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Power Earth

Rising Sea Level Could Put East Coast Nuclear Plants At Risk 323

mdsolar (1045926) writes with news that global warming may make it more difficult to use modern power sources that rely upon being near large bodies of water for cooling. From the article: "During the 1970s and 1980s, when many nuclear reactors were first built, most operators estimated that seas would rise at a slow, constant rate. ... But the seas are now rising much faster than they did in the past ... Sea levels rose an average of 8 inches between 1880 and 2009, or about 0.06 inches per year. But in the last 20 years, sea levels have risen an average of 0.13 inches per year... NOAA) has laid out four different projections for estimated sea level rise by 2100. Even the agency's best-case scenario assumes that sea levels will rise at least 8.4 inches by the end of this century. NOAA's worst-case scenario, meanwhile, predicts that the oceans will rise nearly 7 feet in the next 86 years. But most nuclear power facilities were built well before scientists understood just how high sea levels might rise in the future. And for power plants, the most serious threat is likely to come from surges during storms. Higher sea levels mean that flooding will travel farther inland, creating potential hazards in areas that may have previously been considered safe." The article has charts comparing the current elevation of various plants with their estimated elevations under the various NOAA sea level rise estimates.
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Rising Sea Level Could Put East Coast Nuclear Plants At Risk

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  • obsolete (Score:5, Interesting)

    by stenvar (2789879) on Monday May 19, 2014 @11:49PM (#47043877)

    The idea that these nuclear power plants are still relevant in 86 years should scare people more than any sea level rise. All those nuclear power plants are completely obsolete. If they need to be torn down and rebuilt elsewhere with new, safer, more efficient technology, we're all better off.

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Anonymous Coward

      because we have such a great record in actually decommisioning sites to the extent where they are allowed to get flooded...

      Even after the site is decommissioned, the site is still a mess. It needs to remain quarantined for tens (hundreds?!) of years beyond when things are dismantled and you've got to make sure that storm surges aren't sloshing through the area for that time too.

      Just ask the British how their decommissioning program is going... (Hint: it sounds a lot like "Oh my, what a mess, can we talk abo

      • by nojayuk (567177)

        you're lying, or maybe you're just ignorant or you got your "information" from bullshit anti-nuclear blogs and such, but...

        a) nuclear power reactors are decommissioned to "greenfield" status, that is the land is fit to grow crops on afterwards. It's a lot more work than brownfield where the ground will be repurposed for industry but it's a cost the nuclear industry has to bear unlike, say, coal mining.

        No a nuclear site doesn't need to be quarantined for "hundreds of years". Heck, even after Chernobyl burne

    • by SeaFox (739806)

      If they need to be torn down and rebuilt elsewhere with new, safer, more efficient technology, we're all better off.

      You say that like decommissioning a nuclear power plant and moving it wouldn't take the better half of a century.

      • by stenvar (2789879)

        It's unfortunate that there really isn't a threat of impending flooding and disaster; maybe if there were, it would spur the bureaucrats and "environmentalists" into action. Causing a bit of sea level rise would be worth it just for that.

        In any case, decommissioned or not, these plants won't be producing power anymore in 30 years, let alone 80 years.

        • by SeaFox (739806)

          It's unfortunate that there really isn't a threat of impending flooding and disaster...

          But there is. If it's predicted that the sea level will rise this much by the end of the century, and given how log it's going to take to actually shut down and clear a nuclear power plant site to a level it's safe to let it flood, the time to start is now for those plants we believe to be effected by such a oceanic rise.

          No action is being taken because the people responsible don't look out that far in the future. Like every other environmental issue that has appeared for the last half-century, the folk jus

          • by stenvar (2789879)

            But there is. If it's predicted that the sea level will rise this much by the end of the century, and given how log it's going to take to actually shut down and clear a nuclear power plant site to a level it's safe to let it flood, the time to start is now for those plants we believe to be effected by such a oceanic rise.

            The obstacles to decommissioning a nuclear power plant are entirely administrative; you treat them like laws of nature. That's what makes your alarmism so ridiculous even if the predictions

  • by TheRealHocusLocus (2319802) on Tuesday May 20, 2014 @12:26AM (#47043993)

    I am a fan of both Anthony Watts' site Watts Up With That [] *AND* John Cook's Skeptical Science []... both are run by real people who go the extra distance find the best links to their sources (not some blog chain) and both are considerate of the reader.

    Here's a small research journey: Direct CO2 rise causes temperature rise (CO2drivesT)? YES or NO?

    There has been a demonstrated correlation between CO2 and temperature shown by Antarctic ice core data (within ~800-1000y). If a rise of CO2 in this data should consistently lag behind rises in temperature then CO2drivesT is not ruled out (both may be responding to some other factor but at different rates) BUT CO2drivesT has fallen down a notch... it now requires more extraordinary proof.

    Even though human-driven global CO2 has risen 'terrifyingly fast' to 400ppm -- empirically speaking I am not terrified -- because the temperature rise that should accompany such a SHOCK by any reasonable interpretation of CO2drivesT, and to any reasonable extent, has not arisen. The effects of this 'causation' are missing.

    Which is to say the historical correlation is broken.
    That is not necessarily a bad thing. It's a thing,
    Something we should be concerned about.
    The rise to 400ppm is definitely humans' fault. It is 'massive'.
    Temperature has not risen.
    So such a causation, if any may exist, is unlikely to be significant.
    We'd see it by now.

    For example, head for Skeptical Science [SS] [SS] CO2 lags temperature - what does it mean [] which acknowledges that CO2 lags behind temperature but introduces 'CO2 amplification' which asserts a feedback where "the increased CO2 in the atmosphere amplifies the original warming.". This in itself is another extraordinary claim. While such a feedback might certainly exist I cannot just swallow it as a flat-fact when pursuing a simple answer to the CO2drivesT question. Where are the computer models incorporating this feedback that match observed temperature?

    There is a stir these days among CO2drivesT proponents that some mechanism must exist that is hiding or delaying the warming that the models predict. Immature 'skeptics' jeer at this, implying that it is all about protecting the sacred forced-feedback hypothesis at any cost. Immature CO2drivesT proponents accuse them of attempting to derail the scientific method. There is a germ of truth in both. I think everyone should grow up a little.

    Aside from the modern lack of warming, one thing seemed odd about amplification. In the Vostok ice core CO2+T [] graph clearly at ~75,000YA there is a massive injection of CO2 (~225-230ppm) that I think is Toba era volcanism []. If such amplification exists and is significant, that would have been a fine time for CO2 feedback to jump in and 'save the day' with a slowing or a plateau of the declining temperature trend. Or even a rise? But 6,000 years after its onset -- on the Vostok graph at ~220ppm temperature and CO2 are once again in lock-step, both in steep decline. After some six millennia of 'higher' CO2 and 'lower' temperature. Plenty of time for particulates to settle and 'amplification' to occur. If it does. Did it?

    But never mind, it's all changed, that [SS] Lag, what does it mean? [] page also said something astounding: "In fact, about 90% of the global warming followed the CO2 increase." 90%... is that a fact.

    Since when?

    Which led me to the next step where the game-changer is supposed to be [SS] Shakun et al. Clarify th []

    • If CO2 is following temperature, what is your explanation for the fact that CO2 is now at a milion-year record high ?
    • by ideonexus (1257332) on Tuesday May 20, 2014 @05:11AM (#47044765) Homepage Journal

      If you're interested in the science of Anthropogenic Global Warming, I suggest you read the science, not blog posts. I've read both WattsUp and SkepticalScience, and they are both very poorly written and lack rigorousness. If you are reading these two blogs, you are reading the work of bias amateurs.

      Here's what you should be reading:

      • the peer-reviewed Journal "Nature Climate Change []," which includes and references thousands of scientific papers on the subject.
      • he IPCC's 1,500-page "Physical Science Basis []" report, clearly states what we know, don't know, and how we know it. It reviews its past predictions, notes where its models have errored, and takes into account an incredible wealth and scope of scientific observations over 150 years. I highly recommend downloading this 0.5 GIG report and at least skimming it. I consider it the model of good science [].
      • The IPCC also makes all of its data and models available for review []. So you can see for yourself. Take this data and give it to a machine-learning algorithm. The science of AGW is actually shockingly simple.
      • The US Government also recently updated it regularly scheduled report [] written by over 300 experts.
      • If you don't trust the government, then I recommend The Berkely Earth Project []. It was funded by the liberal's favorite bad guys, the Koch Brothers, but its results were so compelling that the lead Climatologist, Richard A. Muller, wrote a piece for the New York Times announcing he no longer a skeptic [].
      • Of course, it's always good to have a contrarian viewpoint in the mix, and for that, I recommend AGW skeptic Judith Curry [], who presents valid challenges to the consensus with her strong scientific background. I don't find her convincing, but her challenges make for good food for thought.

      Science, published peer-reviewed science, not blogs, is where we should keep this discussion.

    • by tota (139982)
      You claim that both are run by real people who go the extra distance find the best links to their sources, and blatantly they're not.
      It is well known in climate circles for being written by a former TV weatherman, and regularly "falls" for basic mistakes like muddying weather and climate, shifting the goalposts, referring to "climategate" despite the fact that the results have been vindicated again and again. And politics, don't forget money and politics: if the statistics don't go your way, cherry pick t
    • by argStyopa (232550)

      That's a terrific and well-documented analysis.

      Of course, you understand that you're arguing religion - the remaining individuals whose mind might be converted by evidence is a vanishingly small %.

      But your effort is sincerely appreciated. All we can do is keep telling the truth.

  • by Animats (122034) on Tuesday May 20, 2014 @01:10AM (#47044087) Homepage

    The US areas that are in trouble are mostly the Gulf coast, especially the Mississippi River flood plain and Florida. Florida is just barely above sea level now, and is very flat.

    Slight rises in sea level cause problems all along the Mississippi. Hurricane and storm driven flooding are already getting worse.

    The West Coast isn't so bad off, because there are cliffs along most of it. SF, LA and San Diego do have low spots, but they're a few miles long, and seawalls could be built. It might be necessary to dam the SF bay, with something like the Thames Barrage at the Golden Gate.

  • by tlambert (566799) on Tuesday May 20, 2014 @04:28AM (#47044649)

    If only (Holland) some country (Holland) could come up with a way (Holland) so that areas (60% of the population of Holland) could remain viable (half of Holland's land area) in the face of (dikes in Holland) rising sea levels (Holland) so that we didn't (Holland) have to worry about this (Holland).

    Doesn't the necessary (Holland) expertise (Holland) exist anywhere on Earth (Holland)?

    • And I'm sure Holland's coastline is the same length as the USA's.
      • by swillden (191260)

        And I'm sure Holland's coastline is the same length as the USA's.

        That's irrelevant.

        What matters is the ratio of coastal area to be protected (which isn't the same as all coastline) to the economic resources available to protect it. The US has 44 times as much coastline as the Netherlands, but it's GDP is also 20 times larger. Considering that much of the US coastline is relatively sparsely settled, and can simply be allowed to move inland, displacing a few people, and that some other portions of the coast are steep and can take the rising water, we can handle the 2X d

  • More Than Nukes (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Jim Sadler (3430529) on Tuesday May 20, 2014 @08:15AM (#47045477)
    South Florida has a population of greater than 6 million. Not only do we have nukes right on the beach we also have garbage mountains, graveyards that go back 150 years, chemical wells, and every other pollutant that a city tends to have. All of this is less than five feet above sea level. Most of it may be only two feet above sea level. The topography is such that the area will flood from the Atlantic all the way to the Gulf of Mexico. The region will not be habitable inland or on the coasts. Keep in mind we get high tides, spring tides, and hurricanes with surges as well as very tall waves. In other words a house on stilts would not help. Houseboats would have about a two year life span as tropical storms are common. So what you may say. Who gives a hoot about South Florida? the catch is that the pollution that would take place may well be enough to destroy the Atlantic ocean completely. South Florida also produces fruit and vegetables even in winter and there is no other part of the continental US that does that. On top of that the investment and mortgage value of south Florida is on a scale large enough to completely destroy the US economy if we go under.
  • by mdsolar (1045926) on Tuesday May 20, 2014 @08:51AM (#47045727) Homepage Journal
    The NRC is responding to a court order to show that the nuclear waste issue is under control. They are trying to claim that it can be stored for a long long time at nuclear power plants. It seems pretty clear that climate change makes that claim false in some cases.
  • by mdsolar (1045926) on Tuesday May 20, 2014 @09:04AM (#47045823) Homepage Journal
    One of the most severely affected plants is Turkey Point, yet Florida just approved and expansions. [] Why new power would be needed when the customer base is eroding hard to fathom. []

The fancy is indeed no other than a mode of memory emancipated from the order of space and time. -- Samuel Taylor Coleridge