?Politics of nuclear power?

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Gary North outlines a scenario where organized anti-nuclear power forces create a political climate that forces the nuclear plants to be shutdown by the NRC. GN postulates growing Y2K concern through 7/99 that culminates in political leverage by the anti-nuke crowd. Although this is one of GN's less radical scenarios (and it does have a certain logic), I think this is unlikely. In the Northeast US, probably 30-40% of total electric generation capacity is nuclear. I doubt the grids could withstand a "voluntary" reduction on this order. I will make a prediction that the nuclear plants are all running come 12/31/99 simply because there is no choice. The spin docs will be at tornado velocity by June 99 to convince the public that all is well. Remember, we (on this list and those like it) represent maybe one in a thousand Americans. Even if our numbers swell by a hundred fold, we will still be a small minority of the population. Are the nukes "safe"? They are probably relatively more Y2K compliant than the coal/gas fired plants. But, thats like saying a hand grenade is less dangerous than an artillery shell. I wouldn't particularly want to be standing next to either during detonation.

Happy Thanksgiving! Love that pumpkin pie!!

-- R. D..Herring (drherr@erols.com), November 26, 1998


< I will make a prediction that the nuclear plants are all running come 12/31/99 simply because there is no choice.>


There is a choice. I myself would prefer to be alive with no electricity than dying due to a meltdown.

I will concede that if there is martial law then they probably will keep them up with no concern for the safety of the populace. If there is a melt down, I heard from a friend in the service that they will lock down the area surrounding the disaster. It is too costly to evacuate everyone.

Best regards,


-- Anna McKay Ginn (annaginn@aol.com), November 26, 1998.

You raise an very interesting point.

Living very close to one of these facilities for the past 10 years, I now find renewed reason to be concerned. It's not that I've ever been overly worried about meltdown - obviously I wouldn't live where I do if I was.

We had considered two scenarios most likely over the next two years. One: Continued operation (or only repeated brief outages). Two: Safe shutdown.

What we hadn't considered was continued operation without the full set of safeguards and regulations that currently exist. If I didn't live in 'zone 1' I might be very tempted to say "Sure, if it will keep the grid up, throw away all the safeguards and regulations." But my proximity to this facility makes me more than a bit nervous when we act as if all those safeguards and regulations are not really needed.

As I stand on my porch and listen to the the plant's (outside) public address system, I wonder what my choice would be (if it were mine to make)? Yes, I know most of you would say "keep it running at any cost" but then again, you don't live here. I do. And I'll be prepared to do without electricity for a while if that's what is needed. But will you? And if you aren't, why should my family be put in jepordy with 'less than safe' operations at this facility?

One of the things I'm thankful for this Thanksgiving is all those rules and regulations that ensure the safe operation of that facility. They help to give me the confidence to live where I do without a large amount of worry.


-- Arnie Rimmer (Arnie_Rimmer@usa.net), November 26, 1998.

Arnie, You might want to call your nuke neighbor and ask the plant safety supervisor a couple questions. I would want to know the status of their RDMS (radiation data monitoring system) and how much onsite alternative core cooling capability they have. I'm curious to find out how many PDP-11 systems are in the nuclear industry. The New Hampshire report perked up my ears because the PDP-11 operating systems are not only non-compliant, short of re-writing the OS, I don't believe they can be made compliant. As for cooling capability, they should have some large diesel gens onsite to keep the cooling pumps going. I have no idea how much fuel (and thus gen time) they keep onsite. I hope its at least two weeks.By the way, I am NOT ANTI-NUKE. As a society, we totally mishandled what to do with nuclear waste products. It can be done in an environmentally sound way (glassification). The coal plants are far more destructive to the environment. Coal mining is a very dangerous occupation (my dad was a miner). You are safer next to a nuke plant than being across the street from a WAWA that gets robbed at gunpoint every 6 weeks.

However, I think we will hear the words "waiver" and "alternative safety measures" around April/May.

-- R. D..Herring (drherr@erols.com), November 26, 1998.

Anna, I'm with you ... "I myself would prefer to be alive with no electricity than dying due to a meltdown."

If the population was prepared and all knew the actual reasons for camping for awhile, I suspect they'd vote for it too. Intersperse calm calls to preparation with visuals of Chernobyl (sp) and they'll soon "get" what we want to avoid.

-- Diane J. Squire (sacredspaces@yahoo.com), November 27, 1998.

Personally, I think the spin docs are in overtime already.

When discussions about nuke safety come up it is whether "they", meaning politicians, NRC officials, owners will allow the non-y2k compliant nukes to stay up or take them down.

What about they people who run the nukes. People like Homer Simpson. ;-> Can trained, intelligent people be forced to stay in an unsafe nuke plant?

-- Mitchell Barnes (spanda@inreach.com), November 27, 1998.

Diane, Your comments give credence to GN's scenario. But please remember these facts. The US nuclear plants do not resemble Chernobyl in basic design or safety measures. The US insists on complete containment. Everyone mentions TMI as a failure but they are wrong. The core DID melt and the containment vessel/building did its job. IMHO, we need every single hour/day to get as much remediation done as possible. Cripple the grids in July and panic WILL start. Programmers WILL flee from urban areas and TEOTWAWKI WILL happen. We need those six months even if there is some danger. I know this is hard for those close the plants (by the way I live 10 miles away from Limerick nuke). But I side with Cory H on this one. Even if you believe your company will fail, keep cranking code. Just maybe the rebuild on the other side will be possible because you got that extra 10% done before the crash. I would favor some government payment to those in zone 1 for relocating (temporarily) if necessary. So please, all you anti-nuke types, temper your fervor or you truly might push us into a Mad Max.

-- R. D..Herring (drherr@erols.com), November 27, 1998.

R.D. Absolutely "we need every single hour/day to get as much remediation done as possible." May need to even organize a nation- wide Y2K encourage the programmers cookie bake-a-thon!

Simultaneously, we also need to get a whole country, and a globe ready for what is unknown and decidedly "can't all be fixed in time." In that I trust we can avoid TEOTWAWKI scenarios. I sure hope so. And the media can help with that, IF we can focus them.


-- Diane J. Squire (sacredspaces@yahoo.com), November 27, 1998.

Diane, Fine idea. me definitely a "cookie monster"!! Any donations of chocolate chip or peanut butter blossoms (with Hershey kiss on top) will be welcome.

-- R. D..Herring (drherr@erols.com), November 27, 1998.


You live a little closer to Limerick than i do to Perry, and I share your concern, having been a participant in a couple of drills. I have the feeling that the nukes in th eUS will be running even though the vocal anti-thought anti-nuke crowd will be screaming. Myy contact with the industry is a tad bit out of date but i really do feel that the plants are probably the closest thing we have to a compliant industry in this country today. Robert Cook may be able to change my feelings into hard data, as I, like all of us don't trust somebody's "feelings". If I remember correctly, the interior controls (the ones that matter) are primarily analog and therefor Y2 compliant, etc.........




-- Chuck, night driver (Rienzoo@en.com), November 27, 1998.

Hi Anna,


You've mentioned this worry before, about nukes in general, also about nuclear explosions from terroists. Why? I've lived inside 'em, around 'em, worked on 'em, studied 'em, tested 'em, and designed 'em and worked in 'em, but don't have the that same level of distrust (worry ?, fear? dread?) you evidently hold?

My brother works in one as senior shift operator, my dad's built 'em (concrete and rebar and civil side.)

Based on my experience, the plants most likely to be able operate safely post-2000 will be the nuclear ones - to the point of getting power to the grid. [After that - keeping the grid running - power will likely be very random regardless of the source.]

I don't understand you fear of meltdown - which magnified by the other millions of people out there - tells me there is something I don't understand about your fears. So talk to me. Explain yourself better, please, so I can understand your attitude better..

-- Robert A. Cook, P.E. (Kennesaw, GA) (cook.r@csaatl.com), November 27, 1998.

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