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Is Big Science Dead - National Ignition Facility Edition

bobbymike

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Fusion Program Confronted With Technical Problems
Monday, June 27, 2011

An expensive U.S. effort to achieve nuclear fusion ignition is contending with emerging technical challenges, as well as worries among activists that laboratory experiments could expose scientists to potentially lethal doses of radiation, the New York Times reported on Friday (see GSN, Oct. 7, 2010). The $3.5 billion National Ignition Facility at Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory in California has long been criticized for its enormous cost and unrealistic aims, according to the Times. If the ignition project's aims are achieved, it could help support federal efforts to maintain the U.S. nuclear arsenal.
Hurdles for the project to surmount include the unforeseen existence of tiny flecks that obstruct sensitive molecular filters intended to keep radioactive tritium particles from leaving the facility. The filters are so tiny that other atoms get trapped in them, requiring laboratory personnel to often enter the experiment room to replace the compromised filters. Officials have suggested allowing more tritium to gather in the filters before they are changed or doing away with the filters for certain trials and releasing the tritium molecules into the atmosphere.
Program representatives contend the threat of radiation harm to local residents and laboratory scientists who are not working in the ignition facility would be minor. However, under an extreme scenario contained in a preliminary environmental analysis, an average of one researcher taking part in the ignition project could die from radiation-induced cancer nearly every two decades.
The citizens group Tri-Valley CAREs has said the Energy Department's semiautonomous National Nuclear Security Agency should not consider raising the ceiling on the amount of radiation that is acceptable for the project to generate.
"There is no safe level of exposure," Tri-Valley CAREs Executive Director Marylia Kelley said.
Energy Department officials say that the tritium released would be substantially less than amounts that the Environmental Protection Agency allows.
The watchdog group, though, argues that a long track record of tritium emissions and incidents at the Livermore laboratory have resulted in an increase in radiation levels in local food, water, wine and honey.
"When tritium gets into the environment and it's on top of radiation being released from other parts of the laboratory, it potentially increases the dose and potentially increases the risk," Kelley said (John Upton, New York Times, June 24).
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Many times of this forum people have asked, "why do we not do do "big" anymore?" I have bolded several words notice how opponents use could or potentially. This purposeful ambiguity is meant to stop research and human advancement because it is of course impossible to declare that something will have NO EFFECTS whatsoever. So exposure to tritium might cause a single scientist to die every 20 years.
I'm all for taking caution and making sure things are safe but life has risks. In today's world we would have never left the cave or developed fire, "Sure that fire is warm, keeps the predators away and keeps us alive in winter but the smoke it gives off could be unhealthy." ;)
 

starviking

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bobbymike said:
"There is no safe level of exposure," Tri-Valley CAREs Executive Director Marylia Kelley said.

And I'll bet she provided no scientific references to back up her statement.
 

Dragon029

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There is no safe level of exposure.

Damn, where does she want to live, a lead bunker? I wonder whether she presses the keys on her computer with a long rod as well.
 

Lauge

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Dragon029 said:
Damn, where does she want to live, a lead bunker?

No way! Lead is poisonous, and a bunker is liable to collapse if e.g. struck by a medium-to-large meteorite.

Regards & all,

Thomas L. Nielsen
Luxembourg
 

pathology_doc

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Traitors to the human race, the lot of them.

Find an uninhabited island and put them ashore. They can then live the life they wish, while we enjoy clean fusion energy from seawater, towed-in comets, etc. etc. and ultimately expand into space while they rot on Earth.
 

bobbymike

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Of course you have to find "the key phrase" in the article to try and understand why such opposition to important technologies that could lead the way to fusion power. It is of course:

"If the ignition project's aims are achieved, it could help support federal efforts to maintain the U.S. nuclear arsenal."

Replace this line with, "......project's aims to replace the internal combustion engine and destroy the capitalist system...." :D then no problem.
 

Michel Van

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In Europe are similar problems with "International Thermonuclear Experimental Reactor" http://de.wikipedia.org/wiki/Iter
Technical problems, build delays caused cost overruns
in 2009 estimate was under € 10 billion.
now cost run on € 16 billion and final cost are estimate over € 20 billion.

and the quadruplicate fission reactor disaster of Fukoshima made things more terrible
with "phasing out nuclear energy" now a political fact
the Europe anti-nuclear movement look and found a new enemy: ITER
the German "Die Grünen" (Green Party) now on high of there popularity,
Demand that German finacing of ITER not cut, but immediate to stop !
 

starviking

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Michel Van said:
In Europe are similar problems with "International Thermonuclear Experimental Reactor" http://de.wikipedia.org/wiki/Iter
Technical problems, build delays caused cost overruns
in 2009 estimate was under € 10 billion.
now cost run on € 16 billion and final cost are estimate over € 20 billion.

and the quadruplicate fission reactor disaster of Fukoshima made things more terrible
with "phasing out nuclear energy" now a political fact
the Europe anti-nuclear movement look and found a new enemy: ITER
the German "Die Grünen" (Green Party) now on high of there popularity,
Demand that German finacing of ITER not cut, but immediate to stop !

To be blunt - if the German Greens manage this, they should be denied all access to therapeutic and diagnostic radiography - whilst it could save their lives someday, it's nuclear...
 

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