Talk:Nuclear power/Archive 7

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Archive 6 Archive 7 Archive 8

Because of their length, the previous discussions on this page have been archived. If further archiving is needed, see Wikipedia:How to archive a talk page.

Previous discussions:(Please note that the archive page currently contains material relevant to ongoing content discussions, so you may find relevant material there)

Intro needs clean up

The intro has morphed from high quality a few weeks ago to a sub standard intro. Can user Dalf please explain his exact problems with my changes? Most of my changes were reverting back to wording that had been agreed upon previously with consensus, which is why I think a "clean up" is an accurate description. zen master T 01:47, 11 August 2005 (UTC)

Yes, my problems with you changes were several fold:
  • The re-definition of the term Nuclear to mean nuclear fission is both scientifically/linguistically inaccurate as well as rendering the intro (or disambiguation in this case) inaccurate in terms of describing the page. The article clearly addresses the fact that research into (and a desire to develop) fusion technology exists and exists scientifically and politically under the term Nuclear Power.
  • The other edits seems to simply be POV pushing in removing the detail that a driving factor behind the push for Nuclear development is the greenhouse effect, and also rewording to put a stronger emphasis on dangers.
  • The above content and factual changes were done under a edit summary of "cleaning up" which I think defeats the point of even using edit summaries.
Dalf | Talk 01:58, 11 August 2005 (UTC)
It was decided on this talk page previously that the "nuclear power" article would refer to fission specifically because the phrase does not historically mean fusion since fusion was always allegedly highly speculative, which is also why I specifically added back the disambig notice mention of fusion. Perhaps someone should create a Fusion power article so there is a clear adistinction and so any potential future fusion industry has an article of its own so it can be disassociated with the present nuclear power industry? (Update: oh wait Fusion power alrady exists so there already is a clear distinction that nuclear power does not include fusion...) How were the other edits POV pushing downplaying greenhouse effect? the wording and sentence construction in the current into is very poor, the organization has no flow. Why did you put back the seemingly very out of place intro paragraph on insurance? The changes that seemingly were made relatively recently seemingly added unclarity and poor word choices, returning to the more clear version of the past plus other changes is certainly a "clean up". zen master T 02:11, 11 August 2005 (UTC)
I think you will find if you look back at the talk pages that there was no consensus on tis issue only the people who disagreed got frustrated and gave up. Even so, wikipedia is not in the business of including factually false statements just because a few people agree that including them is a good idea. The article you are wanting this to be SHOULD be titled Nuclear power industry, which you are welcome to create and then argue to have this page re-directed there (which I would oppose). I suspect before even nuclear fusion was a reality in terms of commercial power an encyclopedia of the day would have used a scientifically accurate term. If you look at encarta and Britannica they both use the scientifically accurate description of the term. In fact even if you limit the scope of the article to commercial implementations of nuclear power the mention of the fact that the industry is exploring fusions still belongs. If you define the term to exclude fusion then the article in internally contradictory.
As to the wording, I agree that it is sloppy and needs some work how it is. However, you can fix a sentence or a paragraph without changing what it says. I am unopposed to moving the insurance out of the intro, but I think the pollution bit is one of the most significant sentences in the whole introduction. Simply by nature of the fact that if it were not for the perceived benefit—even if its an illusion which I don't think—there would be no push significant enough to ever build another nuclear power plant except in countries seeking weapons. Even if you disagree with it the pollution numbers as none or virtually none, this perception is politically significant and a driving factor in the public/international debate on the issue and belongs in the introduction. Dalf | Talk 02:32, 11 August 2005 (UTC)
Nuclear power plants are built using machines that require fossil fuels so the ammount of greenhouse gases can not be "virtually" none (especially true if the goal is to expand nuclear power ten fold to head off oil depletion). The common defintion of "nuclear power" means fission as that is the technology that has been made to work so far. I am not trying to make this article about the nuclear power industry exclusively, I just think the phrase refers to it additionally. The disambig header notice for fusion should be added back. The seemingly pro industry sentences that describe a "renewed interest" in nuclear power seem to dampen the "The use of nuclear power is controversial because" sentences later on, which is why I reordered those, also seemed better flow wise. I am surprised Ultramarine or Benjami Gatti or others aren't editing the article this evening adding random inconsistent POV... Since you reverted my changes why don't you go ahead and clean up the changes we agree on, if I still have concerns I will voice them here on the talk page afterward, ok? zen master T 02:52, 11 August 2005 (UTC)
As I said debating the accuracy of "virtually none" (which I think is realistic anyway) is not my point, its the involvmen of this part of the debate in newing intrest in the technology. Infact it would not be as contraversial as it is if there was no real possibility of new plants being built. Its not about weakning the statment that its contraversial, which I think is pretty selfevident, the information shoudl be included because it is a central part of any discussion on nuclear power (as much as the dangers are). I disagre about the disambig AND that the common definition means fission. The common USAGE of the term nuclear power means nuclear power plant or nuclear power generation (which are at pressent all fission), however that is a colqual distinction and not a definition. There are a lot of terms which carry a very strong connotation to speakers, where definning those terms as BEING that connotation woudl be factually incorrect (and exactly the sort of thign an encliopedia is ment to correct). The correct thign to do is put a main article Nuclear fusion at the approprate place in the article, it does not not need to be in the disambuation at the top since that would imply that fusion is not mentioned anywehre in teh article (which is also not true). I will give the intro a stab but, I am not especially skilled at elegant wording so well se how it goes. I will leave the mention of the insurance for now since I am not sure exactly wehre it shoudl go but as I said I agree it is probbly a good idea to move it. Dalf | Talk 07:12, 11 August 2005 (UTC)

Gah! ok here is what I did. I tried re-writing the intro so that it provided a basic nutshell summary of the whole article. The problem is (and the reason we all keep fighting over the inro) is that we don't all agree with the content or the presentation of the content in teh rest of the article. So I decided that it would be easier to move ALL of the extra details down out of the intro (so we dont have to fight about which details are most important and belong more prominent in the intro). I Left only the stright up definition of nuclear power and a clarification that in reality we are talking about fission power plants and fusion only being research at this point. The wording in my description of a fission reactor is a bit off. I would like to see it re-written to include that you have a critical mass of fissiel stuff moderated by somethign that absorbs nutrons or you have a sub-critical mass of fissile materal which is made to go critical by a neutron reflector. Below here is the part of the intro that I had started to re-write as well as all the stuff that I had not got to yet but removed form the intro. If everyone wants to go back to a longer more robust intro that is fine revert these changes and we can duke it out some more. Dalf | Talk 07:43, 11 August 2005 (UTC)

(I started to tweak the top part of this when I decided that going for very simple facts might be the best idea for the intro)

Most of the worlds nuclear power plants were built in the first few decades after its first commercial use in the 1950's, after which the technology saw a long period of decline. A number of highprofile accidents such as the 1979 Three Mile Island accident, and the 1986 Chernobyl accident greatly increased public awarness of the risks involved with the technology. As a result very few nuclear power plants have been constructed in recent decades. However there is recently a renewed political interest in nuclear energy ([1] and see Nuclear Power 2010 Program) as a solution to dwindling oil reserves and global warming because electricity demand is increasing and nuclear power generates virtually no greenhouse gases. The use of nuclear power is controversial because of the contentious problem of storing radioactive waste for indefinite periods, the potential for radioactive contamination (possibly severe) by accident or sabotage and the possibility that its use will lead to the proliferation of nuclear weapons. Proponents, including some national governments, aver that these risks are small and can be lessened with new technology. Many environmental groups claim nuclear power is an uneconomic and potentially dangerous energy source and dispute whether the costs and the risks can be reduced through new technology.

Government backed insurance continues to be necessary in the US for the construction of new nuclear power plants and uranium enrichment facilities by private and government organizations (see Price-Anderson Act).

I added back the intro controversy synopsis paragraph, why was it deleted? Also, I think we should add back the fusion diambig header just to avoid confusion if someone actually is looking for fusion inside this article, we should provide this info to the reader as soon as possible, to just rely further down link to Fusion is a mistake. zen master T 14:50, 11 August 2005 (UTC)

I created the "renewed interest" paragraph. accusing me of being pro-industry is almost flattering in context. Despite my notorious disaproval, I think it is clear there exists a renewed vigor in energy circles to consider the nuclear option - for reasons which include decreased emissions - and quite likely include energy independance and technical competition. (Allowing the Chinese to lap us on energy tech might appear to be losing ground globally.) I prefer the technical information which has creeped into the intro in place of irrelevent and inaccurate or redundant statements (Power is Power, Power is Energy, etc ...) As for Zero-Emissions, I suggest we wait until a plant is fully decomissioned before we determine a winner. The environmental impact of Nuclear power is unproven on a full-lifecycle basis. Benjamin Gatti

It's their placement before the historical explanation of controversy that seems out of place and downplays the controversy a bit, there isn't anything wrong with the "renewed interest" sentences POV wise themselves except for poor prose. I remember we had a similiar renewed interest mention in the intro a month or more ago, that might be better. zen master T 22:39, 11 August 2005 (UTC)

No containment building in USSR

My understanding is that the absence of a containment building in USSR reactors was a technical (not economic) strategy... to enable Pu breeding; the fuel rods have to be removed and then processed quickly, and a containment structure would hinder this. In an all-uranium setup, containment makes more sense. If I'm right, should this not be somehow reflected in the initial mention of the Chernobl disaster? Myron 03:01, 12 August 2005 (UTC)

This was true of the RBMKs, but the majority of the Soviet Union's reactors were standard pressurized water reactors (the VVER series, sometimes notated as WWER). The Russians did finally build two plants with containment buildings as demonstration units - because no non-Soviet country would buy a reactor that didn't have a containment.
US weapons production reactors (all now shut down) allegedly had a "confinement structure" as opposed to a containment. Simesa 05:42, 12 August 2005 (UTC)
Given the supreme effort necessary to bring down the Chernobyl reactor (operators had to override several safety warnings, and violate a number of rules) - it strikes me as misleading to blame the problem on design - or containment buildings. Disrespecting the soviets - who have consistently managed to innovate lesser cost alternatives to space and here - to nuclear power seems to a popular piling on. Rather we should be grateful that our plants have the fortune of not being operated by a few rougue actors - perhaps our day will come. But the blame for Chernobyl probably lies mostly on a few operators rather than any design defeciency. I'm not convinced that US plants are any more hardened to malicious or overtly negligent mis-operation. Benjamin Gatti
The Soviets built a power plant that couldn't be built in any Western nation, Japan or Taiwan, and also ignored the basic safety principle of having a containment. Then they let a non-nuclear-qualified engineer take over, something the NRC would never stand for here. The Soviet system was directly responsible for this catastrophe. Simesa 02:50, 15 August 2005 (UTC)
That's true. But as an interesting sidelight, according to the Russian drawings the RBMK did have containment. The top plate was part of it, and the refuelling mechanism was outside the containment structure. Their worst credible accident scenario, if they had one, didn't take account of the possibility that an explosion would lift the top plate. In order to do this, the operators had to not only operate the reactor at a low power level - which was banned in the operating procedures and also prevented by an automatic trip, which the procedures prohibited them from turning off - but they had to do so for several minutes, progressively removing control rods past the limit also specified in the procedures in order to keep the reactor critical at this low power level despite the progressive buildup of Xenon. They really tried hard to blow it up. Mind you, the TMI story makes equally frightening reading, as do the accounts of US naval personel trained prior to the SL-1 accident. Moral: Nothing is foolproof, because fools are so ingenious. Comforting thought, though, that TMI was as bad a management failure as Chernobyl, and killed nobody. The PWR has a lot going for it. Andrewa 18:59, 17 August 2005 (UTC)

Statement about Atoms For peace precluding renewables

I moved this to Criticisms as it is about the history of renewables, not nuclear power. I also trimmed it to match what the reference actually says. Simesa 02:50, 15 August 2005 (UTC)

I didn't see that SEWilco had already rremoved it. Simesa 02:54, 15 August 2005 (UTC)

I only removed the second copy added to the article intro. (SEWilco 03:30, 15 August 2005 (UTC))

And the reference doesn't say that WEC claims it, only that unspecified others do. Simesa 03:07, 15 August 2005 (UTC)

Hope you had fun camping, we just got back from the Beach. Can we not agree that the effect of nuclear power on the world is relevent. While I maintain that drawing comparisons to renewables simply because both may have similar measures (% of world energy supplied, $ of subsidies, $ of energy, reliability, cap cost) is excessive (there ought to be a common table somewhere which does this - that'd be really great - but inserting into one article - where it could be different from the same information in another article is risky at best and probably misguided. - all of which is to say - that this tidbit is an intersecting fact rather than an independant fact. It belongs in the article, and I'm not sure it deserves to be labelled criticism. negative facts are just fact. Do we have a "criticism" section of the third riche? Our job as an encyclopedia is not to characterize points of view, but merely to state them as facts. Benjamin Gatti

Interesting report

[2] Ultramarine 06:50, 15 August 2005 (UTC)

Proliferation Horizon

This section was added. It seems pretty important - and I'd like to be sure its accurate to the best of our knowledge. Benjamin Gatti

One major obstacle for expanded Nuclear energy is the limitation of available Uranium, without which it becomes necessary to build and operate breeder reactors to produce suitable fuel rods from alternative sources including spent fuel. Breeder reactors however, have been banned in the US since President Carter - the only Nuclear engineer to serve as President - prohibited reprocessing because of the unacceptable risk of proliferation of weapon grade materials. Thus, there is but a limited supply of safe nuclear fuel before it becomes necessary to re-introduce the breeder reactor, which will increase the liklyhood to an unacceptable degree that weapons grade materials will be available to terrorists and rogue leaders.
I'm not an expert in the field, but here's my understanding. Uranium 235 is produced normally by refining naturally occuring uranium in an energy intensive process. You can get weapons grade materials without needing a breeder reactor. However, plutonium is made by irradiating uranium 238 in a breeder reactor (and refining the subsequent material). This can be used as a fuel in reactors. But that's not so hard to do (well, ignoring the issue of radiation and criticality). The US's first reactor to produce power, EBR-1 didn't require that much in the way of materials (aside from the uranium), but it needed a knowledgeable staff to build and run the place.
I think a group with the substantial resources that Al Qaeda had in the 90's, could build such a place, though acquiring Russian material was probably far cheaper and didn't require building a bombable target. -- KarlHallowell 18:37, 23 August 2005 (UTC)
The section on "Life cycle" describes uranium processing in detail and contradicts the original claims of the above section. However, the above section has since been rewritten in a way which removes my objections. -- KarlHallowell 23:16, 24 August 2005 (UTC)

Special Thanks

Special thanks to admin Woohookitty for restoring this Talk page and Archive5. Simesa 21:07, 16 August 2005 (UTC)

"The archiving was not done correctly. I went ahead and made the correct archive page for Archive 6. I have no idea where 5 went to. I would suggest posting it on the Administrator's Noticeboard and see if someone can locate 5 for you. When you do a move, be VERY careful of the spelling. A/a and P/p were messed up here. --Woohookitty 20:50, 16 August 2005 (UTC)"


I archived the period June 22 to August 10 in Archive6. I have no idea what happened to the messages from June 14 to June 21 - they weren't in this Talk page today and this is the first archive I've done. Simesa 21:38, 16 August 2005 (UTC)

Removed Text from Health Effect Section

I Suggest that the test "However fossil fuels cause more deaths" or so - is irrelevent. I believe the "no renewables" crowd would object if i used every aspect of nuclear energy to repeat the mantra that wind power is more safe, more clean, and more abundant (over time) as well as less costly than nuclear power. In the interest of fairness, then I think the article should not be used to press the point that while nuclear may be dangerous - fossil fuels are worse. Benjamin Gatti

Actually, renewables are not necessarily better. Hydropower plants have caused numerous deaths. Ultramarine 21:33, 17 August 2005 (UTC)
You've done a good job citing the Coal deaths. 30,000 puts it just behind cigarettes, guns, and cars. Hydropower has been criticized for many things. I'm not sure how the deaths occur - drownings? suck-ins? falls, breaks of small dams? anyway doesn't much matter. My concern is that an article on nuclear power is being used to disrepute all other forms of energy. I think comparison has its place. but it could be done in a more encyclopedic way - for example by creating a Comparison of Energy Alternatives page - linked to each sub page. I feel that inserting negative comments about subject matter other than the title is inappropriate. Benjamin Gatti
Here you can see some of deaths from hydropower [3]. And comparing to other energy sources is not inappropriate, nuclear power is criticized for risks, and npov requires mentioning that competing sources also have risks. Ultramarine 11:00, 18 August 2005 (UTC)
UM, I think that link is VERY important (and honest) and yes - does serve to put perspective on this issue - The problem I have is not with it as content - but rather with organization. May I suggest a page Casualties of energy to house this data, and a referance to that page where it is useful to provide perspective - but I object to pulling out single instances from the table to bolster the perception of nuclear power. And finally let me ask one question and see if i can get a reasoned answer. If nuclear at 31+ has in fact the lowest casualty rate of all the other energy sources - why does it require government subsidies for liability insurance? Benjamin Gatti

Very Low Level Radiation Effects

The effects of radiation at very low doses are unknown - Ionizing radiation contains the statement: "Low levels of ionizing radiation may be beneficial to many types of cells; this phenomenon is termed radiation hormesis". Therefore I will edit the relevant paragraph. Simesa 01:15, 18 August 2005 (UTC)

In this case, I'll have to change it back. The statement in Ionizing radiation is apparently based on the BEIR III Report (BEIR stands for Biological Effects of Ionizing Radiation and is the basis for radiation exposure limits). BEIR VII is now out, and the results are briefly summarized in [4] - in which "LNT" stands for "Linear model, No Threshold" (in short, no hormesis). Simesa 01:47, 18 August 2005 (UTC)
Damn - now I know I'm not needed since the conversation can run weel enough on one wheel. I noticed too that you "moved" the sentence about fossil fuel deaths. Sometimes that's the best place. Cheers. Benjamin Gatti
I can not read the source cited by Simesa, but I can not belive that is enought that one (who is it/are they?) state a thing in a presentation to make it real. Altouth I can belive that there are cases where low level radiation could give beneficial effects to cells, I can not state that the sentece is true in general sense.I can not state the reverse too. I rembmber that in the policy is written that only common accecpt arguments should be stated in Wikipedia. I can not belive this sentece is a well common accept theory. AnyFile 18:07, 23 August 2005 (UTC)
Go into GOOGLE, search on "BEIR Makhijani findings" and pick "View as HTML" - you can read it then. For a pro-nuclear organization's take on BEIR VII, see [5] - they agree with LNT. Simesa 19:44, 23 August 2005 (UTC)

Intro sentence

I restored "increased electrical demand" to the sentence - I saw a chart showing expected growth in the U.S. (can probably find it if desired), and certainly China and India have growth. The PJM Interconnection power grid went to a 5% brownout on July 27, 2005 - they set a record for usage between 4 pm and 5 pm that day. The July 28 Inquirer said "Since 1993 average household use among PECO customers has climbed 21 percent" and explained why (bigger and less efficient houses, more DVDs, PCs, TVs and even two refrigerators). Simesa 20:41, 18 August 2005 (UTC)

In addition, I cited "far less greenhouse gases" - a 1,000 megawatt coal-fired power plant will produce (at 100% capacity) 7,947,000 metric tons of CO2 a year [6]. You could make an argument about water vapor, but not all nuclear power plants use cooling towers, and some use dry ones. Simesa 20:41, 18 August 2005 (UTC)

I removed both before reading this - i should at least have heard you out.
I suggest that "increased electrical demand" is at best a misnomer for "increased electrical consumption." (Since much of the world is demanding energy while they lack the economic means and/or political stability to consume it.)
I'm not sure that is the problem per se. (meaning that all things being equal - the US could deal with internal electrical demand by building clean(er) coal). I think that China's growing economic ability to compete for prime energy is placing pressure on our existing energy scheme (more oil than electricity though).
The motivation for nuclear is clearly the environment cleanliness, and fuel independance and these issues are far larger than the incremental growth - which has more or less existed since electricity was introduced. I'm not saying its not there - but my judgement is that internal market growth is less the driving factor, and so the reader might be better directed to the significant causes of the recent change in policy.
(Can we just say fewer emissions and be done with it - by the time you add up construction, uranium mining and transport energy used in reprocessing decomissioning, and endless storage maintanence, the lifecycle emissions are significant. less true, but pushing the point with an imprecise modifyier (IMO) is uncyclopedic. Benjamin Gatti
I can agree to "increased electrical consumption" and "fewer" emissions. China will see explosive generation growth ([7] slides 6 and 7). Simesa 21:33, 18 August 2005 (UTC)

Other uses

The article as it stands only covers civilian electricity generation. But nuclear power also includes military uses (notably aircraft carriers), medical uses, and applications in space. If they're not specifically to be covered here, they just at least be linked. Rd232 23:51, 18 August 2005 (UTC)

There is an article Nuclear navy but it does not yet discuss nuclear propulsion. Nuclear medicine does not explain how the pharmaceuticals are made - there appears to be room for a section here on medicines. Simesa 01:36, 19 August 2005 (UTC)
Probably a brief mention of medicine-related engineering belongs over in nuclear reactor, as details would seem to belong in nuclear medicine. This article is focused on energy applications. (SEWilco 05:49, 19 August 2005 (UTC))
Are the mediacl uses a by product of nuclear power generation? If not then they do not belong. Propulsion is one we should add. Subs and aircraft carries both. Dalf | Talk 06:28, 19 August 2005 (UTC)
The article has touched on Fusion (with an image of the sun), on Hubbert peak oil theory-guess, on the intermittancy of some renewable energies, and in short stretched to cover everything in sight. Here's one voice saying it ought to have more focus - and I suggest that we try to limit it to the 17% of the world's electricity which is produced by fission reactors - since that is the common meaning of the term, perhaps with links to sister subjects. Unfortunately, these are interlinked - as for example, nuclear power reacctors (as I understand it) do in fact produce medicinal materials (might be the research breeder reactors - it's a small amount - and I thought it was covered.) Benjamin Gatti
Propulsion probably doesn't need much more than reference to nuclear propulsion, or as pointed out there, nuclear marine propulsion. (SEWilco 06:59, 19 August 2005 (UTC))

Well, as long as those topics are mentioned and linked, in some sort of overview of the various uses of nuclear power, that's enough. Maybe the article needs an Overview anyway - the intro doesn't mention all the issues the article covers (and would be too long if it did). An overview could touch on them very briefly. Rd232 21:28, 20 August 2005 (UTC)

I agree with Benjamin Gatti. This article is hard to follow, and just when you've got your mind set one way, it's off down another diversion. I don't think nuclear fusion power generation belongs here either - it should be a diversion link at the top. This is a striking example of how not to write for the web. (Nobody's fault - or everyone's!) Joffan 03:05, 26 August 2005 (UTC)


I asked an admin to block if they blank this article again. Simesa 20:22, 23 August 2005 (UTC)