dozen or so storage facilities for nuclear fuel rods shut down with a promise that nuclear plants would store fuel locally until the federal government established a single depository by 1980. Then they went to work on making sure no federal depository would ever get approved. They delayed it 20 years but we are finally able to abide by the law and nuclear plants can now stop storing their fuel rods locally and send them off for permanent storage as they used to. The problem isn't so much the safety of the rods as the hassle of storing them. It would be as if the government demanded that you no longer could sell an old automobile to a scrap yard. If you want to drive an auto you must build a garage to store it for the indefinite future. After 30 years you are tired of all the old rusting hulks and the fact that you have to keep building new garages.
The fuel rods that are being transported are far safer than the flyash that we routinely dump in ponds at coal fired plants. That flyash kills everything it touches and the heavy metals leach into the ground water. But that’s OK because no one ever built a bomb from coal. The only complaint anyone ever has is how large the ponds have to be and how the evil corporations keep buying more land for them. A small amount of nuclear waste collected over 30 years is something to march in the streets for. The same weight of flyash created per hour is insignificant.
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