Author Archives: Martin Kral

About Martin Kral

Retired, just having fun writing about energy.

The ICPP Report has been ‘hacked’

The ICPP (Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change) of 2015 promoted the need for clean nuclear energy in order to save the earth from climate change. Just three years later the ICPP Report 2018 attacks nuclear power, as a key climate solution, by promoting the notion that it risks nuclear weapons proliferation, may cause childhood leukemia, and destroys the natural environment. So which report is right and which report is wrong because both were signed off by the consensus of climate change scientist.

Without a doubt, the ICPP Report has been taken over by politics. There has always been a bias to favor the wind and solar energy industries because they provide the broadest range of wealth distribution from end to end of the product and labor life cycles. That cycle would consist of the mining operations in Africa with child labor to the manufacturing of toxic materials to be assemble into the product by cheap Chinese labor and imported into the US without any tariffs to protect the US renewable industry. And to add insult to injury, the US tax payer pays up to 30-50% of the cost in subsidies to install the wind and solar farms all over our beautiful landscape.

In fact, study after study over the last 40 years finds that nuclear is the safest way to make reliable electricity, and climate scientists found that nuclear energy has saved 1.8 million lives by preventing premature deaths from air pollution. Where nuclear was 19% of U.S. electricity last year, solar and wind still constitute just 1.3% and 6.3% of electricity in the U.S., and 1.3% and 3.9% of electricity globally.
And yet IPCC describes nuclear technology as inherently flawed in contrast to renewable’s whose problems can be solved through “policy interventions.” In reality, there is no policy intervention that can change the physics of making electricity.

I actually supported parts of the ICPP 2015 Report the last time around because it actually recognized nuclear energy as a clean solution to managing climate change. With their recent position on nuclear energy, throwing out accusations that are baseless, makes me reconsider the entire issue of the climate change agenda.

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Mothers for Nuclear:

I am not sure the #MeToo movement or the #WatchItBuster follow-on agenda really conveys the real power women have in this world. There are many example to choose from if you actually studied the topic. I am only interested in just one women that changed the world – Marie Curie, also known as Madame Curie.

She was the first woman to win a Nobel Prize and the first person, and only woman, to win two Nobel Prizes, one for physics, in 1903, and the other for chemistry. This occurred during the time when the world didn’t even know about nuclear radiation and her discoveries with radiation has made her the first mother of nuclear.

But more important than any of her many recognitions, Marie Curie was the first atomic humanist. What’s an atomic humanist? Someone who puts the power of the atom in service of the world, not herself. Her life exemplified her care, her courage, her passion, and her commitment.

Her greatest achievement was to put the power of radiation in service of humankind. When World War I broke out, she went to the French government with a plan: she would create and oversee, with her 17 year-old daughter Irene, 200 mobile medical units — which would become known as “petites Curies” — to use x-rays to diagnose injuries. She invented hollow needles containing “radium emanation,” a radioactive gas, now known as radon, to be used for sterilizing infected tissue. During four years of war, Marie’s petites Curies treated an astonishing one million wounded soldiers.

In 1979, another women as the lead actress in the movie called ‘The China Syndrome’ put the fear of radiation on center stage and completely shut down the US Nuclear Industry. Jane Fonda became the lead activist against nuclear energy and convinced other mothers of the potential dangers of radiation on their children with the power of emotional fear.

Today, Mothers for Nuclear (https://mothersfornuclear.org/) are fighting for nuclear’s transcendent moral purpose of achieving peace, prosperity, and environmental protection. As Marie Curie said, “Nothing in life is to be feared, only understood. Now is the time to understand more so that we might fear less.”

Our energy debate is actually anti-human:

First problem is that our energy discussion is biased. What I noticed was that for certain forms of energy, namely solar and wind, all I ever heard were positives. With others, especially nuclear, all I ever heard were negatives. But when I researched the different production processes, for example, I found that it’s actually far more dangerous to mine for the raw materials in wind turbines–rare earth metals–than for coal. That doesn’t mean that coal is better than wind, but it does mean that we’re not looking at negatives of one and we are looking (only) at negatives of another. If we’re doing that, we are not going to make the right decisions.

The second problem is that our energy discussion is sloppy. Let’s take the issue of CO2 levels. There’s a concern that because CO2 is a warming agent of sorts, when we increase the level of CO2 in the atmosphere, we might expect it to have a warming impact. What I found was that when people were talking about CO2 levels, they talked about it very sloppily saying things like, “Do you believe that climate change is real?” That question is too vague. I believe that CO2 has some impact, but not a significant impact and definitely not a catastrophic impact. That does not make me a climate change denier.

The third thing, which I think is the most important, is that our discussion of energy is anti-human. It doesn’t truly value human life. Take the climate issue; You have people say, “Oh, I care about CO2 because it’s harmful to human life” and yet often oppose the two best forms of energy that don’t emit CO2, nuclear power and hydropower. If we rank energy technologies from most safe to least safe, which is the safest technology ever invented? Nuclear power by a long shot.

What’s going on is that the standard that we’re using in our energy discussion is not human life. It’s “being green.”. North Korea is a much greener country than South Korea when you look at it in terms of human impact. Where would you prefer to live?

Was Fukushima really the cause?

Japan announced for the first time that a worker at the Fukushima nuclear power plant died after suffering radiation exposure. What actually happened is the government decided last week that the worker’s family should be paid compensation and this was misunderstood to be a cause and effect situation.

A leading British radiation scientist says the Japanese government’s decision to pay workers compensation to the family of a Fukushima nuclear plant worker who died of lung cancer is unsupported by the best available science.

“There is a vanishingly small chance that this man’s lung cancer was as a result of the radiation he was exposed to,” said Dr. Geraldine Thomas, Professor in the Department of Molecular Pathology at Imperial College, London.

The man, who was in his 50s, died from lung cancer that was diagnosed in 2016. There is no evidence it happened because of Fukushima. Instead, it appears the compensation was awarded just because he was a career nuclear worker. Who worked at Fukushima a couple of times. Who got cancer.

First, lung cancer is not the type of cancer caused by nuclear accidents, and certainly not this soon after exposure or because of such doses. It took decades for lung cancer to appear in the atomic bomb survivors, and those were at much higher doses than this worker received.

Second, the radiation workers in Japan, including Fukushima, as with all radworkers around the world, do not have any more cancers than the general population. The people around Fukushima do not have any more cancers than the general population and never will. They never got enough of a dose.

Like all human populations, cancer occurs in about 20%-30% of all people, depending on where you live. In Japan, it’s 20%. So Fukushima nuclear workers, Tokyo sushi chefs, and automotive workers in Toyota City, all have the same cancer rates, which means that 20% of these people will get cancer. And lung cancer is the fourth most common type in Japan, behind breast, colorectal and stomach, so it is not noteworthy that this man died of lung cancer in his 50s.

Martin Kral
Roswell

Record for storing, shipping nuclear fuel is perfect:

The following essay was printed in the Las Cruces Sun News on 8/10/2018. This is a reprint of that article:

https://www.lcsun-news.com/story/opinion/columnists/2018/08/10/record-storing-shipping-nuclear-fuel-perfect/963320002/

Essay by Michael L. Hays:

A proposal to transport commercial spent fuel from nuclear power plants in other states and store it in a new waste repository in southeastern New Mexico has opposition from progressives, environmentalists and anti-nuclear groups. They are exploiting the public’s fear of radioactivity. Yet the public has little to fear. The record is perfect: since 1957, no injury, disease or death to the public, or damage to the environment from transporting and storing commercial spent fuel. My views reflect my consulting on NRC’s reviews of DOE’s plan for a major waste repository and NRC’s policy statement on safety goals.

The public has feared commercial nuclear power because of four undeniable facts. One, nuclear energy can cause enormous devastation, symbolized after its first use in atomic bombs. Two, nuclear energy for any purpose is an esoteric force understood and developed by a small number of specialists. Three, exposure to radioactivity can endanger health and life, directly or, in contaminated water, soils, or food, indirectly. Four, radioactivity can be neither naturally detected nor easily defended against.

The irrelevance of these facts about fears confronts the reality of the safety, health and environmental record of transporting and storing commercial nuclear wastes of all kinds for well over half a century. That record is unblemished: radioactivity from transported or stored spent fuel has neither harmed, sickened or killed one member of the public, nor closed off any waters or lands along tracks or roads, or off-site from repositories. Opponents of this proposal do not deny this record; indeed, they say nothing about it.

The reasons for this record should be reassuring. Scientists, engineers, managers and public officials have addressed these risks and abated them for decades. Concerns about transporting and storing spent fuel have prompted studies of the risks of accidents, releases, or terrorist attacks on rail or road shipments or at surface or subsurface repositories to ensure that they are not realized in actual effects. In turn, these studies have prompted research, policies, regulations and programs to protect the public from hazards and the environment from harm. Having done a good job for six decades, these professionals are likely to do a better job in the future, over even longer periods.

Opponents of the proposal object for other reasons: location, risks from surface transportation, likely long-term instead of “temporary” use, repository design and vulnerability to terrorist threat.

The objection to location is perverse. The proposed site is in a relatively remote, sparsely populated area — no threat to anything. Conversely, plant-site storage facilities of different kinds are widely distributed, nearer population centers and relatively riskier because they are older, more prone to leaks, less secure against natural disasters and more vulnerable to terrorist attack.

Transportation risks are negligible. Trains and trucks containing all kinds of radioactive wastes have traveled along tracks and over roads, near large cities and through small towns, for decades. Despite occasional derailments or accidents, they have caused no radiation-related injuries, diseases or deaths, or environmental harm. There has been no terrorist attack on any of these vehicles.

Storage risks are negligible. Whether the repository is “temporary” or not, initial storage requirements will satisfy all safety, health and the environment standards. Updated requirements will lower or prevent risks and provide for remediation.

A terrorist attack is unlikely to occur, much less succeed in damaging the repository, disrupting its operations or destroying or dispersing its contents. Its 30-foot cap is adequate to protect the repository and contain radiation.

The public should ask about prompt and full disclosure of risk-related matters, and the availability of sufficient resources and the commitment to use them immediately if need be. Politicians pretending to have “serious questions” should ask them. But fear the repository: why?

Michael L. Hays was an independent consultant mainly in defense, energy, and the environment. His consulting involved nuclear power and weapons.

Roswell should stay neutral on Holtec Project

The political environment over the Holtec Project is starting to get interesting. Roswell’s only concern should be over the rail service from Clovis to Carlsbad which comes through downtown Roswell. Here is the letter that I wrote for the local paper.

I attended a General Services Committee meeting on 8/22/18 where there was suppose to be a resolution proposal to publicly announce that the City Council of Roswell, NM was against the Holtec Project in our neighboring Lea County. The reason for this suspended proposal was that Albuquerque City Council recently passed a negative resolution for the Holtec Project. Although it was not mentioned, the City of Las Cruces also passed a negative resolution by their city councilors. Neither city is near the Holtec site nor anywhere near the railroad tracks that are being proposed to ship the nuclear fuel and those resolutions are basically meaningless.

I think it would be very foolish of the Roswell City Council to vote for a public resolution for or against the Holtec Project. At present, it appears the ‘unit trains’ will carry the nuclear fuel through downtown Roswell. A public resolution by the city council will negate any possible leverage the city will have to negotiate for some form of benefit to the city for allowing the trains to pass. Without the power to negotiate, the city might as well throw in the towel and be forced to accept the consequences.

Back in the 1990’s both Roswell and Santa Fe negotiated very expensive relief routes around their respective cities with the Roswell relief route costing WIPP/DOE $20,000,000 and the Santa Fe relief route another $40,000,000 to build. Neither city had to pay a single dime for really nice roadways. For the last 18 years those two roadways have carried more than 12,000 shipments of nuclear waste without incident. Most of those shipments were by night and a few of the early morning bike riders were witness to some of the trucks.

Again, I would discourage the Roswell City Council from taking any action that will be regretted within two year as the Holtec project moves forward with or without that resolution. Hold on to the power of leverage and maybe the City of Roswell will see some direct benefits from the Holtec Project.

Martin Kral
Roswell Resident

Reference information about the ‘unit train’:

https://phys.org/news/2018-03-road-rail-boat-sandia-triathlon.html

Wind and solar farms are only interim solutions:

This is a continuation of my Gubernatorial series.

We have two candidates for Governor, one is full of wind and the other is full of gas. The problem with term limits for Governor (or President) is that the long term national policy for any issue changes very 4 years. The last 8 years, O&G was the energy focus in New Mexico. The next 8 year may see wind and solar as the energy focus for New Mexico. Michelle Lujan-Grisham wants to increase the capacity of wind and solar to 50% of New Mexico’s electricity needs by 2030 and 80% by 2050. Why? To prevent climate change? Renewables are not making a dent on carbon emissions.

But what we can do is stop polluting the planet now and into the future. The only practical method of greatly reducing CO2 emissions from electricity production is replacing fossil fuel with nuclear fuel. Prominent believers in a future global warming catastrophe are supporting nuclear electricity, including James Hansen, Michael Shellenberger, and Stewart Brand. All these popular environmentalist were anti-nuclear at one time in their past. What is needed is more political support.

Wind and Solar farms are only an interim solution to having clean renewable electricity generation. With their intermittent capacity they are required to have backup energy generation and currently that is natural gas, which is not a clean fuel. The only other solution would be to have battery backup which is not available today and won’t be for another 10 years. Development of efficient batteries is possible, but at great expense. For me, wind and solar will be useless in 20 years and will become our next ‘waste’ issue to cleanup.

Advanced nuclear power plants will solve many current electricity generating issues with stored fossil fuels and captured energy. A thousand kilowatt per hour nuclear plant can displace 10 million solar panels or 1800 wind turbines. Stored nuclear fuel is also a million times more energy dense than any fossil fuel (Ref: American Nuclear Society). Advance nuclear will not be our ‘waste’ problem in the future.

Martin Kral
Roswell Resident