Bob Higgins

The More You Watch, the Worse You Feel / Marty Kaplan

Victor VasarelyBy Marty Kaplan / Huffington Post

As if the triple whammy of the Japanese earthquake, tsunami and nuclear disaster weren’t enough to enthrall and terrify us, the war in Libya is now providing cable news viewers a fresh hell to follow 24/7.

But wait, as they say in the infomercials — there’s more. In Bahrain, Saudi tanks and troops are violently cracking down on pro-democracy activists; in Egypt, the Muslim Brotherhood is moving toward power; in Yemen, security forces, firing from the rooftops, have killed scores of demonstrators; in Syria, troops are shooting into crowds of protesting civilians; and last week’s news from Israel and the Palestinian territories was enough to make anyone rage and wail.

Feeling overwhelmed yet? In Madison, Wisc. and other state capitals, Republicans are demonizing public employees, stripping workers of their rights and using deficits as an excuse to transfer wealth from the middle to the top. In Washington, D.C., every Republican on the environment subcommittee says that climate change is a hoax, and every Republican on the financial institutions subcommittee says banks are the victims, not the perpetrators, of the recession. Who has enough spare neurons to cope with that, let alone the defunding of NPR and Planned Parenthood? Do you have some mindshare left for a campaign finance system that’s corrupting both political parties? For the obesity epidemic? For the worst youth unemployment in history?

Read more: Marty Kaplan/The More You Watch, the Worse You Feel. (more…)

Nuclear Power Reactors In The United States And A Few Words On A Way Out

Posted in Environment, History, Nuclear Power, Politics, Science by Bob Higgins on March 17, 2011
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We continue to throw great piles of money down the bottomless pit of energy subsidies for already obscenely flush corporatio­­ns in the oil, gas and nuclear industries­­; are we insane or just stupid?

Why don’t we take at least half of that, say 25 billion annually and start a crash program for the rapid developmen­­t and installati­­on of renewables like solar, wind, tidal, current, wave and other emerging technologi­­es like biofuels from non food and waste sources.

The Manhattan Project was completed in four years for 2 billion. Adjust that number for today’s dollars and take it back from the energy criminals that we’ve allowed to push us around for so long and make them pay for the technology that will put them out of business.

We simply need to stop making excuses for inaction, fossil fuels are killing us, nuclear is showing itself as enormously expensive and unmanageab­­le and likely to kill us even faster and the whole mess is killing the planet on which we should be relaxing and enjoying this little hayride around the Sun.

A Manhattan Project for making a major portion of the shift to clean renewable fuels could probably get us half way home in 5 to 10 years, perhaps faster.

We lack nothing but the will, something we had in 1942.

Bob Higgins

Related stories:
U.S. Nuclear Power Plants Had 14 ‘Near-Miss’ Problems In 2010: UCS Report (PHOTOS)
Questions about reactors in U.S. resonating louder
How vulnerable are U.S. nuclear plants?

The remaining material on this page is from the NRC website

Boiling Water Reactors

In a typical commercial boiling-water reactor, (1) the core inside the reactor vessel creates heat, (2) a steam-water mixture is produced when very pure water (reactor coolant) moves upward through the core, absorbing heat, (3) the steam-water mixture leaves the top of the core and enters the two stages of moisture separation where water droplets are removed before the steam is allowed to enter the steam line, and (4) the steam line directs the steam to the main turbine, causing it to turn the turbine generator, which produces electricity. The unused steam is exhausted in to the condenser where it condensed into water. The resulting water is pumped out of the condenser with a series of pumps, reheated and pumped back to the reactor vessel. The reactor’s core contains fuel assemblies that are cooled by water circulated using electrically powered pumps. These pumps and other operating systems in the plant receive their power from the electrical grid. If offsite power is lost emergency cooling water is supplied by other pumps, which can be powered by onsite diesel generators. Other safety systems, such as the containment cooling system, also need electric power. Boiling-water reactor’s contain between 370-800 fuel assemblies. See also our animated diagram and pdf file of generic diagrams that detail elements of the boiling-water reactors.

Boiling Water Reactor (BWR) (more…)