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Documentary: Nuclear Power Isn't So Bad

UC Irvine’s Department of Chemical Engineering and Materials science hosted the 2013 Sundance Film Festival selection "Pandora’s Promise" Wednesday.

Directed by Academy Award-nominated Robert Stone, the feature-length documentary "Pandora's Promise" suggests current attitudes and fears about nuclear power may be an overreaction.

“It’s an investigative film and researched on fact,” Stone told the audience at UC Irvine Wednesday. “It’s really bolstered by facts –by science.”

The film, which advocates for nuclear energy's role in thwarting global warming, was screened along with a panel discussion at the university.

Pioneering engineers in the film discussed the renaissance of nuclear reactor designs as the next steps towards breaking away from fossil fuels. These third- and fourth-generation reactors are safer and ensure no meltdowns, they said.

Former American Nuclear Society President Ted Quinn encouraged debate on implementing new power plants across the nation and potentially at the site of the beleaguered San Onofre Nuclear Generating Station.

The plant south of San Clemente has been by a radioactive steam leak which revealed widespread damage throughout crucial components at the plant.

The San Onofre plant was retrofitted -- a process that finished in 2010 -- with new equipment that mirrored old reactor designs. Because of the manufacturing flaws that led to the shutdown, regulators, politicians, activists and plant officials have been wrangling for more than a year trying to decide what to do with the shuttered plant.

“The US is no longer the leader in nuclear energy –it’s China,” Quinn told the UCI audience. “We’re building 50 plants over there, but consider the jobs and opportunities that can hold as well.”

In the face of climate change and high-energy demands, nuclear science may provide a cleaner and safer global future, panelists said. Stone’s narrative includes personal stories from environmentalists and energy experts, including Stewart Brand, Gwyneth Craven, Mark Lynas, Richard Rhodes and Michael Shellenberger to speak about their journey in supporting nuclear energy.

“This film is about hope,” Stone said, “but it can’t be done without nuclear power.”

CaptD May 10, 2013 at 09:55 PM
Real factual, info about why San Onofre is dangerous, not pro Nuclear B$: https://docs.google.com/folder/d/0BweZ3c0aFXcFZGpvRlo4aXJCT2s/edit?pli=1&docId=1rmeut1NMP4Wh7j0GWJxoQVyeLEnsS7X-K2BaCcThLtc
CaptD May 10, 2013 at 09:57 PM
San Onofre's Restart Reports Fail BOTH NRC Safety Definition & Quality Assurance Standards Here is even more: http://decommission.sanonofre.com/2012/11/san-onofres-restart-reports-fail-both.html
CaptD May 10, 2013 at 09:57 PM
Awesome Animation: Dangerous San Onofre Generators http://decommission.sanonofre.com/2013/02/awesome-animation-dangerous-san-onofrre.html
CaptD May 10, 2013 at 09:59 PM
Complete set of DAB Safety Team documents on why San Onofre is flawed: DAB Safety Team & Related Info https://docs.google.com/folder/d/0BweZ3c0aFXcFZGpvRlo4aXJCT2s/edit You want data and factual information here it is, enjoy!
CaptD May 10, 2013 at 10:01 PM
San Onofre's Replacement Steam Generators have NO in-plane vibration protection as designed, so if they have a main steam line break or other beyond basis event then ALL BETS ARE OFF... That is factual engineering not nuclear baloney!
Frank Eggers May 10, 2013 at 10:15 PM
You said, "...so does the waist,...". I don't understand what the waist has to do with anything. My waist size is 30.5", but I don't see it as relevant or how it would be likely to be affected by radiation. In any case, if a nuclear plant does release small amounts of radiation, it is less than the radiation released by coal-burning plants. Coal does contain radioactive elements; they end up in the fly ash and the ash that is discarded in ash dumps. Regarding nuclear plants, any radiation they release is far below the natural background radiation level. I live in Albuquerque, which is about 5000 feet above sea level. Because of the altitude, the radiation I'm exposed to here is far greater than what I would receive living next door to a nuclear plant.
Jeff Steinmetz May 10, 2013 at 10:19 PM
SCE would like you to think that plugging tubes is a repair, but it is not a repair when the defective design that caused "unprecedented" tube to tube wear has not been changed in any capacity. Simply stated the real problem has not been fixed. They just put a bandage on it and are hoping it won't bleed radioactive steam AGAIN. Had it been a real repair/fix they would not be asking for only a 5 month trial run at 70%. They would want it at 100% and for the normal complete fuel cycle of 22 months.
george gregory May 10, 2013 at 10:20 PM
Two energies of radiation are commonly differentiated by the way they interact with normal chemical matter: ionizing and non-ionizing radiation. The word radiation is often colloquially used in reference to ionizing radiation (i.e., radiation having sufficient energy to ionize an atom), but the term radiation may correctly also refer to non-ionizing radiation (e.g., radio waves, heat or visible light) as well. The particles or waves radiate (i.e., travel outward in all directions) from a source. This aspect leads to a system of measurements and physical units that are applicable to all types of radiation. Because radiation expands as it passes through space and its energy is conserved (in vacuum), the power of all types of radiation follows an inverse-square law relation of power with respect to distance from its source. Both ionizing and non-ionizing radiation can be harmful to organisms and can result in changes to the natural environment. In general, however, ionizing radiation is far more harmful to living organisms per unit of energy deposited than non-ionizing radiation, since the ions that are produced by ionizing radiation, even at low radiation powers, have the potential to cause DNA damage. By contrast, most non-ionizing radiation is harmful to organisms only in proportion to the thermal energy deposited, and is conventionally considered harmless at low powers which do not produce a significant temperature rise.
Frank Eggers May 10, 2013 at 10:21 PM
Except for the metal mercury, which is a liquid at room temperature, molten metal does not remain molten when it cools; it becomes a solid. That's what happened when the reactor at Three Mile Island had a meltdown; the molten metal became a solid and did not escape to any place where it could do harm. The idea that one gram of Pu could kill every living thing on the planet is nothing but nonsense. The Pu bomb used in Japan obviously emitted Pu, but it didn't even kill everyone in Japan and the quantity was many times greater than one gram.
Frank Eggers May 10, 2013 at 10:22 PM
Are you sure that you passed high school physics?
george gregory May 10, 2013 at 10:28 PM
dear Wilson the above text is for you sorry for generalizing the term radiation when it is radioactive radiation most of us are concerned with not the pulse of a water gun or a sun burn my dear mental cup cake
Torgen Johnson May 10, 2013 at 10:29 PM
The public assumes that the regulatory agencies are doing their job. In reality the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission and the California Public Utilities Commission are coming under fire for being far too cozy with the utilities they are supposed to regulate. Remember the SEC and Wall Street? When this happens the public loses. When this happens with a failing nuclear reactor unit, the public could find itself shocked at how fast they go from living the California dream, to packing their cars and leaving their homes on a ONE-WAY exodus to escape a nuclear accident. Nuclear reactors are extremely powerful and complex machines that can fail catastrophically. The public's warning that things are going terrbily wrong is the radioactive leak from unprecedented wear in both nuclear reactor units 2 and 3, and the fact that Edison is NOT going to fix the serious defects before restarting reactor unit #2. It is hard to trust Edison when they demonstrate a wilingness to put profit before public safety by avoiding at all cost the adjudicatory hearing that the public demands to verify Edison's questionable judgement. For the public to trust Edison, the company must be transparent and verify their restart assumptions under oath before independent experts. If Edison has nothing to hide they should welcome the opportunity to prove themselves but Edison refuses to comply. 15 months offline means we do NOT need the power plant or the risk.
Jeff Steinmetz May 10, 2013 at 10:34 PM
Michelle- you just don't have the facts concerning power in the state of California. If you want to understand and comment on articles like this you should read the 2013 ISO Summer Loads and Resources Assessment. http://www.caiso.com/Documents/2013SummerLoads_ResourcesAssessment.pdf Now for the "BILLIONS of dollars" spent. SCE has not spent "BILLIONS" and I chalenge you to produce a document from the SEC or NRC that supports that statement.
Jeff Steinmetz May 10, 2013 at 10:58 PM
Wilson Goodrich thinks anyone who does not believe in Nuclear power are all "Bomb-tossers" . Way to go Wilson - Did you take that one out of the Karl Rove play book? So by that standard anyone not with you is a terrorist or a saboteur? Speaking of saboteur, people seem to keep forgetting we have one working at San Onofre. Can Robert Stone, Ted Quinn or any of one on this site tell me the FBI investigation concerning Sabotage at the plant has come to a close? Who did they put in jail? How come not a word is spoke about this? If it was from outside the plant you can bet it would be all over the news. But in this case it was from inside the plant and they want to keep it quiet and hope we all forget. http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/11/29/san-onofre-nuclear-plant-sabotage_n_2215260.html
CaptD May 11, 2013 at 01:15 AM
Sorry you are spreading nuclear baloney*! CA has not used any power form San Onofre in well over a year and has plenty of spare capacity without it according to the ISO... CA has the weather and space to become an Energy exporter without using ANY nuclear so why take any chances with our future, unless you are one of those making money from Nuclear! *Nuclear Baloney (NB) http://www.urbandictionary.com/define.php?term=Nuclear+Baloney
CaptD May 11, 2013 at 03:32 PM
Accelerated tube wear at San Onofre http://www.utsandiego.com/news/2013/apr/20/tubewear/ Good Diagrams of why San Onofre's replacement steam generators are unsafe!
CaptD May 11, 2013 at 03:33 PM
New inquiry at San Onofre focuses on nuclear commission http://www.utsandiego.com/news/2013/may/06/regulator-target-nuclear-investigation/?utm_source=Closing+the+gap+on+Poll+-+Petition+blows+past+1000+signatures&utm_campaign=Google+Analytics+Test&utm_medium=socialshare #NukeFreeCal
G.R.L. Cowan May 11, 2013 at 06:57 PM
"... restarting this plant puts Southern California at risk for another and possibly more serious radiation leak" -- um, dropping a big bag of kitty litter and having it break would be a more serious radiation leak. So Southern California is already at that risk, and cannot avoid it no matter what it does with San Onofre.
CaptD May 11, 2013 at 07:05 PM
To G.R.L. Cowan I guess you are unable to read the FACTUAL documentation about why San Onofre's replacement steam generators are unsafe at any power level and unlike you, even the NRC has serious reservations, otherwise they would have OK'd Edison's restart plan a very long time ago! Please get informed otherwise your comment seem just amateurish...
G.R.L. Cowan May 11, 2013 at 08:38 PM
Sunburn results from the high-energy tail of the solar spectrum, which is indeed ionizing.
CaptD May 12, 2013 at 01:52 AM
@ Frank Eggers People with Ph.D.'s that worked for the NRC are worried about restarting San Onofre, are you that educated? https://docs.google.com/folder/d/0BweZ3c0aFXcFZGpvRlo4aXJCT2s/edit?pli=1&docId=1rmeut1NMP4Wh7j0GWJxoQVyeLEnsS7X-K2BaCcThLtc
CaptD May 12, 2013 at 01:54 AM
@G.R.L. Cowan Your comment has ZERO to do with SDan Onofre's flawed replacement steam generators! Better read the comments before you post silly replies!
Frank Eggers May 12, 2013 at 03:29 AM
@ CaptD I am VERY well educated. I am not arguing about restarting San Onofre. It appears that the very design of the heat exchangers / steam generators is defective. Although the actual risk to the public may have been exaggerated, it is likely that the life of the steam generators would be rather limited in which case, without replacing them, probably the plant couldn't be operated for very long anyway. Although I greatly favor nuclear power, I am convinced that we have chosen a bad nuclear technology. Our pressurized water reactors have the following problems which could have been avoided with a better nuclear technology. Unfortunately, the size limitation of posts does not permit me to explain the problems with our pressurized water reactors and provide information on a better reactor type.
CaptD May 12, 2013 at 02:55 PM
@ Frank Eggers Education is great, I to am train in advanced engineering. Using Japan as a test case, they have more nuclear experts than other Countries yet they had a nuclear disaster which they will be dealing with for 40 to 100 years. Why, because when designs are modified to meet Corporate cost constraints then safety is always reduced. San Onofre's RSG design is flawed (at any power setting) because of the huge physical forces involved during a main steam line break or any other beyond basis accident! + As far as "other" new nuclear goes, you must accept that Solar (of all flavors) is now not only less costly to build, faster to install and creates no radioactive waste; so that is why Countries like Germany are shifting away from Nuclear ASAP. The US should spend be spending all it's R&D money trying to catch up with Germany, instead of wasting another Dollar on anything that has to do with nuclear? Plus, if by chance another country like China makes some great "discovery" then we can then decide to purchase that technology, after it is PROVEN) from them if we need some additional capacity that Solar (of all flavors) is not supplying! China has lots of money to throw at R&D, the USA does not... Another MAJOR point is that the USA cannot afford a Trillion Dollar Eco-Disaster like Fukushima and for most, that is reason enough to start decommissioning our reactors ASAP, which is what Germany is also doing!
CaptD May 12, 2013 at 03:32 PM
Ratepayers want low cost, SAFE energy and Solar is now ready to provide it. There are only three things standing in the way of FIXING our energy problem: 1. Our powerful Utilities, who want to keep us in Energy Slavery, so that we will be forced to purchase our energy from them instead of producing it ourselves for FREE (after the initial payback). 2. Our appointed regulators, who have a too cozy relationship with the very Utilities they regulate! They have been putting Utility shareholder profits ahead of following their sworn mandate and demanding that our "public" utilities provide energy to US at the lowest cost possible! Example: Why should Utilities be allowed to rip off residential solar panel owners by not reimburse them for the energy they add to the grid at the very same rate that the Utility pays itself when it adds energy to the grid? This would "level" the energy playing field and greatly reduce the payback periods of owning your own panels, which would make installing solar even a better deal! 3. Our Political Leaders are beholden to the Powerful Utilities because of large Utility donations and have been until recently hesitant to propose changes to "how the energy game is played" but now with a shrinking economy, the public resistance to ever higher energy costs and record Utility shareholder profits, energy is becoming a HOT political issue that Political Leaders cannot ignore any longer, if they want to stay in office or get elected.
CaptD May 13, 2013 at 12:29 AM
Energy Expert Predicts Solar Could Upend Major Utility in California on Price http://www.renewableenergyworld.com/rea/blog/post/2013/05/energy-expert-predicts-solar-could-upend-major-utility-in-california-on-price
CaptD May 15, 2013 at 07:25 PM
In light of yesterday's Atomic Safety and Licensing Board action on behalf of the NRC it is important to remember that the five NRC commissioners can reverse that decision, and they have a record of doing so. I believe it is time to start a letter, email, phone campaign to all five NRC commissioners letting them know that we are in agreement with the Atomic Safety Board's decision and demand nothing less, and we expect this to happen here in California without the NRC commissioners reversing this decision. We should continue this campaign everyday until the NRC commissioners have made a statement to the effect that they are not going to reverse this decision. Email address and Phone #'s of the NRC commission below. Chairman@nrc.gov Tel: 301-415-1750 CMRSVINICKI@nrc.gov Tel: 301-415-1855 CMRAPOSTOLAKIS@nrc.gov Tel: 301-415-1810 CMRMAGWOOD@nrc.gov Tel: 301-415-8420 CMROSTENDORFF@nrc.gov Tel: 301-415-1800
CaptD May 15, 2013 at 07:29 PM
From LA Times: The head of the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission said Tuesday that the agency will not make a decision on whether to restart the troubled San Onofre nuclear plant until late June at the earliest. http://touch.latimes.com/#section/-1/article/p2p-75915856/
CaptD May 15, 2013 at 07:32 PM
SCE is trying to low ball the numbers, I think 1.2 Billion Dollars is closer to the mark especially since SCE has been sucking about 70 Million Dollars every month, since Feb. 2012, from ratepayers while they have been trying every trick in the book to get themselves off the hook and/or having to repay ratepayers! How big a refund do you deserve?
CaptD May 15, 2013 at 07:33 PM
Some now think this is far more than Fraud, they are calling it: Corporate Terrorism... http://decommission.sanonofre.... What do you think it should be called, when the public is lied to time and time again, while at the same time these Utilities are taking ever more money from US for their own poor operational decisions which have resulted in an 1.6 Billion Dollars engineering debacle that should never have happened! Now they don't want to pay US back so they are doing everything they can to cut their losses instead of decommissioning San Onofre!

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