The political, social networking site that integrates politics with popular culture.
The political, social networking site that integrates politics with popular culture.

Profile photo of James L. Riggs
James L. Riggs @jlriggs57aol-com


Gary, thank you for inviting me into this discussion. As you know I am a Nuclear Worker, that is to say that I work what is called “outages”. When a nuclear plant shuts down to refuel they also do maintenance operations that they are not able to do while the plant is running. Some of these items are valve and pipe replacement, maintenance and repair to bus systems (electrical), etc.

One of the first things I would like to address is the history and safety involved in nuclear power. Most people don’t know that the first nuclear power plant in the U.S. was in Shippingport, Pa. at it went on-line in 1957.

On a personal note, 3 great things can be accredited to that year, the first nuclear power plant, the ’57 Chevy, and it was the year I was born. Who could ask for a better year.

Moving on. “There are currently 65 commercially operating nuclear power plants with 104 nuclear reactors in 31 states around the country. Thirty-six of the plants have two or more reactors. These plants have generated about 20% of U.S. electricity each year since 1990.”

Since the time the first nuclear power plant went on line in 1957, we have had “one” count em’ “one” note worthy incident at that was Three Mile Island. Which had no impact on humans, animals, or even vegetation.

Here is an excerpt from the link below.

{The Three Mile Island accident caused concerns about the possibility of radiation-induced health effects, principally cancer, in the area surrounding the plant. Because of those concerns, the Pennsylvania Department of Health for 18 years maintained a registry of more than 30,000 people who lived within five miles of Three Mile Island at the time of the accident. The state’s registry was discontinued in mid 1997, without any evidence of unusual health trends in the area.

Indeed, more than a dozen major, independent health studies of the accident showed no evidence of any abnormal number of cancers around TMI years after the accident. The only detectable effect was psychological stress during and shortly after the accident.}

Another aspect of this issue is nuclear waste, which boils down to the remain radiation found in the spent fuel rods. According to the information found on this next link they found a way to use this spent fuel in 2012, but as it is new technology it may be a few years before they begin using it.

Excerpt: {Scientists at the US Department of Energy’s Argonne National Laboratory think they have found a way to access the remaining 95% of the uranium in the fuel rod. Their technique could produce hundreds to thousands of years worth of carbon free energy just by reusing the uranium that has already been mined, and is currently considered ‘spent’.}

The biggest thing that is typically misunderstood about nuclear power plants is the amount of dosage that a person can get working in or living around them.

The NRC sets limits to what is acceptable for workers at a nuclear facility. They are as follows: A person can receive up to 5 REMS (which equals 5,000 milirems), a pregnant worker can receive up to 50 milirems, and the general public can only receive 100 milirems. The average full time nuclear plant worker receives 310 milirem a year.

Now so that this is all put into perspective here are the average doses received by a range of people.

Excerpts: {All of us are exposed to radiation every day, both from natural sources such minerals in the ground and from man-made sources such as medical x-rays. According to the National Council on Radiation Protection and Measurement, the average annual radiation dose per person in the U.S. is 620 millirem (6.2 milliSieverts). The pie chart below shows the sources of this average dose.


{Half of our average dose comes from natural background sources: cosmic radiation from space, naturally occurring radioactive minerals in the ground and in your body, and from the radioactive gasses radon and thoron, which are created when other naturally occurring elements undergo radioactive decay. Another 48 percent of our dose comes from medical diagnostics and treatments.}

The chart at the bottom of this site will show you how much dosage comes from other sources as well as from a nuclear facility.

I feel I have been thorough, if I have left anything unanswered let me know.

You must be logged in to view attached files.

Profile photo of Tyler
Tyler @sincltj

I’m not very knowledgeable when it comes to energy and natural resources, so I appreciate the educational value of this feed. If I may, I would like to ask some questions:

How much more powerful is nuclear energy compared to what is created from something such as coal? How much more energy output does a nuclear electrical plant create opposed to one that uses natural resources?

How much money is required to build a nuclear facility as well as the average per year cost of maintenance? Would it be cheaper in the long run to just keep using what we can gather with fossil fuels, or pump money into research now, and be able to use the nuclear power that is reusable?

Is the research and implementation of nuclear energy creation going to be left to citizens, or to the government? Will the government have control of energy, or will it be controlled by the people?

Profile photo of James L. Riggs
James L. Riggs @jlriggs57aol-com


Tyler, didn’t know you posted or I would have gotten back to you sooner. If you would, please copy and paste my @ when you post. I will get an email that shows me you have made a comment.

According to the following links in costs approximately 1 billion dollars to build a coal fire power plant and double that for a nuclear plant.

There are some major differences in the two that accounts for the cost differences. Although all construction costs will vary due to region, accessibility of goods, labor costs, weather, and location of the construction site. There are redundant systems built into nuclear plants and for some systems there are multiple redundant systems, none of which are needed in a fossil fuel plant. There are costs for the building extras that are not needed on a fossil plant, spent fuel pool, a Containment Building which houses the reactor, an area connected to the Containment Building, typically called the Auxiliary Building, etc. These areas are designed to contain radiation. Then there is an additional cost for storing contaminated waste and used fuel cells, plus an additional cost of banking decomissioning funds, used for the tear down of the plant in the future.

As far as the output of a fossil vs. nuclear plant, the only difference is in the size of the turbine at any given plant. You can run the same size turbines at either type of plant.

Typically research is done by the corporations that are involved in the nuclear industry, the only participation by the government is through the Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC). They, more than likely, would have some say as far as the safety aspect of a new plant, but little on the actual function or running of it.

Up sides to a nuclear plant is that the plant can run on one refueling for as much as 2 years before needing to refuel, whereas fossil plants need to be continuously fuel by tons and tons of coal every day. I do not know the difference in cost between fuel rods and the cost of the multiple tons of coal used in the same two-year period but I would say that the savings are huge or nuclear plants wouldn’t be running.

Nuclear power is only regulated by the government, again this is for safety. The people really don’t have that much to say in the matter. We have no more say with power plants than we do with where they build the next Advance Auto Parts store or the next BP gas station. All of these things are basically corporate decisions. Business typically build where it is convenient, cost-effective, or proper location.

I believe I have addressed all of your questions. If there is something more, please remember to leave my @ on your next post. Thanks.

You must be logged in to reply to this topic.

In order to comment you must: