Lake Superior Nuclear Power Plant

Did you know that Lake Superior was considered for a nuclear power plant site, near Knife River, in the 1960s? It’s scary to think what might have been … but it happened. Check out Jim Heffernan’s blog to learn more.

59 Comments

duluthmtnbiker

about 9 years ago

Nuclear power is the cleanest, safest, cheapest, most efficient form of energy available.  Minnesota has two nuclear facilities that have been running since the early 1970s.

TimK

about 9 years ago

Not efficient if you factor in ALL the costs. Where do you put the spent fuel? It will be dangerously radioactive for 10,000 years. Currently, most facilities store waste on-site and they are running out of room. How "affordable" are those GE reactors in Japan when you add the cost of clean up- that is if they can actually get the meltdown situation under control (and that ain't cheap either). If you took the billions in subsidies that GE and others received from the government and invested that in wind and solar, think of how far we would be today.

duluthmtnbiker

about 9 years ago

If the sun was out and the wind blew 24/7/365 that might be viable option.  America's demand for consistent, cheap, reliable power makes most renewable sources impractical. 

And are you going to tell me there are no governement subsidies for solar and wind?  Currently there is a 30% personal tax credit for Solar Water Heat, Photovoltaics, Wind, Fuel Cells, Geothermal Heat Pumps, Other Solar Electric Technologies. http://www.dsireusa.org/incentives/incentive.cfm?Incentive_Code=US37F


The viable options are coal and nuclear, you pick.

TimK

about 9 years ago

I didn't say there were NO subsidies for solar and wind. I said if we HAD diverted the subsidies that have been spent for nuclear into solar and wind, the technological advancements in those areas would be farther along. Do you really think a poisonous power source is the solution? Sure, nuclear energy is efficient if you don't value human life.

TimK

about 9 years ago

And your claim about nuclear energy being the safest is laughable. Show me all the dead and dying wind and solar installers/operators who have to essentially go on a suicide mission when the solar panel breaks down.

duluthmtnbiker

about 9 years ago

If we really valued human life, then we wouldn't let people fly in airplanes either since according to the Aircraft Crashes Record Office since 1999 14,494 people have died in aviation crashes for planes that carry 6 passengers or more.  

Apparently humans are more than willing to make compromises for conveniences.

Last I checked, no one in Minnesota has died from either nuclear facility here.

duluthmtnbiker

about 9 years ago

If either nuclear facility needs a place to store the spend fuel rod casks, they can put them in my back yard  (literally).  I would have no problem with that.

Icantbelieveitsnotben

about 9 years ago

Actually, I'm pretty sure you would have a problem if you started storing nuclear waste in your backyard. Unless you're into having a horrible and painful death by radiation poisoning. Or were you going to build a massive containment unit? That shit ain't cheap you know.

duluthmtnbiker

about 9 years ago

Not to mention that the same dollars that went to GE and Westinghouse to develop designs for turbine generators in coal and nuclear facilities are also used in wind turbines.

adam

about 9 years ago

As if there are no government subsidies for coal or coal gasification or biomass or hydro or anything else.

How about overhauling the aging, monopolistic power transmission infrastructure for a little investment in efficiency?

rnarum

about 9 years ago

I wonder how many third world / developing world children it would take to power a city ...

if, while sewing our garments for three cents per day ... and at the same time ... 

if they were all walking on treadmills that were connected to electrical generators ... 

what if we varied their training? Jog one minute ... walk four ... jog one ... walk four ...

wildgoose

about 9 years ago

Almost out of nowhere, Adam swoops in for the W.  Excellent.  It's a messy world and there are problems with every kind of energy.  But upgrading the transmission system, encouraging more efficient energy usage is a win on all sides.  

I wish there was a silver bullet, but it's not nuclear, and it's not wind and I don't know what else there is that's ready for prime time.  In fact, I think that's the solution, invest in more research and development to find what works.

Dave Sorenen

about 9 years ago

Wild boars in Germany are still too radioactive to eat due to Chernobyl. As has been said above, there is no solution to the storage problem so it ain't cheap , or even profitable. The myth of safety is partly due to the fact that all the mishaps don't make it into the media, and exposure to radiation often affects people decades later. Read Nukewatch for the facts on nuclear power. http://www.nukewatch.com/ What is cheap, safe, clean or efficient about that plant in Japan? It's a foolish, arrogant way to boil water.

Dave Sorenen

about 9 years ago

From Nukewatch:

No less than Jeffrey Immelt, CEO of General Electric, one of the world's richest nuclear engineering firms, discouraged new reactor construction because of financial liabilities. In the Nov. 18, 2007, London Financial Times, Immelt said, "If you were a utility CEO and looked at your world today, you would just do gas and wind. You would say [they are] easier to site, digestible [and] I don't have to bet my company on any of this stuff. You would never do nuclear. The economics are overwhelming."

Dave Sorenen

about 9 years ago

Nukewatch's "nuclear shorts" documents nuclear accidents. The list is staggering. 
http://www.nukewatch.com/shorts/index.html

Bad Cat!

about 9 years ago

Yes, nuclear power has had a history of being very safe. But, it's like comparing car crashes and plane crashes. You are far more likely to get in an car crash than a plane crash, but you can walk away from most car accidents, if you get in a plane crash, you're pretty much fucked.

Nuclear does have a great safety record, but when things go wrong, things go really wrong.

duluthmtnbiker

about 9 years ago

The Boswell Energy Center in Cohasset, MN has almost the same capacity as the nuclear facility at Prairie Island.  Boswell released 8 million tons of CO2 into the atmosphere in 2006 alone.  Boswell burns through 4 train-loads of coal per day.  Is that responsible? 

Here is a quantification of the effects of just one plant from SourceWatch 
http://www.sourcewatch.org/index.php?title=Boswell_Energy_Center

"Table 1: Death and disease attributable to fine particle pollution from Boswell Energy Center

Type of Impact Annual Valuation
Deaths 55 $400,000,000
Heart attacks 87 $9,500,000
Asthma attacks 910 $47,000
Hospital admissions 40 $930,000
Chronic bronchitis 34 $15,000,000
Asthma ER visits 56 $20,000
"

This is just one of over 600 coal plants in the nation, 21 in Minnesota alone.

Dave Sorenen

about 9 years ago

Bad Cat- on what do you base your assertion that nuclear power has had a history of being very safe? Seriously, check out the Nukewatch "shorts" above.

Vicarious

about 9 years ago

Clearly, there is no feasible way to compare fossil-based and nuclear energy, in terms of immediate safety. 

Both are "unsafe" either in the long- or short term. 

Positing that nuclear energy is somehow inherently "safe" is patently ridiculous.

Farragut76

about 9 years ago

David, where are the lists about Coal or other fossil fuel plants? Here is a nice article about coal ash from Scientific American. http://www.scientificamerican.com/article.cfm?id=coal-ash-is-more-radioactive-than-nuclear-waste. 

People keep talking about how solar and wind power are better. Yes, they are about as clean as you can get but there is a reason why wind and solar farms are massive and are only used to supplement the fossil fuel plants and nuclear plants. 

Besides, the majority of all nuclear accidents are human error or the Russians trying to cut corners by building without adequate protection. The Japanese Fukushima plant failed because a tsunami and an earthquake hit the plant, not because it was nuclear and destined to fail. 

The majority of the articles on the nukewatch can be echoed if it was about a fossil fuel power plant, so thats an epic fail.

Dave Sorenen

about 9 years ago

" The majority of articles on the nukewatch can be echoed if it was about a fossil fuel power plant...."  What does that mean, Farragut76? It makes no sense to me.

zra

about 9 years ago

see: Hanford Nuclear Reservation and the nearby cities, known as the Dry Shitties and the subsequent health problems associated with living close to one of the largest nuclear production and containment facilities in the world if you think nuclear power is a safe way to go...

Bad Cat!

about 9 years ago

@Dave Sorenen: "safe" as in, there have only been a few large-scale disasters in the nuclear power industry (Chernobyl, Three Mile Island, etc.).
Do I feel that nuclear power is completely safe? Oh hell no! I really hate the fact that nuclear power creates an extremely hazardous byproduct that we have yet to figure out what to do with!
I really don't like the idea of nuclear power (driving past my first nuke plant while on vacation gave me serious heebie-jeebies), but I'm not sure what a "perfect" energy source would be. Every system has it's positives and negatives, and I don't know near enough to make an educated decision.

Bad Cat!

about 9 years ago

And I also hate when I forget to close my italics tag!

Farragut76

about 9 years ago

Well, David, since I have to spell it out for you, the majority of the bad things on nuke watch can be the same if a fossil fuel plant had those incidents. 

The majority of the "incidents" are not even connected to nuclear power plants, why don't you read the website contents before posting it.

radarski

about 9 years ago

Had the massive 9.0 Richter-scale earthquake that savaged Japan hit off the California coast, it could have ripped apart at least four coastal reactors and sent a lethal cloud of radiation across the entire United States.

The two huge reactors each at San Onofre and Diablo Canyon are not designed to withstand such powerful shocks. All four are extremely close to major faults. 

In 1986 the Perry nuclear plant, east of Cleveland, was rocked by a 5.5 Richter-scale shock, many orders of magnitude weaker than the one in Japan. That quake broke pipes and other key equipment within the plant. It took out nearby roads and bridges.

Nuclear energy is neither safe nor clean. Nuclear waste remains dangerous for millions of years. Virtually all homeowner insurance policies in the United States exempt the insurers from liability from a reactor disaster. 

The list of incidents occurring at nuclear power plants is frightening. Three Mile Island was frightening. Chernobyl was apocalyptic. It ain't worth the risk and never has been worth the risk. In the words of Pete Seegar "When will they ever learn? When will they ever learn?"

Dave Sorensen

about 9 years ago

Farragut- it's apples and oranges , not "echoes". Spills,leaks, etc. dealing with radioactive material are much more toxic for a much longer period of time. The Hanford site, mentioned above, will be a wasteland for thousands of years. I have read Nukewatch for years. It's a great paper, available locally.

bk gullsgate

about 9 years ago

Not to worry...
just go our merry way...
tomorrow isn't today
until the daisies you seed
in April
glow like garden lights
when they reach
full bloom
in June
under a too blue moon.

duluthmtnbiker

about 9 years ago

Fossil fuel plants have environmental disasters of their own that are equally as horrific.  In December of 2008, three hundred acres were covered with toxic sludge when a wall of a coal ash holding pond near Kingston in East Tennessee gave way.  This was only one of more than 1,300 similar dumps across the United States — most of them unregulated and unmonitored — that contain billions more gallons of fly ash and other toxic byproducts of burning coal.

Dave Sorensen

about 9 years ago

mtnbiker- I share your view of the dangers of our outrageous use of fossil fuels. However, I was responding to your comment that nukes are clean ,safe and cheap. In reality they are dirty, dangerous and expensive.

Dave Sorensen

about 9 years ago

mtnbiker- sorry, I misquoted you. You said "cleanest, safest , cheapest".

duluthmtnbiker

about 9 years ago

I'm only declaring that in comparison to fossil fuels.

I never said that nuclear was safe or cheap.  I said it was the cleanest, safest, cheapest, most efficient form of energy available.

radarski

about 9 years ago

Nothing in the way of man made disasters comes within an order of magnitude of the disaster that was and is Chernobyl. If not for Chernobyl the Soviet Union might still exist. Of course global warming is no walk in the park and other forms of energy have their problems too.

duluthmtnbiker

about 9 years ago

You can't blame Chernobyl on the energy source, that was caused by terrible judgement and out-right stupidity on the part of the humans in control.  I'm sure those same people could turn any technology into a large-scale global disaster.

radarski

about 9 years ago

Nuclear reactors are a huge risk. Jihadists, private militias, suicide commandos, and random saboteurs are probably planning attacks on nuclear facilities this instant. Biker dude, the nuclear power industry doesn't need any more spokespersons or lobbyists.

duluthmtnbiker

about 9 years ago

Belgium, France, Germany and Switzerland all recycle their spent nuclear fuel.  Unfortunately it's against federal law in the United States for energy producers to process spent nuclear fuel.  That's why we store it.

I'm not a spokesperson, I just know most people don't understand and have a lot of misconceptions when in comes to nuclear energy production.

bk gullsgate

about 9 years ago

Even the movers-and-shakers are all shook up this time?

So do we ponder a little longer and debate and reach another 'consensus' in a compromise of diplomatic 'corporationality'(made up word,eh)

 ...for wise men know, the big boom and the big bucks stop there not here with the people? There's where our fate is tied; bought out for the Big Guys, yup.

All that can be achieved is compromise, compromise, into another resolution which will be no viable solution...

So I suppose all anyone can do is wait; ponder a little longer and debate, until the statue-warrior in the public square is wearing that inevitable square of white across his face; a face mask...who knows and thanks for the space. Have good day.

Dave Sorensen

about 9 years ago

We have slammed into the limits to growth on the planet, but our economic system depends on endless growth. Renewable energy can't work without massive conservation and downsizing, and I doubt that will happen. So we're headed for a hard-landing instead of a soft-landing. The developed world is like some steroid-mutant body-builder and we need to trim down to about the size of a Chinese or Indian peasant -farmer. We need to get humble or die, but we are not advancing morally as a species, so that's hard to imagine. If anything motivates us to move towards green energy it will be the laws of nature not the laws of the marketplace . Can we learn to live within the limits imposed by the natural world, for the sake of future generations?

Dr. Ronald Chevalier

about 9 years ago

You don't hear much on why all of the Japanese plants were located right on the ocean as opposed to up on the hill, I guess proximity to water is the obvious answer, they'd have to pump water then.  But in 20/20 hindsight... it seems really stupid to have them all like sitting ducks in front of the Tsunami, on a spot where four fault lines intersect. Shouldn't there have been nice parks by the water instead?  Reminds me of Superior city planning. Never keep all your ducks in one basket. Hope for best, plan for the worst.

adam

about 9 years ago

If not for Chernobyl the Soviet Union might still exist.

Are you fucking kidding me?

John LaForge

about 9 years ago

We know nuclear reactors are unsafe because 1) they are the only industrial operations in the world that are required to produce evacuation plans prior to start-up; and 2) not even the largest insurance companies on earth will sell the owners/operators a policy. Governments have to enact their own limited liability  statutes -- the U.S. has the Price Anderson Act -- to partly cover the potential costs of a disaster.

radarski

about 9 years ago

Adam no one is trying to kid you. Per Mikhail Gorbachev: "The nuclear meltdown at Chernobyl..., even more than my launch of perestroika, was perhaps the real cause of the collapse of the Soviet Union five years later. Indeed, the Chernobyl catastrophe was a historic turning point: there was the era before the disaster, and there is the very different era that has followed."

Shane

about 9 years ago

According to James Howard Knustler, the Earth can only support 1 billion people without the use of fossil fuels. Namely, natural gas, coal and oil. Nuclear energy is only possible by the cheap energy provided by fossil fuels.  This means that 7 out of 8 of us are screwed.

zra

about 9 years ago

McDonald's and Levi's killed the Soviet Union.

adam

about 9 years ago

And MTV. True that.

Shane

about 9 years ago

Overpopulation of the Earth is the elephant in the room that no one wants to talk about.

Vicarious

about 9 years ago

If the isotopes don't kill us, the aliens will. If the aliens don't kill us, the meteors will. If the meteors don't kill us, the earthquakes will. If the earthquakes don't kill us, mercury will. If mercury doesn't kill us, the Muslims will. If the Muslims don't kill us, the CIA will. If you don't kill us, somebody will.

Dr. Ronald Chevalier

about 9 years ago

F'n well said Vicarious...
Life can kill you.  Nobody worries about being born.

zra

about 9 years ago

Don't worry about overpopulation. The earth will self correct.

Bad Cat!

about 9 years ago

Agreed about the overpopulation. We're not able to find a perfect source of energy because our energy needs are so vast.

Dave Sorensen

about 9 years ago

Of course we're all gonna die from something, but I think this discussion has been partly about how willing we are to speed the demise of future generations and other species.

adam

about 9 years ago

Double. Down.

vicarious

about 9 years ago

Dave S.,

I guess I'm trying to posit that life is fatal, no matter what (as you said), and that arguing whether or not nuclear vs. fossil energy is "more" fatal is silly. They both suck...bad. 

And yet, the average American lifespan is lengthening. Meanwhile, average lifespan in most "Third World" countries is declining. 

In conclusion, everything is relative. Everything.

Dave Sorensen

about 9 years ago

Maybe we need a new thread discussing renewable energy and whether we have the wherewithal for the conservation/conversion required. Relative to fossil-fuels or nukes -  solar, wind, etc. are win-win. I agree- debating whether we want to die from cancer ( of which we have an epidemic) or hurricanes/floods/draught/etc. is pointless. I'm done too.

John LaForge

about 9 years ago

A few more reasons why nuclear power is a bust:

WIND POWER INSTALLATION SPRINTS, NUCLEAR STUMBLES 
9,922 megawatts of wind power generation was installed in the U.S. in 2009 breaking all previous wind production records. The one-year installation record is equivalent to the building of six large nuclear reactors, or three times the 2-unit South Texas Project that produces 2,700 MW. The new wind energy megawatts were built in one/tenth of the time it takes to build merely one new reactor -— normally 10 years. The U.S. wind industry entered 2011 with over 5,600 MW of electric power under construction, far above the same time last year, and wind is now cost-competitive with natural gas for new electric generation, and will be buoyed by a 1-year extension of the 1603 Investment Tax Credit for renewable energy.
--American Wind Power Association, 2010 Annual Report

GE CHARIMAN LOOKS AHEAD, SLAMS NUCLEAR'S PROSPECTS
 "If you were a utility CEO and looked at your world today, you would just do gas and wind. You would say (they are) easier to site, digestible today and I don't have to bet my company on any of this stuff. You would never do nuclear. The economics are overwhelming," said Jeffrey Immelt, CEO of one of the world's top reactor engineering firms. About its chances to growing on government handouts, the Chairman said, "The nuclear industry is here because government supported it in the United States. This notion that government is not a catalyst in this industry has no basis in fact."
-— Wall Street Journal, Sept. 25, 2010, & London Financial Times, Nov. 18, 2007

SOLAR POWER CHEAPER THAN NUCLEAR
 "Electricity from new solar installations is now cheaper than electricity from proposed new nuclear" reactors.
-— "Solar and Nuclear Costs - The Historic Crossover: Solar Energy is Now the Better Buy," Blackburn & Cunningham, Duke University, July 2010

F.E.R.C. CHAIR SAYS WE DON'T NEED NEW REACTORS
No new nuclear plants may ever be needed in the United States, the chairman of the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission, Jon Wellinghoff, said April 22, 2009. "We may not need any, ever," he told reporters, saying new coal plants and nuclear reactors are "too expensive." Renewable energy systems "like wind, solar and biomass would be able to provide enough energy to meet base load capacity and future demands." He charged that "Until [new reactors] get to some reasonable cost, I don't think anybody's going to take [nuclear] seriously," noting that the U.S. can reduce energy usage by 50 percent.
—- Wall Street Journal, April 23, 2009; & New York Times, April 22, 2009

U.S. COMMISSION SAYS NO TO NUCLEAR SUBSIDIES
The Federal Commission on the Prevention of Weapons of Mass Destruction Proliferation and Terrorism has told the United States that it can help stop the spread of nuclear weapons by "... discouraging, to the extent possible, the use of financial incentives in the promotion of civil nuclear power."
-— "The Clock is Ticking," CPWMDPT, Oct. 21, 2009 (http://preventwmd.com/static/docs/report/WMDRpt10-20Final.pdf)

spooman

about 9 years ago

Alarmists make me laugh.

TimK

about 9 years ago

Attention PDD, we have a new troll! His name is spooman!

duluthmtnbiker

about 9 years ago

Don't get me wrong, I'm all in favor of renewable energy from solar and wind.

However, without an economical and scalable way to store energy from solar and wind, these two generation options can never produce the sustained power required by industrial and commercial needs.  Not to mention the fleet of plasma TVs that leave Best Buy every week.  Also, without government subsidies these two technologies are also not economically feasible as they are very expensive and can currently only assist during peak times.

chadp

about 9 years ago

Really nice data and graphics comparing coal, oil and nuclear.  

http://sethgodin.typepad.com/seths_blog/2011/03/the-triumph-of-coal-marketing.html

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