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energy accidents - not what you might expect

 
gardener & author
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There is a fascinating chart on this page:

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Energy_accidents

It details the mortality rate from different methods of energy generation. I was quite surprised to see that nuclear power has the lowest mortality rate.
 
greenhorn
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Big Oil fires and mine collapses kill people right when the event happens. The nuclear stuff has a very long residual effect and because it spreads through air and water, it may be killing us all just a little bit. Things like that big event in Japan kill a few people on the scene, but they may reduce the lifespan of many people eating from the nearby ocean.

I wonder how many people have been killed when their horse, oxen or water buffalo made a wrong move. Those animals are used for their energy. Then there's all the guys who kill themselves while cutting firewood.
 
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Dale Hodgins wrote:Big Oil fires and mine collapses kill people right when the event happens. The nuclear stuff has a very long residual effect and because it spreads through air and water, it may be killing us all just a little bit. Things like that big event in Japan kill a few people on the scene, but they may reduce the lifespan of many people eating from the nearby ocean.

I wonder how many people have been killed when their horse, oxen or water buffalo made a wrong move. Those animals are used for their energy. Then there's all the guys who kill themselves while cutting firewood.



But... all those 'immediate death' fatalities are a crucial part of breeding for agile, wary workers!

Death by rads recklessly released half a world away are much less selective and thus not very useful for the program.
 
Dale Hodgins
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I see most workplace incidents as manifestations of personal failings. Some guys can walk on a roof all of their life and never fall off and some will get hurt during their first week.

I would expect the highest rate of injury and death to be amongst the tinkerers who don't actually produce a very large percentage of the energy. There's the firewood guys and then there's people setting up their own natural gas system and windmills. Lots of opportunities for mishaps. Then there's the things that happened during the use of that energy, be it house fires, explosions or electrocution. Shit happens, and it happens more often to people who take action. A trip down YouTube Lane, can sometimes help identify next week's victim.
 
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They try to tell us that nuclear is the safest form of energy with the least accidents...  I call bullshit !   How about long term collateral damage ?   Three mile island made thousands sick and die , Chernobyl is still dead and causing all sorts of havoc with livestock and people. And still is melting down ... they just covered it in concrete?  Life of concrete 200 years, life of radioactivity ? lets say 2000 years !!! Hmm
Now lets go to the most recent "incident" in Japan , Fukashima.  I find it amazing that the entire world is not trying to do something other than continuing to pump seawater into a screaming hot radioactive disaster AND THEN PUMP IT BACK INTO OUR OCEAN??? How stupid are we as humans ?     KILL THE OCEAN >>>IT KILL ALL HUMANS ?
As Dale states workplace accidents happen all the time and probably have the highest rate of injury.   I'll take my chances falling firewood or reroofing a house rather than watch thousands die of radiation sickness or starvation.
If I fall off a roof, it will probably be my fault. I could die or end up in a wheelchair or simply hurting for the next 6 months.    If they kill our oceans and poison our air all for that almighty dollar , we all die a slow painfull death .   But oh boy we sure had safe power untill then ! WHO HOO

 
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Thomas,

I wanted to shed a little light specific to the Three Mile Island accident.  The radiation release from TMI was extremely small.  No-one actually died from from the TMI accident itself (though according to some sources there were some deaths due to people evacuating).  The TMI accident was mostly a crises due to high-level media involvement (the President went there to assist--he was a nuclear engineer by training) and the release of the movie "The China Syndrome" just a few days before.

Please understand, I am not trying to be argumentative, but the history of energy is an area of specialty for me (I have a masters in history and am doing some post-graduate work involving the history of energy, especially nuclear energy).  Nuclear energy is one of the most feared and misunderstood forms of energy ever devised.  But specific to TMI, it was really a vastly more minor issue than reported (and remembered at the time, especially by local residents).  It does highlight some of the limitations of the specific form on nuclear energy that we use today which is mostly based on pressurized water as a coolant.  Essentially, no major technological advances have been made in the generation of nuclear power since the advent of the pressurized water reactor that had its roots in the 50s and was instigated by the US Navy which was looking for a good way to power submarines free from the need to surface periodically.  Pressurized water did/has worked well for the Navy, especially for submarine propulsion.  This technology was the fore runner for commercial nuclear power plants.  

I am not trying to revisit an older thread regarding nuclear energy which started out with many differing ideas/opinions yet was composed of highly civil discourse before things got ugly, but the nuclear industry is extremely regulated and has an excellent track record.  Coal has a vastly worse track record and also kills people slowly (think asthma and COPD, etc.).  Oil is similar.  Even renewables are not perfect.  The history of energy and its impacts is a highly intertwined, convoluted topic and it is very difficult to disentangle all the different interrelated factors.  But nuclear has had an enviable track record for safety.  Using pressurized water for a coolant is a problem for me.  There are other forms of nuclear that do not rely on pressurized water and I support research on those types of nuclear.  There are even some types of nuclear that are practically green by most any reasonable comparison to virtually any other form of energy.

For the record, I am not uncritical of nuclear energy, but neither am I a nuclearphobe.  I do try to look clear-minded at these types of controversial topics, and as the history of energy is a great interest to me, I have to consider nuclear in the context of historical energy for my own research purposes.  Like virtually every other member of Permies, I long for a day when we use only energy made from a benign source which ideally leaves no visible footprint on the ground.  Given findings of my own research, I can not personally rule out some advanced form of nuclear as being one of those sources.  But it would not be the pressurized nuclear we use today.

Please don't take this offensively.  I am only trying to shed some light on a controversial issue that almost always divides, never unites.  I am writing this solely to illuminate and not to criticize.  The TMI accident was very small in the grand scheme of accidents and by itself, no-one was killed, injured or made ill.  I hope that if you are reading this you understand my intentions.

Eric
 
thomas rubino
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Hi Eric;
Certainly no offence taken for expressing your view. All your points are valid.
Now that it's evening I can say, I guess I was just in a mood to vent this morning. I really don't know why.
The only part of my rant I really should have mentioned is Fukashima. I truly am appalled at that situation and the lack of apparent concern.
 
Eric Hanson
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Thomas,

I certainly know the need to vent.  I am a teacher and I can get that feeling myself (frustration usually coming from administration, not students).  I am glad you did not take this as an attack.  That is not how I intended my response in any way.  Something I love about Permies is the free and open civil discourse, free from personal attacks and vitriol.

Best luck venting for whatever issue you need to vent.

Eric
 
Shawn Klassen-Koop
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Here is another link specifically about nuclear:

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_nuclear_and_radiation_accidents_by_death_toll
 
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One thing interesting about radiation is that a little might be good for you. We are 75 years into an experiment where a whole bunch of people got hit with a large quantity of radiation, and while ground-zero levels of radiation were uniformly bad, there are some interesting results for those who received lower non-lethal doses.
https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6299535/
 
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i was at an event recently where I heard a presentation about the number of worker deaths involved in hydropower. it was surprisingly more than I expected (confirmed in the link above). lots of boots on the ground in earthworks, and in the developing world these boots are paid very little and valued even less. some interesting discussion as a result about how hydro power may not be the clean and perfect solution it has often been touted to be.
 
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Dale Hodgins wrote:I see most workplace incidents as manifestations of personal failings. Some guys can walk on a roof all of their life and never fall off and some will get hurt during their first week.



We do a lot of FELA claims at my work so I can tell ya that companies are really negligent about dangerous conditions. Way more than you'd think.
 
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Tereza Okava wrote:i was at an event recently where I heard a presentation about the number of worker deaths involved in hydropower. it was surprisingly more than I expected (confirmed in the link above). lots of boots on the ground in earthworks, and in the developing world these boots are paid very little and valued even less. some interesting discussion as a result about how hydro power may not be the clean and perfect solution it has often been touted to be.



Without knowing what you were presented, I wouldn't be surprised to find it accurate, or close to.  I live and work in Canada, where hydroelectric power is so ubiquitous that we refer to electricity as 'hydro'.  

I've also worked in the construction industry where there are many, many regulations for safety, many of which are ignored on a regular basis and many of which are actually counter-intuitive.  I've got my 'Working at Heights' certification and can tell you that the ropes that secure workers can often be a safety hazard themselves.  Most construction workers are young bucks and they ignore a lot of the safety measures that I, who's older and seen some stuff, adhere to.  I'd guess that a fair number of deaths from the construction phase are a result of young men feeling invulnerable and not actually attributable to the industry.  

About a year ago, when returning from break, close to a dozen of the guys I worked with, all under 30, most under 23, jumped an open stairwell on the way back to our worksite.  I detoured around and, when asked by one of the guys why and if it was because I was more careful because of being older, I told him I didn't really know.  I've reflected on that question and I think I know the answer now.

First of all, I don't give a crap anymore what anyone thinks of me, so I didn't feel at all pressured to play follow the leader.  I think this is a huge, or 'Uge' component of it.  Secondly, though not second in importance, I've worked in many different industries over the years and I've seen some shit.  I've climbed, then had to climb down and jump clear of an acid tank that started collapsing, I've had to work in unsustainable conditions where 20 minutes of exposure, even with the 'correct' safety equipment, was inadequate, and I've worked in many, many situations where safety was only given a nod and to actually care about your safety was to be less of a man.  Thirdly, and most importantly, I've spent the equivalent of at least a couple of years at least a week away (in good health) from modern medical treatment, usually with my child.  The latter has made me hyper aware, albeit unconsciously, of how to act when death is on the line:



but substitute 'the bush' for 'sicilian".

I think that, when thy dub something 'idiot proof' they've tested it on under-25 males.  I would agree that, in under-developed countries, safety isn't a prime concern, but I have to say that, as long as the construction force is largely made up of under-25 males, there will be deaths.

 
greenhorn
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I also call bulshit on the most damaging, expensive and reckless form of energy conversion.

I had a copy of a document called Complex Cleanup by OTA, or Office of Technological Assesment a us government research facility.

It said in no uncertain terms that the contamination from simple proscessing fuels and explosives has consigned us to a horrible future and that grants of 500 million dollars a year to DOE were inadequate to even begin to track how far and wide nuclear contamination has spread and the rate it is continuing to do so.

Guess what department was shut down shortly after?

Ding ding ding, first prize of a barf bucket that doubles as a container for falling out hair and teeth to whomever answered...... OTA!

Energy required to produce machinery, components and materials to service the nuke industry are off the chart...... before fuel arrives at any generator. This is also resulting in widespread "recycling" of things like totally hot copper, aluminum, stainless and other precious material into household goods all over the globe, india, china, and yes even here in the us as greedy operators are getting the go ahead to "treat" contaminated materials precious to industry.
Like screwdrivers, hammers, furniature parts , decorative items, fasteners and parts in our solar electric, your eating utensiles, baby crib, kids lunchbox, your wedding rings? That ok? It is happening as a constant and only a 1,000,000/th of it gets detected and stopped at customs or recycle facilities.

Water? Really? Yes, lets just rinse our troubles away! The operators, government and regulators say its fine as apple pie. Hook me up!

Its a weapon. Simply a means to the end of all ends. And the amount of actual power produced that is not used to manufacture more "fuel" is used in keeping spent "fuel" stable and used to keep the dang things online proscessing "fuel".

Ota claimed 8% total consumer purchased power from the energy pie attributed to nuclear after embodied energy in the industry.

Is that really worth anything? No. Its the liability of all liabilities.

The whole industry is the doomsday machine from dr strangelove...... a weapon in every major region and large city will keep everyone on task..... making piles of fortunes for people preparing to off world or bunker up anyhow.

Energy in atoms, cool. Absolutely screwed environment and the loss of our genetic stability is totally worth the amusement park like atmosphere we are building to elevate ourselves above the other creatures. Problem is squirrels and soil micro-organisms are a higher form and are in no way responsible for our demise, so lets juts ruin their day too, what happens in vegas stays in vegas right?

No, absolutely not cool. Not even interesting except as a horror story of what not to let goons soothe say if just A-OK to accept.

 
frank li
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If we could only do a "where are they now" tv special on the 50 mile in evey direction rivers of tritium documented by DOE to be leaching out from oak ridge tennessee, or the friendly rinse down at a facility in a famous california wildlife sanctuary that reportedly is killing seals and other precious ocean and shore life or the daily leaks, and contaminated pressure venting direct to the open air and waterways at the plants, or say the fact that transporting waste in imperviously "safe" containers and with procedures we paid billions or trillions to develop.... can be traced everywhere it drives........ by measuring the contamination trail?

What a country! What an industry! What a wonderful world.

Then tell me my pv system is actually the devil in disguise and too expensive to own and operate and will cause my neighbors and future generations misery, almost as much misery as organic food consumption, or taking the teflon/c8 (look it up pfas chems) out of my dress slacks or work jacket would cause them, so we need nuclear and roundup to combat hunger.

Ahhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh!

"It makes me want to run, screaming....... from my BMW."
Un-frozen Caveman Lawyer. Peace.

If thats not enough, it would literally bankrupt the population of our planet for a generation to remediate fukishima in a total fasion, a real cleanup and not the twisted musical chairs game of hot potato being done with superfund cleanup soils and such.

This does not even touch on straight out illegal dumping, onlt the A-OK "regulated" "appropriate" forms of dumping.
 
rancher
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While I don't want to be located downstream or downwind of any nuclear project, from the past or in the future, the anti-nuclear lobby often misses the mark.

If one must resort to whataboutist retorts and exaggerated figures, one's position has already been dismissed.

Yes, the potential for disaster from not only operational PWRs (Pressurised Water Reactors) but components and waste products is unacceptibly high. What we need, in my opinion, is the next iteration of nuclear reactor, and that doesn't get discussed by the anti-nuclear lobby, because that is confusing. Nuclear = bad is much simpler to get across to people not steeped in the technicalities.

So, as mentioned in other energy threads on this site, I can't wait for MSRs (Molten Salt Reactors) to be fully explored. How better to deal with tonnes of "spent" reactor fuel than by running it through a more efficient reactor as fuel, generating energy and decreasing the volume of the waste by a huge margin? By some estimates, we have over a thousand years of current power needs in stores of radioactive waste, and all we need to access it is a type of nuclear reactor that eats it like candy. Enter the MSR.

What is often overlooked on the personal scale is the end-life of those solar panels. If you break one, are you going to have to hazmat yourself and evacuate your house? Because that, for instance, is what some CFL bulb directions essentially indicated, along with directions to not vacuum, as the particles would go airborne, and you'd contaminate the vac. I am not saying that photovoltaic panels are the same in any way as CFLs, but they were also a household product that was supposed to have been safe for household use, and obviously wasn't.

And how many solar panels are required per person to satisfy their lives' energy needs? What are their lifespans? Can they even be recycled? Can the component layers be separated one from the other, or are they inextricably linked? In the event of battery storage, all the same questions need to be asked of each component.

Renewable power is a little different when what's needed to capture it is an electric motor you can rewind by hand, some gearing and bearings, and shaped wooden, or even fibreglass, components. You're not worried, in that event, of a tiny module being crushed underfoot whose mercury would be sufficient to poison that part of the watershed. Even a millpond, whose creation can no doubt be disruptive, causes less potential harm.

What's needed in this space, I think, is rational discussion, not inflammatory, accusatory, imprecise language and dubious fact.

-CK
 
frank li
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Chris Kott wrote:While I don't want to be located downstream or downwind of any nuclear project, from the past or in the future, the anti-nuclear lobby often misses the mark.

If one must resort to whataboutist retorts and exaggerated figures, one's position has already been dismissed.

Yes, the potential for disaster from not only operational PWRs (Pressurised Water Reactors) but components and waste products is unacceptibly high. What we need, in my opinion, is the next iteration of nuclear reactor, and that doesn't get discussed by the anti-nuclear lobby, because that is confusing. Nuclear = bad is much simpler to get across to people not steeped in the technicalities.

So, as mentioned in other energy threads on this site, I can't wait for MSRs (Molten Salt Reactors) to be fully explored. How better to deal with tonnes of "spent" reactor fuel than by running it through a more efficient reactor as fuel, generating energy and decreasing the volume of the waste by a huge margin? By some estimates, we have over a thousand years of current power needs in stores of radioactive waste, and all we need to access it is a type of nuclear reactor that eats it like candy. Enter the MSR.

What is often overlooked on the personal scale is the end-life of those solar panels. If you break one, are you going to have to hazmat yourself and evacuate your house? Because that, for instance, is what some CFL bulb directions essentially indicated, along with directions to not vacuum, as the particles would go airborne, and you'd contaminate the vac. I am not saying that photovoltaic panels are the same in any way as CFLs, but they were also a household product that was supposed to have been safe for household use, and obviously wasn't.

And how many solar panels are required per person to satisfy their lives' energy needs? What are their lifespans? Can they even be recycled? Can the component layers be separated one from the other, or are they inextricably linked? In the event of battery storage, all the same questions need to be asked of each component.

Renewable power is a little different when what's needed to capture it is an electric motor you can rewind by hand, some gearing and bearings, and shaped wooden, or even fibreglass, components. You're not worried, in that event, of a tiny module being crushed underfoot whose mercury would be sufficient to poison that part of the watershed. Even a millpond, whose creation can no doubt be disruptive, causes less potential harm.

What's needed in this space, I think, is rational discussion, not inflammatory, accusatory, imprecise language and dubious fact.

-CK



No different than insinuating that silver and silicon in pv modules is equatable to mercury contamination. Not acceptable means more than any as opposed to a decimal or comma off in an absolutely ginormous figure nor in counting my panels but not the nuclear wase issue.

It is called marginalizing. And is dishonest and quite apart from excited commentary in good will.
 
frank li
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Imagine not having to even come up with ever more elaborate and material resource consuming efforts at technology because it didnt happen in the firs place because we never really needed the first iteration of nuke plant? Of course fantastical as we have already allowed mad scientists to kill this place.


 
Chris Kott
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As you say, the genie is already out of the bottle. Imagine if we could actually have a conversation about how to fix things without people fantasizing about clearing the board and starting from scratch.

And I think, rather, that it was the mad industrialists and their banker friends that did most of the damage.

But hyperbole aside, this place isn't dead. It's been deader before. We can survive this, and use what got us into this to get us out again.

What most certainly won't save us is reactionary neo-ludditism. If you throw your clogs into this machinery, the best that will happen is nothing at all. The worst that will happen is exactly what you fear most.

It is good to have coherent, measured conversations on such important matters, I think.

-CK

 
Chris Kott
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I didn't notice, by the way, any answers to my concerns about the safety and end-life conditions of solar panels. There sure are a lot of those things out there now. I wonder what percentage of those panels is actually recoverable material, and for what uses?

And how does one go about recycling the more resource-intensive batteries and component systems? I mean, I know how a lead-acid system works and is recycled. I don't suppose it's as easy as that to reclaim and recycle lithium battery packs from electric cars or those wall energy storage units.

-CK
 
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