Register

Peak Oil is You


Donate Bitcoins ;-) or Paypal :-)


Page added on February 23, 2018

Bookmark and Share

The ERoEI of Mining Uranium

The ERoEI of Mining Uranium thumbnail

In 2009, in the comments to this post on The Oil Drum we stumbled upon a mine of information on the operation of the Rossing uranium mine in Namibia. The data table provided numbers for the amount of energy used on site together with the amount of uranium mined. This provided an opportunity to calculate the energy return of the mining operation. Simply put ERoEI = energy contained in the U / the energy used to mine and refine it. There are some complexities but back then I calculated an ERoEI of 1200:1 The data has been updated and fresh calculations are presented below.

First a few words about Rossing. The mine is operated by Rio Tinto, one of the world’s largest mining companies. Discovered in 1928, operations began in 1976. According to Wikipedia Rossing is the 5th largest U mine in the world. The uranium ore is mined, milled and refined at Rossing and the energy numbers here reflect energy used to go from rock to yellow cake (U3O8 inset image up top).

Figure 1 Rossing mine.

Figure 2 Location map from Rio Tinto. Rossing is by Arandis (red dot)

The performance table provides data over 5 years:

Figure 3 Performance table from Rio Tinto.

My calculations are based on 2016.

The first important number to pick out is the energy use on site: 2,528,000 GJ [1]

The second is the uranium oxide produced: 1,850,000 kg [2]

The atomic mass of U = 238 and O = 16. U3O8 = 842 amu. U/U3O8 = 714/842 = 0.848

The third important number is uranium metal produced = 1,850,000 * 0.848 = 1,568,880 kg [3]

We can now calculate the fourth important number which is energy used to mine 1 kg = 2,528,000 GJ / 1,568,880 kg = 1,611 MJ/kg [4]

So far so good. But now we need to determine the energy content of uranium, and here things get a little tricky. I have found it difficult to get a number for the raw energy density of natural U. There are lots of numbers for enriched U and for U used in reactors (see below) and for 235U. I thought I could use the latter but got an ERoEI that made little sense. I then realised that much of the fission heat comes from the onward chain reactions in the daughter products. And it is not actually possible to define an energy content for uranium alone. The only way to go is to use the published figures for heat produced employing different reactor technologies.

The World Nuclear Association provide the following heat values for energy conversions in three types of reactors:

Natural U in light water reactor 500 GJ/kg / 1,611 MJ/kg = 310 (ERoEI)

Natural U in LWR with U & Pu recycle 650 GJ/kg / 1,611 MJ/kg = 404

Natural U in fast neutron reactor 28,000 GJ/kg / 1,611 Mj/kg = 17,380

Reactors only burn a small portion off the 235U fuel (<1%). Spent fuel can be reprocessed and used over many times. The ERoEI in the raw natural U is likely to be >30,000. These numbers show the importance of fast breeder reactor technology in burning a far higher proportion of the fuel with greatly reduced waste volumes per unit of energy produced.

[Edits made 10:38, Wednesday 21. The deleted text is something I got wrong. The spent fuel does still contain 235U and 239Pu which can be recovered and made into new fuel. What % of the available energy this represents I do not know.]

These are not values for the ERoEI of nuclear power but are rather values contained in or extracted from uranium relative to the energy used to mine it. These would be equivalent to mine mouth or wellhead numbers for fossil fuels. To get an ERoEI for nuclear power requires a rather more complex calculation that would include the energy used in fuel enrichment and manufacture, the construction and maintenance of the plant, decommissioning and waste storage. And this would be measured against the electrical energy (not heat energy as above) produced by the plant over its life. This is rather more complex than the scope of a blog post. Two published values I have are from Lenzen (2007)[ref 1] who came up with an ERoEI range of 3 to 10 and D. Weißbach et al (2013)[ref2] who quote a figure of 75. Weißbach’s 75 ERoEI figure seems plausible relative to the Rossing numbers (310 and 404) after allowing for energy consumed in 235U enrichment etc. but Lenzen’s 3-10 estimate does not.  Those who may be able to shed light on  the reasons for the discrepancy are invited to submit comments.

euanmearns.com



40 Comments on "The ERoEI of Mining Uranium"

  1. Antius on Fri, 23rd Feb 2018 7:04 am 

    This document (open access on science direct) explodes the myth of expensive nuclear power.
    https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0301421516300106

    It demonstrates that the spiralling costs of nuclear power are a direct result of regulatory changes that pushed build-times from just a few years to a decade or more. Take a close look at Figure 3.

    This should surprise no one. A nuclear power plant is simply a steam plant with a fission powered boiler. Its fuel costs are smaller than a coal plant. It is one of the most power dense sources of any energy on the market.
    https://pdfs.semanticscholar.org/519e/a5c55a312f3f45ccfcc4a093a941366c6658.pdf

    This is the only realistic candidate for replacing the energy output of fossil fuels. The western world seriously needs to pull its head out of its arse and develop the legal, regulatory and supply chain infrastructure necessary for a rapid increase in nuclear power. We are too far down the fossil fuel depletion curve now to play silly games with fanciful alternative energy sources.

  2. MASTERMIND on Fri, 23rd Feb 2018 7:53 am 

    Antius

    People have radiophobia that is why nuclear is dying…

  3. GregT on Fri, 23rd Feb 2018 8:44 am 

    MM,

    You would be the one on record here saying that when the world’s 400 nuclear plants melt down all at once, people will be coughing up their internal organs.

  4. GregT on Fri, 23rd Feb 2018 8:45 am 

    Of course that would simply be more of your usual unadulterated BS.

  5. MASTERMIND on Fri, 23rd Feb 2018 9:19 am 

    Greg

    Nuke plants don’t kill people. People kill people, when they abandon them after the economy and stock market collapses.

  6. Antius on Fri, 23rd Feb 2018 9:20 am 

    “You would be the one on record here saying that when the world’s 400 nuclear plants melt down all at once, people will be coughing up their internal organs”

    False. I studied radiological consequences as part of my masters’ degree and made a specific case study of the Fukushima accident. I assumed that the affected area had average Japanese population density. Next, I looked at contamination levels, integrated them into long term dose rates and multiplied them by a risk factor 0.05 per Sievert across all age groups.

    The result? Assuming that no evacuation or countermeasures took place and people went on as normal, about 10,000 additional mortalities due to cancer over the next 100 years, most of them occurring within 50 years of the accident. About 90% of the long-term mortalities were due to external dose from ceasium-137 soil contamination.

    That sounds horrific right? It actually isn’t when you consider it in context. The US experiences 200,000 fatalities every single year due to fossil fuel air pollution. In Japan, the amount is greater due to higher population density and higher concentration of pollutants in densely populated cities. The Japanese would need to suffer a nuclear meltdown every couple of weeks before radiation induced illnesses caught up with the horrendous effects of air pollution. Globally, air pollution causes several million deaths per year. If all 400 of the world’s nuclear reactors melted down simultaneously in the next year in the way you suggested, the long-term radiological illnesses resulting might just about catch up with the mortalities from just one year of air pollution. The reality is that 1970s era LWRs have core damage frequency about 1 in 10,000 years. With 400 of them globally, you might expect to see a 3-mile island type accident once every few decades and a Fukushima once every century or so. A real ball ache if it does happen close to you, but not really a very big risk even if you live quite close to a nuclear power plant. Newer designs are orders of magnitude safer.

    As it is, the Japanese have evacuated heavily contaminated areas and dose rates have been far more limited than the unmitigated case I assumed. My guess is they are looking at several hundred early deaths over next 50 years. Against the backdrop of several tens of millions of cancer deaths from other causes over that time, it is doubtful that they will notice such a small increase.

    Long shot: You are far far more at risk from starvation when fossil fuels run out than you are from a nuclear accident.

  7. MASTERMIND on Fri, 23rd Feb 2018 9:36 am 

    Antius

    When 400 nuke plants melt down and explode. It will be like 10k Hiroshima bombs going off. This is an extinction event.

  8. Antius on Fri, 23rd Feb 2018 10:01 am 

    “When 400 nuke plants melt down and explode. It will be like 10k Hiroshima bombs going off. This is an extinction event.”

    You have an exaggerated impression of this risk. It wouldn’t be close to being an extinction event, even if all 400 reactors were to melt-down simultaneously(which they won’t – why the heck would they?).

    A melt-down and large release is a long-term pollution hazard and the risk builds gradually over decades if you live within the fallout zone. It would knock about a year off average life expectancy if you lived within 10 miles of the plant and didn’t move afterwards. After 30 years, half of the original caesium-137 will be gone and other nasty short lived things will be down to negligible levels.

    If you live in an area with high background radiation you are more likely to die sooner from cancer or cardiovascular disease. The additional risk is proportional to dose, it’s that simple. It isn’t qualitatively different to living in an area with high air pollution. The long term effects are similar.

    The bottom line is that it would certainly add to humanities problems if all of the worlds nuclear reactors were to somehow melt down simultaneously. But it isn’t a scratch on the billions of fatalities that we are going to face when fossil fuel energy runs out.

  9. Antius on Fri, 23rd Feb 2018 10:22 am 

    Some 7 million air pollution deaths per year globally.

    http://www.who.int/mediacentre/news/releases/2014/air-pollution/en/

    That is like having a Fukushima every 8 hours! It is remarkable what people can turn a blind eye to.

  10. MASTERMIND on Fri, 23rd Feb 2018 10:33 am 

    Antius

    even if all 400 reactors were to melt-down simultaneously(which they won’t – why the heck would they?).

    When the global economy collapses and total Anarchy ensues! There is your reason…Duh

  11. Antius on Fri, 23rd Feb 2018 10:50 am 

    MM, You think the world is going to dissolve into a zombie apocalypse overnight? One day everyone in the world wakes up and decides to smash open each others skulls and feast on the goo inside? Suddenly all human beings turn into flesh eating zombies more quickly than it takes to hit the scram button in a nuclear reactor control room?

    I don’t think so. More likely, post collapse USA will look like Russia in the early 90s. A lot of poor people, some even starving and a lot of inequality and cruelty. But society will creak along at a generally more impoverished level. What we are heading into will be depressing in the extreme but it will be more like Soylent Green than Walking Dead.

    It wouldn’t have been either of those things if we had built ten times the nuclear generating capacity that we actually did. There is still time. But things are going to get worse before they get better.

  12. GregT on Fri, 23rd Feb 2018 12:54 pm 

    Antius,

    “False. I studied radiological consequences as part of my masters’ degree and made a specific case study of the Fukushima accident.”

    It you look closely at my comment, you will see that it was directed towards MM.

    “More likely, post collapse USA will look like Russia in the early 90s. A lot of poor people, some even starving and a lot of inequality and cruelty. But society will creak along at a generally more impoverished level. What we are heading into will be depressing in the extreme but it will be more like Soylent Green than Walking Dead.”

    Completely agree Antius.

  13. MASTERMIND on Fri, 23rd Feb 2018 1:09 pm 

    Greg and Antus

    I don’t think either of you are aware what a global economic collapse means. It means every corporation, bank, currency, social program, government, going bankrupt at once. After that happens a smooth regression is hard to imagine…

  14. MASTERMIND on Fri, 23rd Feb 2018 1:11 pm 

    A Regional Oil Extraction and Consumption Model. (Dittmar 2017)

    Our model predictions indicate that several of the larger oil consuming and importing countries and regions will be confronted with the economic consequences of the onset of the world’s final oil supply crisis as early as 2020.

    https://arxiv.org/pdf/1708.03150.pdf

    Less than 3 years till Anarchy!

  15. Antius on Fri, 23rd Feb 2018 1:24 pm 

    MM, thanks for the link, I will read tonight.

    GregT, apologies, took your comment out of context.

    We are already close to a stockmarket crash. My suspicion is that things will hit the fan before 2020, probably before the end of this year. There are going to be a lot of desperate and angry people. Rather like a rerun of the 1930s.

  16. GregT on Fri, 23rd Feb 2018 1:27 pm 

    There isn’t going to be a global economic collapse because of an oil supply crunch MM. Net oil importers will see economic downturn, while net exporters will see an increase in profits.

    The conclusion from your last linked report, which BTW, also does not agree with your outlook. It does, however, agree with mine.

    “In order to conclude this article on a more positive note, let us hope that the end of the oil era, and indeed the end of the fossil-fuel era, will lead not only to reduced CO2 emissions and less Global Warming than would otherwise have been seen, but to new, locally-oriented, more conscious and more ethical ways of life. Let us hope that each of us can become committed to leaving the worst aspects of the 20th century in history’s dustbin.”

    https://arxiv.org/pdf/1708.03150.pdf

  17. GregT on Fri, 23rd Feb 2018 1:32 pm 

    ‘There are going to be a lot of desperate and angry people. Rather like a rerun of the 1930s.”

    I also agree with you on that point Antius. I will also add, those who anticipate the coming crash, and allocate their resources wisely, will do well.

  18. MASTERMIND on Fri, 23rd Feb 2018 1:38 pm 

    Greg

    That isn’t the conclusion that is just a positive note. And that is what i have been saying for months now that global warming is a big nothing burger and we dont have the fossil fuels to reach above 4 plus degrees. And once the oil supply shortages hit it will cause a global economic collapse you old fat pussy! LOL Net oil importers will see a down turn! We are already in a down turn you retard..Global GDP per capita is at an all time low of 1 percent.

    https://data.worldbank.org/indicator/NY.GDP.PCAP.KD.ZG

  19. MASTERMIND on Fri, 23rd Feb 2018 1:41 pm 

    When the oil shortages hit it will cause a global economic collapse..see these three studies below! You can’t grow global GDP with an oil shortage. And if the economy doesn’t grow it goes into a deflationary death spiral.

    http://www.energybulletin.net/sites/default/files/Peak%20Oil_Study%20EN.pdf
    http://sustainable.unimelb.edu.au/sites/default/files/docs/MSSI-ResearchPaper-4_Turner_2014.pdf
    http://www.feasta.org/wp-content/uploads/2012/06/Trade-Off1.pdf

  20. MASTERMIND on Fri, 23rd Feb 2018 1:43 pm 

    Greg

    I also agree with you on that point Antius. I will also add, those who anticipate the coming crash, and allocate their resources wisely, will do well.

    Those who allocate resources will become easy targets for all those who didn’t prepare.

    There I fixed it for ya!

  21. GregT on Fri, 23rd Feb 2018 1:50 pm 

    There isn’t going to be a global economic collapse MM.

    No doubt, there will be extremely difficult and troubling times ahead, however.

    Move as far away from densely populated areas as possible, get involved at the small local community level, get out of debt, and learn how to provide your own food.

  22. tommywantshismommy on Fri, 23rd Feb 2018 2:08 pm 

    Take the good with the bad. There is no perfect source of energy…they all have their negatives. Even wind only blows half the time (if that). If it was between staying cool (summer) or cold (winter)…let those nukes be built. I really don’t want to have to eat my neighbors…but i will.

  23. dave thompson on Fri, 23rd Feb 2018 2:13 pm 

    I cannot imagine we humans can build enough nukes to make much difference. Way to expensive to build, run, maintain and decommission over the entire life cycle. Here in the US most of the Nukes are well past thirty years old and ready to shut down if we have any sense that is.

  24. MASTERMIND on Fri, 23rd Feb 2018 2:45 pm 

    Greg

    There will be a global economic collapse per limits to growth! Its been accurate for forty plus years, why would anything change in the next decade? Even Dr Meadows has said “its too late for sustainability”.
    https://imgur.com/a/84Xyz

    And I am not going anywhere. My mom is 65 years old and lives by herself. I am not about to leave her to die and be eaten by zombies! I want to go out with my people! For better or for worse! Live free or die!

  25. onlooker on Fri, 23rd Feb 2018 2:45 pm 

    And then with the hoped for energy renaissance are we keep trashing the planet and populating it. No silver bullet

  26. kervennic@gmail.com on Fri, 23rd Feb 2018 2:54 pm 

    Who cares about EROI, it tells only a fraction of the story.
    Namely, if EROI is low you know it is crap but a good EROI does not make your from of energy useful and sustainable. You do not put a nuclear reactor in your car.

    In the end it is all about money and money tells you about usefull energy.

    And to convert energy from uranium to an energy you can use conveniently is very very expensive.

    The energy content of Uranium is by no way a limiting factor. Same with solar energy. It is not the sun that is the limiting factor.

    It is just common sense that is sometimes get lost under formula.

  27. Fred on Fri, 23rd Feb 2018 3:16 pm 

    Would it be useful to include the energy use of the Fukushima clean up in this picture? How about the energy use of perpetual storage in conditions that can sustain most natural disasters we’re familiar with (let’s keep meteor strikes out of the calculations).

    How would energy conservation (ie using less of the stuff) stack up aganst this?

  28. Antius on Fri, 23rd Feb 2018 3:31 pm 

    “And to convert energy from uranium to an energy you can use conveniently is very very expensive.”

    Read the study. It is only as expensive because licensing and legal red tape stretch build times to over a decade. Any powerplant would be expensive under those conditions. There is nothing inherently expensive about a nuclear reactor. In the 1970s we were banging these out in 3-5 years at costs of around $1000/kW (2010 dollars). We could do the same today.

    https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0301421516300106

  29. Fred on Sat, 24th Feb 2018 2:42 am 

    Antius,

    Ignorning the obvious environmental issues: Chernbyl, Fukushima, countless “little” accidents, leaking storage facilities… I guess you may have a point if you don’t mind that our children (and their children and their children and … for thousands of generations) will be responsible for maintaining storage facilities to very hgh standards, clean up (possibly taking decades depending on what happened), dismantling reactors that are EOL, maintaining those that are running etc.

    I would read your posts with more interest if you would not conveniently leave all this out of your analysis.

  30. deadly on Sat, 24th Feb 2018 3:10 am 

    Nuclear power plants under construction and start dates here

    There is a plethora of new nuclear power plants.

    Resistance is futile, you are assimilated.

    Might as well get used to it, it’s here now, it’s all or nothing.

    Nuclear is here to stay. Like the Hotel California, nuclear has checked-in and will never checkout.

    Too far down the rabbit hole, nuclear waste is a part of life, has to be dealt with.

    Can’t ignore it, it will be at great peril.

    Drinking is a solution. Vodka, Stolichnaya, of course, since the Russians have at least one good thing to offer to keep humanity from suffering too much, a special day has been set aside to help humanity survive. Today is that day, Vodka Day, an international holiday, proclaimed right now.

    You won’t be disappointed.

  31. Kat C on Sat, 24th Feb 2018 3:31 am 

    Here is an important story about Chernobyl that everyone ignores. Its really nice and comforting for people to see horses and wolves return to Chernobyl (although I suspect they return to the edges not closer) But what about the insects and why does that matter. It matters because insects, bacteria, fungi break down leaf litter and plant material which then becomes soil which grows food for other creatures. But in Chernobyl the forest floor isn’t decaying properly
    https://www.smithsonianmag.com/science-nature/forests-around-chernobyl-arent-decaying-properly-180950075/ That is more worrisome than how many people are directly affected by a meltdown.

  32. Kat C on Sat, 24th Feb 2018 3:41 am 

    The second thing that is not discussed about nuclear plants is that we have only seen what a meltdown does when massive efforts are made to control it. If collapse causes the nuke plants to all go Fukushima, then it will also mean that the resources will not be there to contain it. An instructive watch is this video about the massive efforts to contain Chernobyl. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=govLPdO_xvc The efforts a Fukushima are ongoing and costing billions. Try get your head around over 400 sites going Chernobyl with no efforts to remediate.
    It takes 40 years or more currently to shutter up a nuclear plant. And lots of money (that supposedly is set aside for that purpose but probably has been used for other things). So only a few plants will be properly shut down before the failure of the grid brings them down. So Vodka day today, rum tomorrow?

  33. Simon on Sat, 24th Feb 2018 4:08 am 

    Hi Antius

    I keep hearing how nuclear would be cheap if only we dropped some regulations.
    There is never a regulation given.
    Could you let me know which regulations the nuclear industry would want dropped, to bring the costs down ?

    thanks

    Simon

  34. Cloggie on Sat, 24th Feb 2018 8:24 am 

    https://deepresource.wordpress.com/2017/12/16/siemens-reports-eroi-onshore-wind-of-50-or-larger/

    Siemens Reports EROI Onshore Wind of 50 or Larger

    It is completely irrelevant if EROI is 50 or 1200, as it is completely irrelevant for a potato farmer to have to reserve 1 potato for the next harvest from a current harvest of 50 or 1200 potatoes.

    The Achilles heel of uranium is not eroi or even money, but depletion, just like conventional oil. If all electricity globally would be generated by uranium, the material would run out in merely 14 nears.

    In other words, you can’t plan a future energy base on conventional uranium.

    Now there is a work-around, namely to reprocess spent fuel.

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nuclear_fuel_cycle
    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fast-neutron_reactor

    The disadvantages are well-known:

    1. storage problem
    2. proliferation of nuclear weapons
    3. meltdown risk (Fukushima, Chernobyl, Three Miles Island). If it goes wrong, it really goes wrong.

    In short, even if the nuclear industry would have any technological and financial merit, it still has a gigantic PR-problem, although it diverges from country to country, with Britain, France and Russia more and most other countries less nuclear-minded. Usually the countries that are pro, also have a nuclear weapons program.

  35. Umnik on Sat, 24th Feb 2018 12:40 pm 

    hi antius,

    is it possible to read your study somewhere?

    Best

    Umnik

  36. Doggie on Sat, 24th Feb 2018 3:08 pm 

    Global meltdown will occur sometime before the year 5 billion CE. The poor sun will not last any longer than that, alas.

  37. Antius on Sun, 25th Feb 2018 4:35 pm 

    “I keep hearing how nuclear would be cheap if only we dropped some regulations.
    There is never a regulation given.
    Could you let me know which regulations the nuclear industry would want dropped, to bring the costs down?”

    The cost of a nuclear power reactor increases exponentially with build time. For nuclear power reactors to be cheap, build time is all important (See Figure 3 in the link below).

    https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0301421516300106

    It takes an act of parliament or congress for a nuclear power plant to be granted planning stage. An absurd situation that isn’t the case for other energy sources.

    The build process itself is convoluted, with long delays between build stages to allow for inspections that add little value but increase costs.

    Following completion of a powerplant, it can take 3-10 years to get an operating licence from the NRC in the states. That is just absurd. The completed plant just sits there gathering dust and accumulating debt interest, while these people decide that it can operate.

    The link below provides more information on the follies that turned humanity’s cheapest electricity source into its most expensive.

    http://www.phyast.pitt.edu/~blc/book/chapter9.html

  38. Antius on Sun, 25th Feb 2018 5:08 pm 

    “Now there is a work-around, namely to reprocess spent fuel.”

    The French have been doing this for quite a while and have the cheapest electricity in western Europe.

    In a sense, all nuclear reactors are already breeder reactors. In the new EPR for example, about one third of the energy produced by the fuel will come from fission of plutonium bred within the core.

    The travelling wave fuel cycle will not require any reprocessing, aside from that needed for the first core loaded into the reactor. After that, all new fuel will be natural or depleted uranium with fissile plutonium bred and burned as fuel elements are slowly shuffled towards the interior of the core. About 40% atom percent of the uranium undergoes fission by the time the fuel discharges. That is about 80 times more than LEU.

    “The disadvantages are well-known:

    1. storage problem
    2. proliferation of nuclear weapons
    3. meltdown risk (Fukushima, Chernobyl, Three Miles Island). If it goes wrong, it really goes wrong.

    In short, even if the nuclear industry would have any technological and financial merit, it still has a gigantic PR-problem, although it diverges from country to country, with Britain, France and Russia more and most other countries less nuclear-minded. Usually the countries that are pro, also have a nuclear weapons program.”

    Human psychology and PR are what they are. But even with the risk of nuclear meltdowns this technology is less dangerous than fossil fuels. We tend to imagine radiation to be more dangerous than it actually is.

    As or nuclear weapons programs, I would point out that Japan and South Korea have plentiful nuclear power, but neither have nuclear weapons programmes. North Korea and Pakistan, have little or no nuclear power plants, but have developed nuclear weapons. The US developed enough nuclear weaponry to destroy the planet decades before it had large scale domestic nuclear power. If nations decide to develop these things, they will do so with or without nuclear power plants. What’s more, the North Koreans aren’t going to stop developing nuclear weapons just because the Germans and Japanese decide to phase out nuclear energy as an electricity source.

  39. Simon on Mon, 26th Feb 2018 2:25 am 

    Hi Antius

    It takes an act of parliament or congress for a nuclear power plant to be granted planning stage. An absurd situation that isn’t the case for other energy sources.

    I would agree, if there were not legal exceptions for Nuclear power (case in point being insurance caps, then there is waste storage etc etc), you cannot have your cake and eat it.

    The build process itself is convoluted, with long delays between build stages to allow for inspections that add little value but increase costs.

    This is the kinda fuzzy area, you are basically repeating that regulations are costing you money, but not stating which ones.

    Following completion of a powerplant, it can take 3-10 years to get an operating licence from the NRC in the states.

    10 years is a bit extreme, but 3 years I can see, as a CCGT takes coming up to that time after completion to pass all its test and start selling. Also with Nuk. you are dumping a shed load of leccy onto the grid in one spot, you need to be damn sure that the grid can take this, a whole lot different to a 10mw wind farm.

    Simon

  40. Seaharvester on Tue, 27th Feb 2018 5:07 pm 

    Everything in the nuclear industry must leave a paper trail. For every nuclear worker actually doing something, several are either waiting for paperwork to be done or engaged in paper pushing,or watching the worker that is actually doing something. If you actually are doing something physical on a plant got side, you should not sweat, as damp skin can hold dust. There will be plenty of people watching you to remind you. The more potential for radiation, the more inspectors (usually highly paid rad techs will be assigned to inspect your work as you try to accomplish it. Say you are routinely replacing a filter in containment. You will need to submit paperwork reflecting your plan, the path you will take to get to the filter, etc etc, wait for approval, upon approval do the work with approved tools at a specific time, with an inspector watching you. You must finish within the time specified. If you happen to notice a loose but that is not a part of the plan, everywhere else you just tighten it with the wrench in your hand, but not in nuclear work. The process will start over for the unexpected nut, even if ( as it likely will) it costs the plant a couple thousand to tighten the nut. Nuclear work is extremely rigid and rule bound. There are many examples much worse than th is. Another thing that happens is a lot of things that show only background radiation are disposed of as low level waste because the paperwork burden and burden of decontamination proxcedures is considered too high to do otherwise.Low level waste costs several hundred dollars per pound in disposal fees.
    Rubber gloves, disposable socks, etc used in countainment are routinely called low level waste. Even employee urine can be disposed of as low level waste when there is no more than background rad present. It is such a waste (no pun intended).

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *