WilliamK writes: "NO, instead they chose to make it unavailable in the most effective form, not to anybody, not ever."
Thanks ... a very powerful statement about how many of us feel about anti-nuke folks blocking clean, safe, green house gas friendly nuke power options.
They are certainly free to move away from what everyone else wants. This driving up the costs with litigation, and fear mongering, is just taking other peoples freedoms away. And in millions of cases, poisoning and killing them with fossil fuel polutants.
Pebble Bed Reactors (PBR) with passive safety, and multilayer containment have significant promise to avoid the past failures seen with other designs. No explosive venting of steam. Minimal radioactive materials.
It seems that a lot of people who are somehow involved with rulemaking have decided that the rest of us are just plain to stupid to understand the trade-offs involved with everyday life. Tha fact is that I understand the risks and I make my choices and I really DO NOT CARE AT ALL what you think or want relative to running my life. One good example is , if I recall the name correctly, the pain medication Celebrex. In it's originally relaeased form it was a great medication for relieving the pain from severe arthritis, which, until you experience it, is difficult to imagine. It is a very cruel type of pain that interferes with everything one would do. The problem is that with the very effective pain medication there was also a quite small chance of dropping dead from a heart attack. So, some of the idiots decided that we could not be allowed to have such a medication, all without asking any of those who used it:"would you accept the risk of dropping dead in exchange for living a pain free life?" NO, instead they chose to make it unavailable in the most effective form, not to anybody, not ever. So now there is one less means available to prevent that creul pain affliction. Nobody considered that a whole lot of folks would consider that an entirely acceptable risk. Not everybody is chained to those same fears. Some risks are entirely acceptable to some of us.
How safe is safe enough? That depends partly on one's ambient fear level and a whole lot on one's ability, and willingness, to take personal responsibility for one's own safety. Believing that your safety is exclusively the responsibility of others is stupid beyond words, and at the same time a condition of the basest slavery to "others". Likewise, an existance bound in fear because others say things are not safe enough is a horrible tragedy indeed. The pitiful fact is that we see examples of this every day, manifested in the concept that others, (usually the government), must pass laws and curtail freedoms in the name of protecting us from yet another unsafe something.
None of us will live forever, at least not in our current form, so we need to realize that given a limited lifespan we are much better off if we are not enslaved by the fears of those incpable or unwilling to know what to do. Those who are the safest are the slaves who only do exactly what they are told to do. But we need to understand that those slaves are not free, even as they are safe. Freedom does include the right to take a few risks, and also the duty to understand what we are doing. That points at the fact that ignorance and stupidity are the more common forms of slavery, relating to the assertoion that "knowing the truth will make you free". (somebody else said that first).
Until fairly recently there were no alternatives to fossile fuels. NONE AT ALL! Really, think about that and don't go dragging out the ramblings of a writer devoid of accurate information. It has not been that long ago that hydroelectric power was developed. Prior to that water powwer turned only the local manufacturing systems, primarily mills. So don't bash all of humanity for burning candles to push back the dark, OK? Fossile fuels have been around for a long time because there was no other alternative, except maybe to sit in a cave and eat rocks. Rocks are OK, but not for eating, except on rare occasions.
One of the better citations in that book, is that of deceased president John F. Kennedy:
". . . The number of children and grandchildren
with cancer in their bones, with leukemia in their
blood, or with poison in their lungs might seem
statistically small to some, in comparison with natural
health hazards, but this is not a natural health
hazard—and it is not a statistical issue. The loss of
even one human life or the malformation of even
one baby—who may be born long after we are
gone—should be of concern to us all. Our children
and grandchildren are not merely statistics toward
which we can be indifferent. "
[U.S. President John F. Kennedy speaking about the necessity to stop atmospheric nuclear tests said in June 1963]
Too bad he was assasinated.
So I have to ask, why is it acceptable to poison, injure, and kill millions with fossil fuels, to save a few in relatively rare Nuke accidents, that with time and energy we can fix the flaws and retrofit poor designs to make safer than killing and posioning millions every year with fossi fuels.
Are not the baby's sick and dieing from polutions just as important? are not the kids dieing and sick from polution just as important? are not the adults sick and dieing from polution just as important?
We have a choice ... protect the many ...to protect everyone by working hard to make nuke power plants clean and safe.
This living in fear of an accident, while accepting millions dieing from fossil fuels is just plan WRONG. WRONG WRONG WRONG.
We can build safe nuke plants ... and stop fossil fuels from killing the many with cancers and poisons.
Why are radiation cancers so feared ... while anti-nuke protestors accept millions of chemical cancers?
And then we make choices to use fossil fuels over Nukes, which have orders of magnitude more deaths and injuries. Instead high use of coal, gas, and oil fossil fuels produce high levels of polutants that cause measured increases in SIDS, killing kids, babies, and harm/kill adults too.
A few more billions of dollars to improve Nuke safety, do safety retrofits, and triple the number of nuke power plants would save several times that in real costs, real lives lost.
Dear Chuck, I am reading your article "How safe is safe enough" still shocked at the horrific LPG Truck accident yesterday near Mexico City. It is easy to comment on a disaster when one is far away, seated comfortably and enjoying a cup of cofee... but it much harder when it happens much closer or at a place your are familiar with. This was my case yesterday's morning, when I was taking my wife and my 3 year old son to his school as we were listening to the news on our car's radio, as the reporter gave the news about a grave highway accident involving a large double trailer LPG tanker truck. I was concerned, but had to keep driving to work and just remembered the tragedy a couple of times during the workday. By night, as the death count was still rising, I turned-on the TV and watched the news, soon I was shocked, not specially by what I saw, but what I heard.
As of today, the deaths are believed to be around 30 people, complete families were burned alive when they were peacefully sleeping in their beds. One of the TV News show had the incredible lack of respect of showing a video whose audio let us clearly hear the voices of small child not visible because they were completely surrounded by the huge fire, crying outloud asking for help and then silence!... I could hardly sleep last night from the impression.
As an engineer designing petroleum installations like Offshore platforms for more than 30 years, I have always looked for safety in design, above anything else. Trying to "save" money or "reduce cost" is the last thing I want to consider, and many times my personal philosophy has confronted me with my bosses, companions and clients alike, but every time an accident gets in the news, I feel my position towards design and safety is correct and valid. And please do me a favor: DON'T start taling "Risk Analysis" or Statistics, please.
On the daily transportation of hazardous substances by trucks, I have many questions, related to design aspects or "certification", permits and similar ones.
Why are heavy articulated trailer type trucks allowed at all? Considering many purely engineering aspects, those would be entirely banned. Lets see: on modern (well, not so modern) cars, we have hydraulically actuated assisted DISC brakes, and lately, all kinds of "enhancements", like ABS, ESC, EBD etc. etc. BUT on most trucks, brakes are still drum type. Drum type brakes are often quoted as "not as efficient" as disc brakes, emphasizing their limitations as related to overheating effects, but very often, the worst behaviour of a drum type brake is the tendency to lock heavily as it is practically impossible to keep the drum truly circular, which coupled to the shortcommings of the brake lining shoes to be completely free to retract as needed to modulate the braking, produces the frequent brake locking with the catastrophic result of lateral skidding. Now, with articulated trucks, any sudden braking often produces a condition called "Trailer swing" or "Jackknifing". Some truck braking system designs go further (aggravating), and build a degree of mechanical leveraging into the mechanism that pushes the shoes (Bendix called it "Servo" or "Auto-energizing") which multiplies the tendency to lock completely as the shoes get wedged and press even harder. The final result is that the truck driver cannot humanly control the skidding once it starts.
Saddly, authorities and the heavy interests of the transport industry not only allow the use of articulated trucks, but actually promote them as they are more fuel efficient, making "green-loving-people" happy in spite of the accidents.
How many more frightening accident videos on You-Tube or "Destroyed in Seconds" do they need to watch to start thinking and order companies to redesign and limit the size, weight and number of trailer tanks in order to reduce this type of road hazards?
On the accident of the Deepwater Horizon, you can easily trace the factors that caused the disaster to several DESIGN shortcommings. The first large explosion of the several produced during the event, was caused by the Diesel engined generators overspeeding and becoming ungovernable as those aspirated natural gas leaking from the well. It IS a known occurence, but I've seen and continue to see platform designs that completely ignore the installation of means to prevent and supress that kind of engine runaway. And I have not read anything about this in the multiple reports and documents written by anyone on that accident. You can also trace other contributing causes to the shameful failure of the "safety" mechanisms called "Blow Out Preventers" or "BOP's", that were ineffective by design flaws, but no US Governmental agencies has had the guts to penalize the manufacturer at all. Amclaussen.
I see a corollary from the other side of risk. I am a long time bicyclist and motorcyclist but I also drive a van. Drivers are far more likely to pull out in front of you when your vehicle presents little risk to them. The typical claim is they "did not see the bike".
I used to commute by bike and I did an experiment. One gets pretty good at spotting the cars that are likely to pull out (you can be going 30 mph in a 30 zone and they will ignore your right of way) and I started pointing, arm extended, toward the encroaching vehicle. Essentially comunicating "I see you". They ALWAYS stopped. They ALWAYS saw me. Every single time. Drivers rarely hit bikes and motorcycles because they didn't see them. The bikes just don't threaten their lives so they do what they think they can get away with.
They were simply willing to risk my life for their convenience. It was actually rather funny to see them hit the brakes, slam the suspension to the bump stops and turn their heads and pretend nothing was going on.
On vehicle size choice-I don't think people buy big so they can drive irresponsibly-I think they buy big to feel safer, and driving poorly is a by-product of feeling safer rather than the goal of the purchase.
We can apply these principles to excessive govt programs also-when people feel more secure/comfortable not working more of them will chose that route. Shocker.
Charles, thanks for making us to realize how safe is the safest thing. The question is how you should be safer in present situation and for tomorrow. I don't think there should be any limit for that. The best example is Titanic ship, which deployed all the most modern safer things; but we know what happens in its first journey.
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