[PLUG-TALK] Risk of earthquake based nuclear problems in USA

Russell Senior seniorr at aracnet.com
Sat Mar 19 17:36:29 PDT 2011

>>>>> "Michael" == Michael Rasmussen <michael at jamhome.us> writes:

Denis> You (or anybody) have access to the entire list?  It would be
Denis> interesting to assume events are independent add compute the
Denis> likelihood of at least one event in the U.S. per year.
Michael> Why assume the events are independent?  

You can't assume events are independent.  Events capable of generating
failures tend to be highly correlated.  Look at the home loan
situation.  The risk estimates were all based on the probability of
individual mortgages defaulting when there was no systemic event
occurring.  However it turns out that when a bunch of people have
defaulted, the probability of the next guy defaulting is higher.
There are cascading failures.  

Nuke plants suffer from a substantial risk of failure, sometimes with
dire consequences, when they lose power.  Events demonstrate that it
is quite likely that onsite power is susceptible to correlated failure
of external power.  Power is needed to cool reactors after a shutdown.
Solve *that* problem, and you reduce the risk of the dire

I'm all for global risk analysis.  The problem is, when people
responsible are insulated from the true costs in case of failure, then
they don't have a financial incentive to assess global risk.  They can
disregard the external costs and pocket the difference.  That's called
socializing risk and privatizing benefits.  Colocating risks and
benefits is going to lead to better decisions.

The other factor with nuclear power is cost.  In France where nuclear
power makes up the bulk (>75%) of the generation, residential
electricity rates are about $0.15/kW-hr, where rates are about
$0.085/kW-hr here.

Russell Senior         ``I have nine fingers; you have ten.''
seniorr at aracnet.com

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