My Thoughts on Technology and Jamaica: Phillip Pauwell's Nuclear Power in a Bathtub - SilkWood meets the China Syndrome

Sunday, March 27, 2011

Phillip Pauwell's Nuclear Power in a Bathtub - SilkWood meets the China Syndrome

Now, I am become Death, the destroyer of worlds

Julius Robert Oppenheimer quote from the Bhagavad Gita

Senator Phillip Paulwell, Opposition Spokesman on ICT and Telecoms issues, has come out swinging in favour or Nuclear Power for Jamaica as stated in the article “Paulwell still batting for Jamaican Nuclear Facility”, published Friday March 18, 2011, Daraine Luton, Senior Staff Reporter, The Jamaica Gleaner.

And as usual, the Seventh Day Adventists in Jamaica and Worldwide, Greenpeace and other religious fanatics and Environmental trolls are letting loose their sermons. Please note I have nothing against these people; I just DISLIKE scaremongering and the comparisons to Chernobyl Reactor No. 4 Disaster near the town of Pripyat, Ukraine on June 2nd 1986.

They are trying to sift what evil the Japanese people have done to deserve their triple whammie of the Earthquake, Tsunami and Nuclear disaster. The people of Japan do not practice Voodoo, so the above groups probably wish to conclude that the people of Japan are cursed [spitting to one side].

Senator Phillip Paulwell, however, is generating as much controversy as the last time he made this suggestion as stated in the article entitled “Paulwell revives debate on Nuclear Energy use”, published Thursday June 25, 2009, The Jamaica Gleaner. In fact, The Jamaica Gleaner is reusing the exact same quotations he made back in 2009 for the 2011 article!

And yet I get criticized for cribbing quotations and quoting my OWN article cribs!

Journalists, with your Dog-Tags displayed so prominently on your Press Pass, when will we bloggers get some respect, bad spelling but grammar otherwise on par?

My rant aside, why has there been so little Public Debate on the use of Nuclear Power, both in the USA and Jamaica? Why all the one-sided Media scaremongering instead? Why is the idea being so easily dismissed without discussion or even a Governmental Committee as with the current issue in Jamaica on Net Metering?

Especially in light of the current Oil Crisis in Libya as noted in my blog article entitled “Japan, Jamaica's OUR and Net Metering - When Disaster Strikes Don't Hold it Against Me”?

The Media for one.

The Americans zeroed in on Japan, only to discover a people worthy of the title First World, as their behavior is beyond exemplary as I had noted in my blog article entitled “Japan, Jamaica's OUR and Net Metering - When Disaster Strikes Don't Hold it Against Me”.

No looting and no fighting, just grim stiff upper lips, blank stares and orderly lines of children and elderly. American Media, looking for sensationalism, got bored with Japan and decided to dig for dirt, which they proffered as news on Television or “Tell Lie”-vision as I like to call them these days.

Images from Japan reminds me of the English in bomb shelters during the Blitz in London, England at the height of World War II when the German Luftwaffe bombed the capital between September 7th 1940 to May 10th 1941.

I will not make the mistake of judging all Americans by the cowardly comments of the Media.

I doubt any of them have ever lived in Japan. Thus the American Media speak out of ignorance. I shall (and have!), like Moses in the Bible, turn aside from this wonder of a quote “Burning Bush that is American Television”, as my deceased SDA girlfriend Audia Granston used to wistfully intone, before switching to watch Keeping up with the Kardashians (TV Series 2007 - ) on Cable TV.

I now get my news strictly via RSS feeds from online newspapers. Journalists at Reuters, Associated Press, BBC News, with CNET News and Yahoo! News. Thanks for the stellar reporting thus far. You all deserve a month’s supply of US$200 Ferrero Rocher gourmet chocolate!

Curious segway underway as you read folks! Senator Phillip Paulwell is correct in making his defense for Nuclear Power in Jamaica. It does have an impeccable safety record, with fewer deaths associated with its production of Electricity as stated by Phil McKenna of New Scientist in the article entitled “Fossil Fuels are far deadlier than Nuclear Power” published 23 March 2011 by Phil McKenna, New Scientist

A quote from Energy Expert Joseph Romm who hails from the Center for American Progress in Washington DC, puts it into perspective: quote: “There is no question. Nothing is worse than fossil fuels for killing people.”

Indeed, it appears that these over-glorified Steam Engines (which by the way, have efficiencies of 80% and higher!) are getting far too much press time, as stated in the article “Japan's Nuclear woes produce a Tsunami of Fears”, published Saturday, March 26, 2011 by Keeble McFarlane, The Jamaica Observer.

This article was based on research conducted by the IEA (International Energy Agency) in 2002, in which they compared the deaths from mining to end product i.e. distribution of Electricity per TWH (TeraWatt Hour) of Electricity produced.

The IEA discovered, much to the chagrin of those environmental campaigners and Seventh Day Adventists et al, that Nuclear Power was not only the most efficient by far, but the safest. Coal was the least safe, estimated to kill at least thirty two thousand (32,000) people per year.

Loved that one? Then get ready to handle this!

According to the above quoted New Scientist article, factor in the 1975 accident in the People Republic of China in which the Banqiao Dam and Shimantan Reservoir Dam relieved themselves upon the people living in its shadow in Zhumadian Prefecture, Henan province.

Apparently those in the American Media involved in the scaremongering against Nuclear Power seemed to have short memories or were born post this catastrophe, which was the worst accident related to the generation of Electricity. One hundred and seventy one thousand (171,000) souls lost along with 18GW of Electrical Power.

The People’s Republic of China would have been better off pursuing a Nuclear Future like Japan, but opted to rebuild the Dam and pursue Coal. Add these deaths from 1975 into the equation and you realize that, ironically, Hydroelectric Power is REALLY the most dangerous.

By comparison, the only people who died in the Chernobyl Disaster near the town of Pripyat, Ukraine on June 2nd 1986, when Reactor No. 4 blew its top were the firefighters involved in cooling the Reactor.

Subsequent deaths attributed to Chernobyl due to radiation exposure such as the perceived increase in Down’s Syndrome and Cancers cannot be conclusively connected to Radiation Exposure. On this basis, the WHO (World Health Organizations) figures for the disaster are admittedly estimates only. Greenpeace inflated figures cannot be independently corroborated.

They may have had cancer a long time ago and were merely using the Chernobyl Disaster to justify a claim from the Russian Government of the time. This as three hundred and thirty six thousand (336,000) people was evacuated from Belarus and Ukraine

A comparison to Chernobyl can be seen from my Geezam blog article entitled “Japan Nuclear Reactor Meltdown is the Asian Tiger Chernobyl”. A follow up article is coming out later on the Geezam blog.

Thus an obvious conclusion is drawn. The fear of Nuclear Power comes down to Politicians who use it as an issue to get into office and a fear of Cancer, deeply ingrained in the psyche of Humans and Jamaicans, who dislike the disease due to how it kills.

Silently and unseen. Hence the fear.

The Media does its worst to perpetuate the rumours about Nuclear Power. A quote from James Hammitt of the Harvard Center for Risk Analysis in Boston puts it all into perspective, quote: “From coal we have a steady progression of deaths year after year that are invisible to us, things like heart attacks, whereas a large-scale Nuclear release is a catastrophic event that we are rightly scared about”.

So back to the “Bathtub” sized 50MW Nuclear Reactor as apparently derided in the article “Paulwell still batting for Jamaican Nuclear Facility”, published Friday March 18, 2011, Daraine Luton, Senior Staff Reporter, The Jamaica Gleaner.

Most likely is a reference to the modern MOX (Mixed Oxide) Based Nuclear Reactors, which uses the Uranium Oxide of Uranium isotopes, mainly Uranium-235 and Uranium-238 mixed with Plutonium.

Because of its already oxidized state and very fine powder, the Uranium cannot burn, a misconception the Media draws for based on the term “MeltDown”. “Sintering” makes more sense. Thus the Nuclear Reactors can operate at higher temperatures than Reactors based on Metal Alloys of Uranium or Plutonium Fuel.

The Reactor Fuel Rods are one (1) cm in diameter, roughly the same diameter as a Burette, for those with a background in chemistry. The more stable Uranium-238 is in a mixture with 2% of the more unstable fissile Uranium-235, thus acting as a natural Moderator or absorber of more energetic High Energy Neutrons ejected during the Nuclear Decay Process.

The Reactor Fuel Rods are made of a steel alloy usually an alloy of Zirconium, which any Jamaican Physics student can inform you are non-corrosive and readily reflect and absorb High Energy and Low Energy Neutrons.

Consequently, the Reactor Fuel Rods have to rolled from Sheet Steel as Reactor Fuel Rods too thick would not allow Stable Nuclear Fission to occur. These Reactor Fuel Rods are then bundled into groups, with spaces in-between for water to flow

Additional Moderator action is provided by the presence of graphite cladding which sheaths each Reactor Fuel Rods, a design requirement resplendent on older Reactor Designs.

Smaller Reactor Fuel Rod diameters with powdered MOX Fuel in the Nuclear Fuel Rods increase the surface area. Due to the poor conductivity of powders, the MOX is usually sintered into hard pellets. These are the same type of pellets used in the Fukushima Dai-ichi Nuclear Power Plant.

Thus heat is transferred to the Water or Gas that is pumped in-between the Reactor Fuel Rods, making the Nuclear Reactor more efficient. That superheated Steam or Gas is used to turn a Turbine which generates Electricity.

Like I said, over-glorified Steam engine!

Because of the long life of Nuclear Fuel, the efficiency designs and the lower level of enriched Uranium-235 in these MOX-based Nuclear Reactors, the Reactor Fuel Rod can last upwards of fifty (50) years. Thus they are the preferred Nuclear Fuel Worldwide of the countries planning on building or installing Nuclear Reactors.

But a little know fact most American and Jamaican Media scare-mongerers are unaware: MOX-based Nuclear Reactors is the result of Nuclear Waste!

That’s right Seventh Day Adventists, Greenpeace and other religious fanatics and Environmental trolls spouting their usual uninformed rhetoric about Nuclear Power Plants. MOX-based Nuclear Reactors help to recycle spent Nuclear Fuel such as Plutonium.

Eventually, when these Nuclear Fuel Rods are spent, they decay or transmutate eventually to stable Lead. We are more likely therefore, to die of Lead Poisoning than cancer. Best of all, lots of use exists for Lead, mainly in Power Storage systems based on Lead-Acid Batteries.

Spent Nuclear Fuel from older reactors is used to Power these MOX-based Nuclear Reactors, as the Plutonium present is the result of Nuclear Transmutation of the Nuclear Fuel of older RMBK Reactors.

First World countries do not tell John Public these things as much as they do not reveal that Enrichment is done using Centrifuges on liquid solutions of isotopes of Uranium Hexachloride, the lighter Uranium-235 being separated by Decanting.

To cheaply Enrich Nuclear Fuel was a “secret” up until 2004. Since then, the Nuclear Genie has been let out of its bottle.

Thus the reason for the secrecy is supplied.

To prevent so–called “Rogue” Arab States e.g. Iran, Libya, from supposedly acquiring Nuclear Technology to make Nuclear Bombs or worse Dirty Bombs. Nuclear Proliferation to our enemies, the US of A declares, with the watchdog IAEA (International Atomic Energy Agency), the UN (United Nations) Cerberus standing guard on behalf of the Developed World.

This of course is hogwash, as you need Enriched Uranium to the level of 80% by mass to make a basic Nuclear Fission Bomb. A sustained, uncontrolled Nuclear Reaction.

Critical Mass for a Nuclear Bomb is approximately 1.6 Kg. Making a Nuclear Bomb is not a simple matter of mixing Nuclear Fuel, as that can result in an uncontrolled Nuclear Fission and a mini-Nuclear explosion.

Specialized PhD level skills are required in handling fissile Nuclear Material – skills which few countries possess.

Nuclear Waste disposal is a side issue created to keep GreenPeace occupied and mask the fact that Spent Nuclear Fuel can be reused as Fuel for MOX-based Nuclear Reactors, which all the Developed or First World countries are planning to build or install.

First World country fears relate to competitiveness: Nuclear Power is what fuels the relative modern comfort of the First World and is possessed by all seven (7) Members of the G7 and China Group.

It is also the reason for the success of the People’s Republic of China and Japan prior to the accident: cheap reliable Electrical Power.

Indeed, the use of Spent Nuclear Fuel has been debated in the past and satirized in many movies, such as The China Syndrome (1979) and SilkWood (1983).

Thus a means is already presented for the disposal of Nuclear Waste as First World countries now powering down older design Reactors that used enriched Uranium and larger Reactor Fuel Rods in exchange for this higher surface area, lower enrichment and longer life Nuclear Reactors based on MOX Fuel.

So back to Senator Philip Paulwell! Due to the fact that the newspaper report refers to a “bathtub”, most likely the mis-quote was Senator Philip Paulwell’s reference to a PWR (Pressurized Water Reactor).

This type of Reactor that uses a Helium Gas to improve conduction between the sintered MOX pellets inside of the one (1) cm diameter Nuclear Fuel Rods, with Light Water or Normal Water (has no Deuterium Hydrogen Nuclei in its Molecular Structure) used to act as a Moderator and extract heat to run the Steam Turbine.

The Reactor Vessel occupies space no larger than a bath-tub due to their efficient design. But most importantly, they are actually affordable by Developing World countries!

A Nuclear Reactor in you backyard? A mini one to power your house or All-Electric Vehicle? Aside from the constant hassling by IAEA and inspector fees, MOX-based Nuclear Reactors are cheaper to maintain than a LNG (Liquid Natural Gas) Plant and can be wholly built by a FDI (Foreign Direct Investor) willing to invest in Jamaica. As soon as Net Metering becomes a reality, of course!

Cruel irony is that the Fukushima Dai-ichi Nuclear Power Plant was a Light Water Reactor, but recently it has been discovered that the Water has become Radioactive over time due to Gamma Ray and Alpha Particle activity within the Reactor Chamber, where the Light Water comes in contact with the Nuclear Fuel Rods.

This as stated in the article “Radiation inside Japan Nuclear plant rises sharply”, published Sunday March 27 2011 By YURI KAGEYAMA and MARI YAMAGUCHI, Associated Press, Yahoo News. Stay tuned.
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