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Energy Dept. Cancels Deep Borehole Field Test

The Department of Energy announced this morning that it is cancelling the Deep Borehole Field Test due to “changes in budget priorities.”

So guess who gets credit? The Boorhole-in-Chief:

Rep. Kristi Noem, South Dakota’s lone representative in the U.S. House, praised the decision, citing “significant concerns” from Spink and Haakon county residents.

“Like many South Dakotans in Spink and Haakon counties, I was deeply concerned about doing testing in our backyard to determine whether deep boreholes could store nuclear waste,” Noem said in a news release. “I am grateful to the Trump administration for hearing the concerns raised by these communities and subsequently withdrawing consideration of this proposal” [“DOE Revokes Deep Borehole Field Test Proposal,” Rapid City Journal, 2017.05.23].

Trump administration cancels a reasonable scientific experiment that would help get dispose of some of the military nuclear waste that Trump wants to make more of and dump in a less environmentally stable facility—yeah, sure, Kristi, you go ahead and praise Trump for that.


  1. grudznick 2017-05-23 17:34

    Disappointing. Disappointing that Mr. Trump turns out to be the best friend of the tree huggers and an enemy of Science.

    I expect The Borehole will still get dug at some point, by some Scientists.

  2. mike from iowa 2017-05-23 17:57

    I can see why this was called a bore hole. Only a scientist could love jaw jacking constantly about deep small holes in the rocks.

  3. Robert McTaggart 2017-05-23 18:27

    Boreholes are not the present administration’s idea, so it is easier to cut out of a budget.

    Once again we pretend that we can kick the can down the road regarding nuclear waste. And that safer solutions will magically appear without a lot of research behind them.

    Ignoring the problem apparently is simply much easier than actually solving it.

  4. grudznick 2017-05-23 18:34

    That is the libbie way, Dr. McTaggart. It is a shame Mr. Trump was swayed by the tinfoil hat environmentalist crowd. Somebody surely still has the really straight borehole digging machine, right? Let us hope they keep it oiled and covered with a tarp in a clean place until Science once again reigns.

    I note Mr. Trump also cut NASA’s educational outreach. I bet the libbies hate that one.

  5. Robert McTaggart 2017-05-23 18:43

    The best hope for the defense wastes at the moment is that they are ultimately stored permanently in a Yucca Mountain like facility instead. Keeping them at surface facilities is not a solution when those facilities age and we don’t replace them or update them accordingly.

    It is unclear if transmutation of the defense wastes has ever been contemplated to this point. The idea would be to break up the strontium or cesium into lighter isotopes that have shorter half-lives by placing them next to a reactor or an accelerator.

  6. grudznick 2017-05-23 18:48

    What about the possibilities now, Dr. McT, of using those Vivos tanks down there by Edgemont for storing these wastes? I am certain the whole prepper community is going to fail. Or are those not like mini Yucca Mountains but more like just big garages more useful to store uranium mining wastes than spent nuclear wastes?

  7. Robert McTaggart 2017-05-23 18:52

    Well grudznick, ignoring problems and not solving them is a political tactic used by both liberals and conservatives :^).

  8. Robert McTaggart 2017-05-23 18:56

    Ha! I don’t think those vivos structures will work. In particular you have to transport wastes and then isolate the entire container. Not sure a vivos could take a missile strike and keep the waste contained either.

  9. Robert McTaggart 2017-05-23 19:07

    It is unfortunate that the present attempts at a consent-based process did not generate a solution…or more accurately did not allow for the research necessary to generate a solution.

    The alternative to a consent-based process will not be desirable for sites like Yucca Mountain. There are some that are fixated on Yucca Mountain because of the opposition by Harry Reid, instead of being open to the possibility that other locations may be more feasible and that such facilities can be well-engineered for safety.

  10. Buckobear 2017-05-23 19:17

    Of course they cancelled it. They weren’t able to figure out how to graft a buck off of it.

  11. Cory Allen Heidelberger Post author | 2017-05-23 19:17

    Ignoring problems? Try not even recognizing problems. This Administration is not governing. The Trump Budget is an unworkable, double-counting joke.

    I agree with Dr. McTaggart on the Vivos tanks—either go deep or go to the Sun (with space elevators past geosynchronous orbit, not exploding rockets).

    Grudz, you are right that I’m mad about NASA cuts, but not for “libbie” reasons. As a pro-life conservative, I want to protect the status quo—specifically, the existence of the human race. I want NASA scanning the Earth with lots of satellites to get all the data they can about the health of this planet. I want NASA sending all sorts of astronauts and other experts to the schools to help kids learn about our planet and inspire them to do science. And I want NASA going to the Moon, Mars, Europa, Titan, Pluto, Proxima Centauri, and anyplace else we might feasibly put up a dome and a nuclear reactor to diversify our habitat and increase homo sapiens’ chance of survival. I was at least hoping that Trump would hitch his ego to some wild space mission to exceed Kennedy’s unique place in the space history books, but he appears to lack the knowledge and foresight to put together a basic long-term plan for promoting science, engineering, and space exploration.

    I wonder if the Deep Borehole Field Test would help us develop technology that would make it easier for Mars colonists to drill for geothermal energy (or should I say areothermal)?.

  12. Troy 2017-05-23 19:22


    In your previous posts, you were against the borehole. Now you criticize Trump for cancelling it? Seems partisan.

  13. Adam 2017-05-23 19:26

    Republicans voted for small government and so South Dakota gets less Federal funding.

    Rural state conservatives shoot themselves in the foot every time they vote as if they don’t need that damn federal government for anything. And then they blame the liberals for all their problems (thereby eating the poopoo).

  14. Cory Allen Heidelberger Post author | 2017-05-23 19:29

    Troy, I wish to respond carefully. Please identify the post(s) in which I (not my vociferous commenters, but I) declare my opposition to the borehole project.

  15. Troy 2017-05-23 19:38

    If you say I’m conflating your views with your commenters, I’m sure I am. Sorry for the mistake.

  16. Robert McTaggart 2017-05-23 19:43


    Generally speaking Mars is the limit of using solar/chemical means of energy/propulsion. Past that you either need nuclear for the energy, or solar sails for propulsion, or much larger reflective surface areas to collect solar energy.

    I agree with Cory that NASA can be a vehicle for developing a lot of new technologies, and in fact has been such a vehicle to this point. All the precision agriculture done today would not be possible without satellite technology. Much of the work regarding sustainability is necessary for long space flights.

    That is a secret of big science like NASA. You cannot say in advance what benefits will occur, when they will occur, nor what economic impact they will have. But big science is an environment that spawns innovative solutions and leads to new products or techniques that we use every day.

  17. grudznick 2017-05-23 19:48

    Mr. Jones, I have seen Mr. H post pro-science bloggings and also point out repeatedly to his readers who could not comprehend that The Borehole was not being dug to put wastes into. Mr. H pointed that out repeatedly.

  18. Cory Allen Heidelberger Post author | 2017-05-23 19:53

    I just want to make sure I’m not slipping, Troy. I expressed caution about the project, and I expressed support for the idea of engaging the community and letting voters decide if the project was welcome. I welcome correction, but I’m pretty sure my past statements on the Borehole are consistent with saying that praising Trump for cancelling it (a) overstates any active knowledge or understanding Trump has of the project and (b) shows Noem currying favor with an anti-science White House.

  19. Robert McTaggart 2017-05-23 20:10

    The good news is that Trump cannot pass his own budget by himself, so I doubt the final version will look the same. There are people on both sides of the aisle that value long-term investments like scientific research.

  20. Adam 2017-05-23 20:51

    I am only seeing folks on one side of the isle who give a crap for science. Just look at all the Global Warming deniers out there – just a bunch of Republicans who think Al Gore and the Chinese are still raking in the money on this great scam.

    Seriously, and look at the crazy BS they believed in when they voted for Trump. Yup, these people are the enemy of progress and common sense. Everyone else is generally on the right track.

  21. Robert McTaggart 2017-05-23 20:58

    “$6.5 billion for Environmental Management to address the legal and moral obligations to clean up the Nation’s nuclear legacy following World War II and the Cold War.”

    Not sure what that means exactly for their plans regarding defense wastes, or if that is for refurbishing existing facilities or remediation of various sites.

    They are also proposing $1.8 billion for nuclear non-proliferation activities….and $1.6 billion for the Wall.

  22. leslie 2017-05-23 21:03

    hahahahah-kristie certainly is gubernatorial. thank you trump. well doc, so much for respec, regents, kenner and heather baby.

    republicans are gonna try to stick harry reid. thats never gonna happen. harry knows how to lead. harry has values and ethics and experience. Nevada has probably had enough of the industrial/military miracle of nuclear power [w/o out any adequate timely waste disposal plan. :)

    p.s. I love good science

  23. Robert McTaggart 2017-05-23 21:04

    Adam, the problem is that elected officials like being re-elected. Which means taking positions that facilitate re-election, or more importantly funding for said re-election.

  24. Robert McTaggart 2017-05-23 21:16

    Hi leslie,

    The opposition in Nevada has little to do with nuclear power, but a lot more to do with legacy nuclear weapons testing that occurred in Nevada.

    Depending upon who you talk to, we were more concerned about winning WWII and the Cold War with nuclear weapons superiority than what to do with the wastes. It’s not like anyone is really willing to go back in time and lose to Japan/Germany and later the Soviet Union or be subject to a nuclear strike. But now we should deal with the wastes finally.

  25. Robert McTaggart 2017-05-23 21:27

    South Dakota U.S. Sen. John Thune expressed similar sentiments in a written statement, saying he understood why residents of Haakon County and the surrounding area were concerned, “and am glad to see the Trump administration, in the wake of strong public opposition, has decided to end it.”

    A spokesman for South Dakota Gov. Dennis Daugaard said in a statement that he didn’t object to the test as long as it wouldn’t have led to nuclear waste storage in South Dakota.

  26. Robert McTaggart 2017-05-23 21:50

    In theory there was a poll of registered voters of Haakon County being collected. I assume those results will not be released if they haven’t been by now.

  27. jerry 2017-05-23 22:01

    I wonder where NOem and Thune were during the citizen meetings in Redfield and Philip? I never saw one bit of email saying that the borehole was a bad idea. Not one. I did see the governor try to force the borehole onto the folks, but never ever did NOem or Thune say a peep to my knowledge. Anyone see any emails from these two regarding the borehole?

  28. Adam 2017-05-23 22:02

    “I didn’t come from no monkey!!!!!!!!”
    -Rural Voter #153865509

    Ever hear a city boy talk and think like that?

  29. Donald Pay 2017-05-23 22:13

    Well, I had a glass of wine, but let’s not celebrate too early.

    Borehole disposal had/has little, if any, support in the House of Representatives. Republicans on House committees were openly hostile to deep borehole disposal. These folks are now in charge, so it wasn’t going get into Mulvaney’s budget proposal.

    Deep borehole disposal has some recent support in a small enclave of Sandia Lab scientists and engineers. They kept the idea alive for years with small amounts of money and a pretty ingenious way of marketing itself to academic scientists.

    Before Moniz was Obama’s Sec. of Energy, he pushed the boreholes and separate disposal for commercial and defense wastes when he was on Obama’s Blue Ribbon Commission. What I’ve heard from Washington insiders is that Moniz was the only person on that Commission who was committed to this approach. The others on the BRC went along on exploring the concept, but not necessarily in making it come about.

    When Moniz became Obama’s Sec. of Energy, he pushed the borehole project as far as he could without having to submit requests for large appropriations. He got Obama to sign off on a separate defense disposal option. If Trump wants to kill the boreholes for good, he’ll rescind Obama’s memorandum on that subject.

    The Republicans in the relevant committees in the House of Representatives think boreholes are a crazy option, a duplication that makes little sense. But they have a near religious hatred of anything not Yucca. That was because they wanted to shove it up Reid’s arse, not because of any science.

    Deep borehole disposal is not a new idea. Professor Gnirk (later at SDSM&T and RESPEC) did work in Sweden on this in the early 1970s. It’s just not a great idea for most nuclear waste, and it is duplicative of geologic disposal.

    My opinion is it’s a good decision, but there are a bunch of “bi-partisan” Senators who feel more kindly to boreholes. So, we’ll see what happens as budgets get hashed out.

  30. Robert McTaggart 2017-05-23 22:14


    I went to a borehole meeting in Fort Pierre. Thune was not there, but one of his staff was. Basically the message was they were going to stand behind what public wanted to do.

    The Governor has consistently been in favor of the borehole, as long as it had nothing to do with the delivery of nuclear waste.

  31. Robert McTaggart 2017-05-23 22:23


    I think it is fair to say that ultimately the borehole concept would win out if it could be shown to be cheaper and better than a Yucca Mountain like repository, but it is looking less likely that the requisite data to make such a conclusion is forthcoming any time soon.

    Ultimately containers need to be spread out more if they are hotter, because you want to avoid converting any groundwater into steam (which could be a vehicle for transporting radionuclides if there is ever a leak).

    If they must be spread out more, then more digging is necessary to make a larger volume underground, and the price tag goes up. So incorporating defense wastes probably would require some additional engineering and cost.

  32. Robert McTaggart 2017-05-23 22:37

    I wouldn’t say that borehole disposal is duplicative.

    Retrievability is much more difficult with borehole disposal if a community withdraws its consent or if recycling becomes more cost-effective. The former also means the waste contents are harder to get to for proliferation purposes or a direct attack.

    Due to retrievability issues I have been against borehole disposal for commercial wastes unless they first go through some type of process to reduce the waste and its radioactivity prior to what amounts to permanent isolation.

  33. Robert McTaggart 2017-05-23 23:22

    Just imagine the excitement when they have to dispose of such a large turbine after 20 years in a landfill….

  34. jerry 2017-05-23 23:27

    Indeed, all beer drinkers in the local pubs will be clanging for more pints made from a generator. In fact, the pub, we shall call it Paddy’s, will be having wind specials. Those happen when you drink to much Guinness without eating properly. Not to worry about what to do with aged turbines, melt them down and make beer cans or containers with them. Problem solved once again.

  35. Robert McTaggart 2017-05-23 23:38

    Some metals will be easier to recycle, but a lot of the turbine blades are made out of a composite to improve strength to weight ratios. Those are the primary issue with regard to recycling.

    Plus without recycling you must mine additional rare earth metals from China. Good luck with environmental regulations or reducing carbon footprint from their transport across the ocean. Apparently China doesn’t count when considering the environment.

  36. Robert McTaggart 2017-05-23 23:49

    “Although CW’s coverage of composites recycling dates back over a decade, informal statistics still show that only ~2% of composites-related companies are active recyclers. ”

    “Due to the increasing use of wind turbine blades made with carbon fiber, the quantity of waste from the wind industry has risen significantly.”

  37. grudznick 2017-05-23 23:51

    Mr. Pay drank pink wine, and I drank single malt scotch, followed by a proliferation of these fancy beers my granddaughter leaves for me, after learning of this news. Trump is now a tree hugger.

    We should all pay more attention to what Dr. McTaggart advises if we care for this planet that you all will live on for a while longer. Even Mr. Pay, who only approaches grudznick’s understanding of these issues, sees that The Borehole would have been good.

    Now we just bury our dead in a heap under some leaves and twigs and such. Down by Edgemont.

  38. Adam 2017-05-23 23:53

    Conserva-alternative-science at it’s very best-

    God proves that we live in a magical wonderland everyday. Everything is safe. Let’s just go ahead and start using all this wide open space for Canadian medical and industrial waste disposal because we can pay our teachers more and decrease our property taxes with the money Canada would pay us for doing it. Perhaps we could lead the country in waste disposal technologies! Think of all the research! and the jobs! and the money!

    I mean, heck, a lot of land is just sitting there.

  39. grudznick 2017-05-24 00:00

    The city of Philip is mourning, yet they are not smart enough to know it yet. Their economic savior would have been The Borehole. As Lead is rising from the rock dustings to become a City of Science, so could have Philip. Instead, there will be a poorly attended rodeo in June and a half dozen cars will stop by that single convenience store to get a soda while the old lady pees.

    And the mineral springs spring untapped, boiling the fish.
    All not #4Science

  40. grudznick 2017-05-24 00:08

    Mr. Adam, my good friend Bob told me that your God drowned in a bowl of cold cereal. If not, may it strike Bob mute and lame.

  41. Adam 2017-05-24 00:26

    Mr. Grudnick, what did you say about my momma?! LOL

  42. OldSarg 2017-05-24 06:27

    Yucca Mountain, started in 1978, has sucked $500,000,000 of money out of our wallets and still sits ready. Maybe instead of blaming Trump you should all look behind you for what is all ready available.

  43. Donald Pay 2017-05-24 07:34

    By duplicative, I mean that boreholes are only for certain defense-generated wastes. Commercial wastes from nuclear power plants cannot be disposed down boreholes.

    The next question will be: does consent-based siting survive the orange strongman. So far, the concept of consent-based siting hasn’t been junked, but some Republicans would rather use the power of the federal government to stick the waste wherever they can. It appears Republicans are going to not use consent-based siting in their attempts to open up Yucca Mountain. Once they have forced that on the people of Nevada, they will then be in a position to try to force another state to take the second repository or a storage facility. South Dakota could still be targeted for this.

  44. Robert McTaggart 2017-05-24 07:57

    I believe that Yucca could be a good location, but not necessarily the most optimal location. Salts are probably a better material to slowly encase the wastes and isolate them.

    The biggest challenge, and opportunity, for consent-based processes will be interim storage for removing wastes from shut-down power plants. Can they lead to successful and safe isolation of nuclear wastes? If they cannot….don’t be surprised if the alternative to consent-based processes occurs.

    If the interest is in protecting people and the environment, we will find a way to make it happen. If the interest is to stop anything related to nuclear regardless of the need to isolate the wastes or the science that shows it can be done safely, then consent-based processes will not work.

  45. Robert McTaggart 2017-05-24 08:21

    China and India are building more solar and wind generation, but they are also building more nuclear power plants. I wouldn’t call wind/solar advocates “climate cowards” like this guy does, but I would agree that if climate change is important to address, then nuclear needs to grow.

    That means we need to deal with the waste if we are going to generate more nuclear energy.

    Are solar and wind required to have a plan to recycle or store their wastes prior to siting a wind farm or a solar farm? If not, wouldn’t it be environmentally beneficial to do so?

  46. Robert McTaggart 2017-05-24 09:05

    They want to get off of fossil fuels, but they don’t want to keep paying to do that.

    “Danes have paid billions in taxes and fees to support wind turbines, which has caused electricity prices to skyrocket even as the price of actual electricity has decreased.”

  47. Robert McTaggart 2017-05-24 09:14

    Part of the solution may be to build many more smaller vertical turbines. Less stress on the turbine blades, maybe cheaper to build, easier to maintain (don’t have to go up as high). But the higher wind speeds (and therefore more energy…I think it goes as the square of the speed more or less) are found at greater heights.

  48. Adam 2017-05-24 09:40

    You conservatives are nuts with all your logic about how the Danes may have maxed out their wind capacity and your phony desire to redesign wind turbines to make them better are just as disengenuous as when you tried to make the rest of us believe Obama wasn’t born in America.

    You people are full of sh!t and you know it.

  49. Adam 2017-05-24 09:42

    Is there a Liberal equivalent to Alex Jones?

    McTaggert on nuclear, solar and wind power reminds me of Alex Jones for some reason.

  50. Adam 2017-05-24 11:44

    Limbaugh once told his massive legion of followers to believe that it takes electricity to make the propellers spin on a wind turbine. I actually have a recording of him saying that.

    How is it that any legion of people could ever believe that, give that a pass or let that kind of wrong-headedness go? What is it about conservatives that makes them so susceptible to getting scammed like this?

    When a Republican legislator or voter talks about green energy, it’s too often a towing of the line for fossil fuels, or in this blog’s case, a towing of the uranium industry’s lines.

  51. Robert McTaggart 2017-05-24 11:53

    I’m not against wind and solar Adam, I am against assuming that they can cover all of our energy needs…at all times…while reducing carbon. Until energy storage is available and affordable, or carbon capture works, we will burn natural gas instead. Please use what the wind and the sun provide, but make sure the backup is carbon-free.

    If you believe that all radioactivity is bad, why aren’t wind and solar responsible for the naturally-occurring radioactivity that they redistribute, or the NORMs that occur with natural gas backup? Because that would drive up the cost of wind and solar, and you would rather drive up the cost of nuclear instead.

    I don’t think the solution to affordability that the Danes are having is to go out and build even bigger turbines that are more expensive. Build smaller ones that can be recycled more easily. Then you don’t have to use the carbon fiber for added strength (of which only 2% is recycled today!!!).

  52. Adam 2017-05-24 12:04

    It takes a Limbaugh believer to hate on wind and solar as much as you do. Either that or it takes a fossil or uranium industry hack wannabe.

  53. Robert McTaggart 2017-05-24 12:05

    I guess what I am surmising for wind is trading efficiency in the large and tall turbines for cost and sustainability (use materials that can be recycled more easily).

  54. Robert McTaggart 2017-05-24 12:17

    Yes, let’s not answer the points about the best practices of sustainability and waste reduction that wind and solar should follow, and attack the messenger instead.

  55. Adam 2017-05-24 12:18

    This borehole is dead because the cost benefit analysis of it and future nuclear power plants doesn’t broadly equate to a worthy investment.

    Meanwhile, green energy has been exploding everywhere but rural conserva-states because the cost benefit analysis has been panning out for for quite some time and rural people can’t do math.

    Mr T. pitties the fool who thinks recycling is a high leverage rebuttal to expanding wind and solar power.

  56. Robert McTaggart 2017-05-24 12:42

    The borehole concept is not dead. As even Donald Pay will tell you, it has been around for a long time. But the data will not be collected to do the cost benefit analysis.

    I will agree with you that in the near term, they are more likely to try to keep the current plants operating and address commercial waste storage before production of new nuclear plants pick up. Shutting them down is not cost-effective and would only result in more carbon from natural gas.

    I’ll say it again. Make all the solar and wind energy you want. But at least practice what you preach. Reduce carbon, reduce waste, and reduce cost while delivering the energy people actually use….not what you believe they deserve. I happen to think that a nuclear/wind/solar combo is feasible while we work on energy storage or carbon capture. But hoping that the latter will work and burning more gas than we need to is not the right approach.

  57. Adam 2017-05-24 12:51

    We aren’t even close to saturating our antiquated electricity transmission infrastructure with all the green energy it can handle, and nuclear power does not have a roll in one day making that happen.

    It’s crappy and small minded to think uranium is somehow neccessary to make wind and solar more and more viable in today’s world.

  58. grudznick 2017-05-24 13:05

    The Borehole will probably return, I am sure. It may then be known as The Zombie Borehole for more than the mutations caused be the bacteria that will grow at the bottom. For the overgodders out there, think of it like you need to have faith The Borehole will be resurrected some day.

  59. Donald Pay 2017-05-24 14:23

    I agree with Dr. McT that boreholes could be resurrected. Bad ideas never seem to completely die. Eternal vigilance is required.

  60. Adam 2017-05-24 16:31

    If this South Dakota borehole proposal ever returns, its sale pitch will be the mumbling of the words, “brains – must eat brains.”

  61. Adam 2017-05-24 16:32

    Wait – that’s almost the same exact pitch they made this time around!

  62. Robert McTaggart 2017-05-24 16:53

    I would be pleased as punch if they did the borehole testing, SDSMT won the grant, and the data showed that an alternative to the borehole approach would be better overall. Because that decision would have been based on real data, not just because Donald or Adam say so.

    You don’t need nuclear to generate the energy that people will demand. You can go ahead and burn coal or natural gas to do that when renewables are not available. Nuclear/wind/solar can work with present technology. Or you can bet the climate on the potential success of carbon capture or energy storage.

  63. Adam 2017-05-24 17:29

    There was just no way to know that you would be pleased as punch if they did the borehole testing – until you just typed that out for the one trillionth time. Glad you clairified your position – LOL

  64. jerry 2017-05-24 17:35

    Turns out that the borehole was just plain boring, oh well. Maybe our new comrade pal putin, will make use out of the existing borehole there.

  65. jerry 2017-05-24 18:02

    Ruh oh, Exxon is in deep problems and that means Sexy Rexy may be in for a rough ride There another lizard from the swamp will soon find toxicity from their dealings …I say Eric Schneiderman for president in 2020 so that swamp can be tiled and drained!

  66. Porter Lansing 2017-05-24 18:40

    Prof. McTaggart … No one can say you didn’t give your all to promoting the benefits and safety of the proposed bore holes. I’m assuming the other three across USA are canceled, also. SoDak is very privileged to have you among it’s educational leaders. Keep up the stellar work and thank-you, sir.

  67. Robert McTaggart 2017-05-24 19:05

    Thank you Porter for your kind comments.

    Yes, the other three are done as well…at least when it comes to DOE funding in this administration.

    Yes Adam, I would have at least liked the science to have been done, and it’s time that the WWII and Cold War legacy of defense wastes are finally dealt with. The status quo is not a solution.

    Somebody could have put together something saying that boreholes over a certain depth can only be used for geothermal energy unless there is a vote by the public.

  68. grudznick 2017-05-24 19:15

    Talking about Science and The Borehole is infinitely more interesting and enlightening to all of the bloggers who just read than the handful of fellows who just squawk “conspiracy, conspiracy, corruption, corruption, corruption” over and over.

    Everybody with a higher functioning brain loves Science, and probably boreholes.

  69. Robert McTaggart 2017-05-24 19:18

    Science, pancakes, sausage, and a good maple syrup go together.

  70. Adam 2017-05-24 20:32

    There is one particular thing I have to thank the Doc for. A while ago, he mentioned using wind power to pump water into reservoirs so that it can be released through Hydro electric generators when the wind isn’t blowing.

    Perhaps a year later, I was watching Netflix show featuring an advanced modern world island of 10,000 people which had acres upon acres of older generation wind turbines producing about 4% of the island’s power needs – the rest was derived from diesel fuel shipped in on ocean freight-liners.

    Long story short, a guy came along and had a great plan to build 5 modern generation wind turbines in just the right spots, and 2 water resovoirs with hydro-dams. It now covers the entire island’s energy needs, and diesel power is never used (not even for base-line power). It says a lot for how the Black Hills could do the same thing, somewhere within it. The terrain is VERY similar.

    So, that day a while back, Dr. McTaggert made a lasting point in my understanding of wind power, and it really inspires me when it comes to the energy independent potential of the Black Hills.

  71. leslie 2017-05-24 22:17

    In the 70s-80s the plan was pipe Big Muddy water uphill near Gregory and release it for hydropower at optimum times. Subsidize that dear ruler.

  72. Robert McTaggart 2017-05-24 22:23

    Why do you think it hasn’t happened yet? Why doesn’t the Black Hills run on wind and hydro / pumped hydro?

  73. Adam 2017-05-24 22:31

    I think it’s because the latest modern generation of wind turbines haven’t yet been part of a cost benefit analysis in the private sector of the Black Hills. It would be a project that takes bold vision, and where the heck are you gonna find that in South Dakota? Sh!t, this is the last place I’d go to find any of that.

    It’s not too late, or out of place, to get on the front end of this hydro/wind partnership though!

  74. Donald Pay 2017-05-24 22:32

    Just read the linked article regarding some real science with implications on radioactive waste disposal: the behavior of glass and other materials when exposed to irradiation makes materials behave more like liquids. Big implications for nuclear waste disposal.

  75. Robert McTaggart 2017-05-24 22:38

    Materials exposed to neutrons are shown to have some changes according to the article. Neutrons are rare in nuclear waste…the radioactive decays release gamma rays (photons) and beta rays (electrons) and alpha particles (helium atoms).

    Neutrons are more like bowling balls in the atomic lattice and can cause displacements. Gamma rays and everything else end up breaking bonds.

    I would say the article is more germane for materials used near the reactor cores in an active reactor, as opposed to storage.

  76. Robert McTaggart 2017-05-24 22:48

    Neutrons have mass and are neutral. Gamma rays do not have any mass. Thus the difference in the effects.

    There are certainly issues with materials in reactors that have their licenses extended. They are exposed to both more neutrons and more gamma rays. The effects of both on concrete is particularly of interest, since it is copiously used in structures and shielding. I have looked at the effects of gamma rays on concrete, but not neutrons.

    The effects of breaking all of those bonds in an oxygen atmosphere also has an impact, because the bonds will reform in different arrangements that affect the strength of the material (i.e. how much load it can carry). Neutrons can convert one element into another, so the chemistry changes…..that means the corrosion properties change too.

    All glasses are pretty much liquids, but they just happen to move very slowly.

  77. Adam 2017-05-24 22:52

    No no no! Thank YOU for bringing up hydro/wind partnership ideas, which are perfectly able to cover base-line loads, so long ago.

  78. Robert McTaggart 2017-05-24 23:05

    They don’t tend to put up a wind turbine just anywhere, so those kinds of studies are fairly thorough to get the most power. And because it is the Black Hills you would have to be especially careful with environmental issues (birds and turbines, fish and plants and dams).

    Certainly worth investigating and trying.

  79. Adam 2017-05-24 23:07

    Ya can’t even thank me for thanking you. Truly the sign of a dyed in wool conservative.

  80. Robert McTaggart 2017-05-24 23:10

    I’m agreeing with you that it is an idea worth pursuing. Geez.

  81. Adam 2017-05-24 23:11

    Geez. Indeed.

  82. Adam 2017-05-24 23:12

    You did take the time to thank the other guy ;)

  83. Robert McTaggart 2017-05-24 23:17

    The other guy didn’t tell me in no uncertain terms where you want to put a borehole…

  84. Adam 2017-05-25 00:12

    Right up yer arse, Dr. McTaggert. Right up your arse.

  85. Adam 2017-05-25 00:35

    Ye little snowflake – LOL

  86. Don Coyote 2017-05-25 00:47

    @Adam: “Limbaugh once told his massive legion of followers to believe that it takes electricity to make the propellers spin on a wind turbine. I actually have a recording of him saying that.”

    Yes that’s true. On certain/many days in the winter the wind turbines consume more electricity than can be produced due to keeping the oil in the turbine ballast’s fluid enough so the turbines can turn, blade pitch control, lights and on and on. Wind electricity generation is not as precise as you dream.

  87. Adam 2017-05-25 00:55

    FU – Don – you’re stupid [aint got no wherewithal].

  88. Adam 2017-05-25 01:02

    I know, you know, that you identify with name-calling i.e. “Lying Ted” and “little Marco.”

    Therefore, you identify with name calling. In fact, you identify with it the most – that is, if you participated in the Republican primary vote .

  89. Robert McTaggart 2017-05-25 08:16


    Things like energy efficiency and grid management help, but they do not change the physics of wind generation for each turbine. If demand peaks, connecting lots of turbines to a grid won’t guarantee that enough energy will be available.

    But don’t worry, we’ll build a lot of solar and wind. The questions will be how much carbon do you want with that (i.e. natural gas back-up), and how much non-recycled waste will there be. Kicking the can down the road on those two items will neither help the climate nor sustainability.

  90. Donald Pay 2017-05-25 12:36

    I’ve seen statements from Rep. Noem and Sen. Thune, but not from Sen. Rounds, whose brother-in-law was once in charge of the tanks (some leaking), holding radioactive defense wastes at the Hanford site. Anyone seen a statement from Rounds?

  91. Robert McTaggart 2017-05-25 13:14

    “At the right scale, carbon dioxide removal approaches are a key tool in the climate solutions kit,” Mach said. “Avoiding can-kicking ethics, however, means putting aside assumptions that massive deployments will easily materialize decades into the future. Instead, we need to embrace whole-hearted mitigation today.”

    Time to use all of the tools in the toolkit and actually reduce carbon.

    And no, I haven’t seen a statement from Rounds.

  92. Cory Allen Heidelberger Post author | 2017-05-26 12:58

    Rounds said in March he wanted local control in siting the Borehole. He sounded a similar note on local control in May 2016 when Spink County was considering the Battelle bid, but he also said the Borehole proposal “furthers our state’s leadership in scientific underground research.”

    “Like Governor Daugaard, I believe the project presents a unique learning opportunity for SDSM&T students and furthers our state’s leadership in scientific underground research,” Rounds said. “Additionally, assurances have been made that no nuclear waste will be stored at the site. It is now up to the citizens of Spink County to determine if it is a good opportunity for their county. I will support the outcome of their decision” [John Hult, “Drilling Project Stokes Nuclear Fears,” that Sioux Falls paper, 2016.05.23].

    Like Robert, I have not seen comment from Rounds on this week’s cancellation.

  93. Robert McTaggart 2017-05-29 20:32

    “Opportunities Exist to Reduce Risks and Costs by Evaluating Different Waste Treatment Approaches at Hanford”, written by GAO in May, 2017.

    The low-level stuff constitutes 90% of the volume but only 10% of the radioactivity. The document above explores the use of grout to store this kind of waste as opposed to vitrification in glass. By grout they mean immobilizing the waste by mixing it into a type of concrete. The discussion is about what to do with the low-level stuff that they have not committed to vitrifying in glass.

    The high-level stuff from Hanford would still require isolation in a geologic disposal facility (boreholes or something like Yucca).

  94. Robert McTaggart 2017-05-30 13:40

    Three Mile Island is now slated to close in 2019 unless they get the same support as Illinois is giving its plants.

    If we are unlucky, the conversion to electric cars will hit just as the nuclear plants are being shut down. Get ready for more carbon from our natural gas back-up.

    Furthermore, the nuclear waste is not going anywhere from a shutdown nuclear plant. The interim storage sites need to be approved regardless.

  95. Adam 2017-05-30 16:07

    Indeed, there are so many fundamental challenges to uranium derived civilian power, from processing and storage of waste to huge upfront costs of building plants and non-radioactive envoronmental pollution byproducts.

    In fact, almost everything about nuclear power generation, in today’s world, makes it cost prohibitive.

  96. Robert McTaggart 2017-05-30 17:51

    Yes, but they are making 500, 1000, 1500 MW at a time and doing that for 40, 60, 80 years.

    Wind, solar, gas, oil, and coal all re-distribute or re-concentrate naturally-occurring radioisotopes. Even though every bit of radiation supposedly counts, they are not held to account like nuclear is. The same rules should apply, but they don’t. Democrats don’t want to make wind and solar more expensive, and Republicans do not want to make oil, gas, or coal more expensive.

  97. Robert McTaggart 2017-05-30 18:05

    We’ll see if we can build the new reactors that include all of the capabilities we want (less waste, less upfront cost, load-following, etc.).

    There isn’t a zero-sum game where less wind/solar would be built….those get built wherever the conditions are right. The question will be do we want to generate all the power people could want, or be fine with whatever we can extract from sunshine and wind.

  98. grudznick 2017-05-30 18:13

    I, for one, think the federal government should give a little talking to just jamming The Borehole down wherever they want it, because Science is Good For Us, gosh darn it, and the ignorant fearful people need to be forced into measles shots too.

  99. Porter Lansing 2017-05-30 18:54

    Pretty good, Grudzie … in an innuendo sorta way. Where do you think many on FreePress would like to see the government jam your borehole down? 🐐

  100. Robert McTaggart 2017-05-30 19:23

    No, I don’t think we should keep our government jam in a borehole. I’m guessing that government jam is strawberry.

  101. leslie 2017-05-30 19:57

    forgot to mention nyt Antarctic special mentions small reactor on 4 containers used from 60s to 70s until plumbing cracked. now they just burn diesel in this pristine wilderness at mcmurdo.

  102. leslie 2017-05-30 19:59

    anyone have a workable link to the 2017 case?

  103. grudznick 2017-05-30 20:00

    Thank you for the goat, Mr. Lansing. Aside, you would be proud of my new haircut.

  104. Porter Lansing 2017-05-30 20:09

    Always proud of you, Grudzie. Did you get the Dougie Wiken style? It’s guaranteed to scare newcomers away.

  105. Robert McTaggart 2017-05-30 21:43

    Burning diesel keeps it pristine? No solar or wind at the South Pole?

    There is interest in nuclear for stand-alone power that is always available in remote locations or for critical infrastructure (hospitals, Army bases, etc.). More so for the newer designs….fewer pumps and valves, less plumbing, air cooling.

  106. Adam 2017-05-30 23:33

    I think it’s pretty funny how some South Dakotans want to get [ideologically] boreholed so bad that they cry out for it long after a recent remote chance of getting one has died.

    I’ve got news for you snowflake boneheads, ya already got boreholed in the brain bigly with the biggest hole you can survive – the success of Mr. Trump. The more y’all stick up for him the more you’ll regret it later on.

    If you were to have won this deep nuclear borehole at the same time Trump fully took over your political party, none of you could have survived. You’d have lost too much brain juice to tell which way is up. In a way you should be grateful.

  107. Robert McTaggart 2017-05-31 07:27

    Let’s review…the wastes have still not been isolated from the biosphere. Money will continue to be spent on their security and storage instead of on other things. The use of science to study a potential means of storage has been averted.

  108. Adam 2017-05-31 11:37

    Let’s review… the South Dakota borehole just died and Dr. Bob with other conserva-thinkers still cry out to get boreholed as they do not recognize a ‘failed effort’ nor understand the words ‘cost prohibitive’ very well.

  109. Robert McTaggart 2017-05-31 19:36

    You have to do the science first to determine what the costs really are, and assess which approaches will work better for the isolation of nuclear waste.

    Ever notice how some want to stop collecting data about climate change, and others want to avoid collecting data about safe nuclear storage? Are those pro-science tendencies, or efforts to avoid data that conflict with pre-ordained outcomes?

  110. leslie 2017-05-31 19:42

    that (2017 case) should be posted under the heading of recreating on water over private property flooded recently. sorry

    also, isn’t MA planning offshore wind turbine fields, coyote?

  111. Robert McTaggart 2017-05-31 19:59

    “Resuming Licensing of the Yucca Mountain Repository Would Require Rebuilding Capacity at DOE and NRC, Among Other Key Steps”

    GAO identifies 4 key steps needed to resume the process, but does not make any recommendations.

  112. Adam 2017-05-31 20:34

    Someone should help Doc understand how it’s over. As fast as Donald Trump became President – the South Dakota borehole proposal is dead.

    It’s a cost/benefit thing. Trump is a ‘business’ man, and your party is so impotent that it wont even stand up to this President even in the slightest.

    If McTaggert wants to actually get anything done, he should be waxing on and off to his national GOP more than he blogs in South Dakota. After all, Republicans control nearly the whole Federal government and it’s “put up or shut up time” for them – now that they have unimpeaded access to do whatever they want. You tell ’em Doc! Tell ’em how mining pollution is a better deal than solar and wind pollution! And don’t forget to them about how your radiation hormesis therapy is ‘real’ science too.

    It’s up to you Doc. If we Liberals try to tell the GOP, they won’t listen to us. So, take your argument to your people, in government, because they are the one’s currently holding your agenda back – NOT LIBERALS.

  113. Adam 2017-05-31 21:18

    [dropping the mic] [still, willing to pick it back up]

  114. Robert McTaggart 2017-05-31 22:08

    News flash to Adam. Who says you have to be a Republican to like nuclear energy? Who says Democrats don’t like a clean energy industry with high-paying jobs?

    You should also approve of the science to study the effects of low levels of radiation. But once again you do not want those studies to be done, since there is a chance that the answer would conflict with the answer you have pre-determined.

    Hormesis is but one of the models that has its supporters. But if it were indeed true, or if a threshold model were true, the present costs of nuclear could not be justified.

    Oh…you dropped this mic. Please pick it up and stop littering!

  115. Adam 2017-05-31 23:58

    “Who says you have to be a Republican to like nuclear energy? Who says Democrats don’t like a clean energy industry with high-paying jobs?”

    Answer: no one that I can tell

    Radiation hormesis therapy is total complete BS. Fact are facts; your alternative facts to any sort of contrary are misleading and bogus. Proponents of such BS usually support the idea of radiation being something like a vitamin that we need to survive and speak with a THICK Southern drawl.

    Sure, you may not have ever thought Mexico would pay for Trump’s wall, but the vast majority of Republicans did. And sure, you may not think that radiation is a vitamin, but you’re in the camp of people who do – and that alone negetively impacts your credibility.

    You’re in poor company – outside of this blog [to be clear].

  116. Robert McTaggart 2017-06-01 07:49

    Nobody disputes that the linear, no-threshold model (LNT) works at high doses. The argument is at lower doses where more data is needed. If you are not afraid of being wrong, then you should support the collection of more data with controlled low dose experiments that focus on radiological effects only.

    I have seen papers that show that cells that get an initial small dose do better against a larger dose. But you need multiple studies and have various controls set up, and that may not be true for all dose ranges.

    Good news….you do not need a borehole to do those studies. But you do need an underground location that reduces cosmic rays, is designed to keep Radon out, is in a clean room environment to reduce dust (to which Radon products can attach), and is shielded against electromagnetic radiation and other radioactive decays from the surrounding rock.

    I do not support the construction of the wall. I would rather spend taxpayer money on other things. As I would with the monies we continue to spend on nuclear waste isolation at power plants, that could be avoided if we actually solve the problem.

  117. Adam 2017-06-01 13:38

    Radiation hormesis therapy has not been able to get research funding, for almost 60 years now, because ALL the real scientists have always known that its hypothesis isn’t even plausible. The fact that Robert is open to the idea of this research shows how non-judicious this Doc is – and willing to blow research money on his own pet project(s).

    Doc should do the research on his own, and make Mexico pay for it.

    I have a pretty good feeling that all of the Doctor Bobs of this world quietly sang along, “Build – The – Wall” and “Lock – Her – Up” with all their loud mouthed idiot friends. I think it tickled your little fancy.

    I also think it’s safe to say that people like Doc just don’t have the balls to admit they and all their friends, voted for the biggest fool – and therebye killed their own borehole – making it truly no wonder that Doc thinks radiation could make people stronger and healthier.

    Republicans are in almost complete control of our state and federal governments; Doc should be chewing HIS peoples’ ears off about how mining pollution is a better deal than solar and wind pollution. Republicans never listen to Liberals even when His name was Jesus Christ – and so, it’s up to peeps like Doc. to set forth in trying to make sense to the true idiots of America: conserva-people.

    If he had spent all his blogging time/energy on communicating with his GOP, maybe Trump wouldn’t have killed his precious borehole.

  118. Adam 2017-06-01 13:45

    Heck, maybe Doc could have helped talk Trump into keeping America in Paris Climate Agreement if he hadn’t spend so much time and energy making Liberals out to be against science on this blog.

  119. Robert McTaggart 2017-06-01 17:20

    No Adam, there was research money dedicated to low dose radiation biology at one time. Just not recently. Nobody wants to challenge the LNT…probably like you they don’t want it to be wrong.

    Somehow, it escapes you that some Republicans won’t get on the climate change train unless it benefits them on their terms…not yours. Sure clean air and clean water is terrific, but a better economy and more energy is better. So I hope a real clean energy plan that includes renewables, efficiency, hydro, gas, and nuclear comes out of this. I don’t think “clean coal” can play until the costs come down and the emissions are at least cut in half to be on par with gas.

    With regard to the predicament that Democrats face across the board, it is clear that the way things are being done and the arguments that are being made are not winning over the voters. Why? Because Democrats have been losing. Saying that you are not a Republican has not been enough…a more positive case that benefits the voter is necessary.

    How that message is delivered also matters a lot. Hillary certainly has the wonkiness and experience to operate government successfully, but she did not meet voters the way they wanted her to or listen to them.

  120. Robert McTaggart 2017-06-01 17:27

    How does it feel to be pro-science for climate change, but anti-science when trying to find a solution to nuclear waste?

  121. Adam 2017-06-01 18:09

    LNT has been extensively studied. Radiation hormesis therapy has been a widely recognized kook scam for like 70 years.

    Clearly, I am Pro-Science. I just think some areas are more timely to research than others.

    And if you think you’re gonna get anything other than the biggest infatuation with coal out of your new Republican government, you got another thing coming. Trump made his LOVE and preference for coal so 100% clear that to have any other notion of what he’s thinking is silly.

    And since when have you ever seen a Republican law maker sing the praises of wind and/or solar? Never, because they have an ideology (campaign finance) problem that opposes it. I’m done listening to Republicans on energy policy. They’ve had decades to make sense to me, but they’ve failed miserably.

    Today Republicans backed the U.S. out of the Paris Agreement because their absolute weakest issue is energy and environment, and that’s your ideological family right there. Y’all are tight. I’m not saying that you are bad because your cousin is bad, I am saying that you come from a crappy ‘family’ obsessed with guns, God, coal, and distain for any proactive public policy. Your family has been this way for generations. What makes you different? (besides paying minimal lip service to wind and solar when it’s convenient)

  122. Robert McTaggart 2017-06-01 20:06

    You are pro-science? Play ring around the borehole all you want, you still wave the flag of anti-science and a no-solution government proudly. Nuclear science is still science.

    And no, hormesis is not the only model that people like to explain the data at lower doses of radiation. You keep forgetting the threshold model, which would mean that radiological effects are quite similar in immune response to other chemical toxicologies. Different diseases may in fact require a different model. Save your psychological profiles for those still promoting cold fusion.

    Not having to rely upon the utility for power would find favor among Republicans. American energy…that’s the ticket. It would have helped Democrats if everyone could have afforded some solar and saw the buyback very soon. Didn’t happen.

    Democrats needed West Virginia and Michigan this past election, but not enough to work for them.

  123. Robert McTaggart 2017-06-01 20:29

    It was a mistake to get out of the Paris Accord. Could’ve placated everybody and stayed, and then simply failed to meet the obligations of a voluntary accord. But it was more important to end an Obama legacy.

    So we’ll see if they “renegotiate” and what that means, and pay attention to what happens to the Clean Power Plan in parallel. I don’t think they can save coal, so they will champion natural gas instead, including the export of liquefied natural gas.

    We are relinquishing our leadership in solar, wind, and nuclear technologies.

  124. jerry 2017-06-01 21:15

    Can’t be renegotiated doc. Germany, France and Italy all declared that today. No one wants to reinvent the wheel so an angry fearful trump, just pulled the pin on a very important operation. trumps military, as he call them, have gone on record to declare that climate change is a national threat. So, smart people like yourself are being asked if they want to go where they are welcome, you know to a place that believes that there is a serious climate issue and we need to curtail the use of fossil fuels. The wine is damn good there doc, and the produce, wow. I have seen artichoke there the size of a football, no kidding. Public transportation to go along with universal health and more importantly, respect and as you heard, they speak English as well as other languages, what a joy!.

  125. Robert McTaggart 2017-06-01 22:08

    Basically Trump is taking his ball home with him instead of playing with everybody. Probably wants Germany, Italy, and France to chase after him.

    The whole Republican mantra is that things are better left to the states. So now it will literally be up to the states to support clean energy efforts. We will see whether clean energy states will have better economies than states that are not home to clean energy industries.

  126. jerry 2017-06-01 22:29

    California, New York and Washington along with dozens of cities are already doing that. Europe is not gonna chase, they are gonna lead.

  127. Adam 2017-06-01 22:32

    For decades now, conservatives have been sowing the seeds of doubt on climate change. From “Al Gore is just trying to make money” to “Global Warming is a hoax” all the way to “Liberals just hate business – that’s all.”

    Honestly, if Doc could just go out there and make a dent in the common conserva-understanding of climate science, he would go down in history as the one guy who ever changed the views of the ‘God over science’ crowd (they think Global Warming is part of the rapture).

  128. Robert McTaggart 2017-06-01 22:36

    But they also have to deliver the energy that people demand without carbon. More than 4/5 of our energy pie is still based on fossil fuels.

  129. Adam 2017-06-01 22:47

    The only way to save the planet is to somehow, some way, change the Republican Party. Anyone who thinks otherwise – just ain’t thinkin’.

  130. Robert McTaggart 2017-06-01 22:53

    That’s a tall order Adam, given that climate change is associated with Democratic politics.

  131. jerry 2017-06-01 22:56

    Macron has opened the door for thought, action and above all, respect regarding climate change doc. You know the base thinks this is just peachy, so they are all in with it. Global warming should mean less show shoveling and more zucchini growth, but lettuce, not so good this year.

  132. Adam 2017-06-01 22:57

    Spoken like a true “radiation could actually be a vitamin” kind of guy.

  133. Adam 2017-06-01 22:58

    I’m sorry; that last comment was a little presumptuous; did you mean Democratic ‘Party’ politics?

  134. Robert McTaggart 2017-06-01 22:58

    I don’t know why the average Democrat cannot have wind and solar and the average Republican cannot have some nuclear (assuming what each party generally agrees with). If you are not producing energy, then there are other infrastructure needs that different parts of the nation could be involved in.

    You have to figure things out so that both parties see clean energy as a win, or else it will not grow.

  135. Robert McTaggart 2017-06-01 23:01

    Yes, Democratic Party politics.

  136. Adam 2017-06-01 23:08

    Ok then. Go enjoy your radiation health spas as much as you possibly can. ‘They’ say it will extend your life – ROFL copter.

    And like I don’t remember what it was like convincing one of my very best friends to this day how global warming is real. He made me answer to every conserva-conspiracy that exists out there, but the truth won in the end. Let me tell ya, the only enemies of saving the planet are fancy conserva-thoughts.

  137. Robert McTaggart 2017-06-01 23:25

    Hormesis would not act as a vitamin. The risk of disease would in theory be reduced upon exposure to lower doses (likely due to immune response).

    For doses less than 10 rem, radiation effects are difficult to observe (if any occurs), but above 10 rem the relationship between risk of disease and radiation dose is linear.

    For some perspective, we roughly get 0.3 rem (300 millirem) per year (total) from the natural environment (food, air, water, soil, buildings, cosmic rays, etc.).

    Low dose studies would need to occur from even lower doses all the way up to a few rem to verify what is actually happening. Easier said than done.

  138. Adam 2017-06-01 23:39

    There are far too many scammers running radon bath spas for profit with unmonitored and unregulated holes and caverns in the ground. It’s a travesty. The government’s always trying to shut them down – and they use that in their conserva-messaging about how the government doesn’t want you to know how radiation is actually good for you. It becomes the sales pitch for a great scam on gullible conservatives – for money.

  139. Adam 2017-06-01 23:40

    Those scammers love it when you entertain their potential legitimacy.

  140. grudznick 2017-06-02 00:33

    I love it when a Real Scientist debunks you libbies.

  141. Robert McTaggart 2017-06-02 07:57

    I hate to tell you, but radiation and radioactivity are a part of nature. The scam is believing that zero dose should be the goal, when that does not occur in nature. And we are paying a lot to try and do that. In fact, life has done quite well, thank you very much, in environments with higher radioactivity than today…like the past few billion years (#4Science).

    The primary issue with Radon is that it can be inhaled, which means that many biological defenses are bypassed. Skin is a great shield for alpha particles from the decay of Radon progeny. More of a problem for long-term exposures in higher Radon environments and/or when people smoke. Smoking is a great Radon delivery system because it clings to smoke particles.

    The far majority of the dose we get from nature (most of that 0.3) is from Radon. So total dose and dose rate would have to be much greater than 0.3 rem/year to have any effect radiologically.

  142. mike from iowa 2017-06-02 08:05

    2017-06-02 at 00:33

    I love it when a Real Scientist debunks you libbies.

    Wingnuts wouldn’t know a real scientist if one bit them…..pick a spot. Wingnuts are all asses.

  143. Robert McTaggart 2017-06-02 08:22

    The threshold for effects may also depend on the radiosensitivity of the cell in addition to the dose or the dose rate. 10 rem may be near an overall rule-of-thumb threshold, but I suppose that could be reduced in cells that replicate faster (like in the gut for example).

    How much reduction….well that is where the studies come into play. What confounds Radon studies is that some of the primary historical studies in the field are based upon uranium miners that smoked.

    You are receiving low dose Radon therapy for free, so no need to pay for that stuff. And you feel great!

  144. Don Coyote 2017-06-02 11:01

    @jerry: “So, smart people like yourself are being asked if they want to go where they are welcome, you know to a place that believes that there is a serious climate issue and we need to curtail the use of fossil fuels. The wine is damn good there doc, and the produce, wow. I have seen artichoke there the size of a football, no kidding. Public transportation to go along with universal health and more importantly, respect and as you heard, they speak English as well as other languages, what a joy!.”

    FWIW, France gets 77% of their electricity from nuclear. Also “football size” artichokes are grown in California. They are the “Green Globe” cultivar.

  145. Adam 2017-06-02 12:03

    Doc has typed, “I hate to tell you, but radiation and radioactivity are a part of nature” so many times on this blog; he must think we are all so stupid that we never got through grade school.

    Doc, do you get students off the farm who are confused like that, about radiation, right out of high school? Is that why you feel so many people think radiation is unnatural?

  146. Miranda Gohn 2017-06-02 13:16

    Rob why are they so hard on you? I have stated a number of times I believe we should take a hard look at the latest generation options for nuclear power and get Yucca Mountain back in business for being a permanent repository with looking at reprocessing used fuel if possible.

    I realize the daily dose we get from Radon but wonder if Radon levels are high in South Dakota compared to Minnesota? There are some counties in Minnesota where lung cancer is higher due to high Radon emissions and their homes are not properly ventilated.

  147. Adam 2017-06-02 16:20

    I think the real question is:

    Why is Rob so hard on Liberals in science when his political party is where all the climate deniers go to agree with each other on how “them city people ain’t as smart as they think they are”?

    And just look at the Trump Admin, TODAY, refusing to answer questions about if the President thinks Global Warming is actually a hoax. OMFG is it perfectly clear that the loud mouthed idiots on climate change are all Republican voters.

    But Doc just can’t help but blame the liberals, even when his party runs the WHOLE show. I think it’s offensive, and I ain’t no snowflake.

  148. Robert McTaggart 2017-06-02 17:30

    I’m not a Republican. My party is supposed to support science.

  149. Robert McTaggart 2017-06-02 17:47

    Hi Miranda,

    I make the mistake of pointing out inconsistencies on a blog, where some people want their opinion to be mirrored. My bad :^).

    Minnesota, South Dakota, and Iowa in particular can have higher Radon levels. Radon is not the only environmental factor at play, and those factors are not controlled over several decades, so correlations are the best one can do….not cause and effect.

    But I suspect if I got into the data, smoking, heredity, and the radiosensitivity of a particular person’s lung cells would enhance any correlation between lung disease and local Radon levels.

  150. Robert McTaggart 2017-06-02 18:07

    I think on average Radon levels are lower in South Dakota than our neighbors, but you can have spots where levels are larger. Best thing to do is have a Radon test. Different homes can have different levels.

    But I myself just went ahead and mitigated my home for Radon just for the re-sale value.

  151. jerry 2017-06-02 18:24

    Thanks coyote, yes, California, New York and Washington state are going to join France and the rest of the EU along with China to save the planet. So it is no surprise to me that football size artichokes are grown in California, seems fitting, in a save the planet sort of way. BTW, I happen to like these very much.

    True that also about the 75% power from nukes. The French also export their energy to UK, Spain, and Italy. To cut down on nuke waste, they recycle “France chose the closed fuel cycle at the very beginning of its nuclear program, involving reprocessing used fuel so as to recover uranium and plutonium for re-use and to reduce the volume of high-level wastes for disposal. Recycling allows 30% more energy to be extracted from the original uranium and leads to a great reduction in the amount of wastes to be disposed of.”

    France is decommissioning several of their power plants as they have done with coal fired plants to live up to and surpass the co2 requirements set by Paris. By working together on all forms of energy, perhaps we can find solutions rather than just doing the same thing over and over again while looking for a bigger hole to put our waste in.

  152. Robert McTaggart 2017-06-02 20:21

    You can’t recycle the defense wastes that would use a borehole disposal method. You could possibly extract them and give them a second use, such as in determining the thickness of rolls of paper (thicker paper attenuates the radiation more). But there would still be waste to deal with.

    One of the reasons that we do not recycle commercial wastes is that people fear that it would facilitate proliferation. But nations that have reprocessed their fuel, such as France, have never had that issue.

  153. Robert McTaggart 2017-06-03 12:03

    Two kinds of fusion being pursued: One is based on compressing successive pellets of fuel with lasers, and the other is based upon confinement of a plasma-based fuel with electromagnets. The latter is what ITER is.

    The issues with fusion are generally keeping the fusion reaction fueled and removing the waste, and designing materials to handle the high heat and radiation levels…much greater than fission in fact. There is radioactive waste, but the half-lives are much shorter.

    But first they have to get ITER or something like it to produce more energy than is required to operate it. If it can work, then in the 2040’s we may see a prototype fusion plant. So a lot of science and engineering will be required. The Sun shows that fusion works, but we just cannot use gravity to confine the plasma.

  154. Robert McTaggart 2017-06-06 08:28

    Japan has started up another reactor. They need the power, and they need the energy security. Things like natural gas are easily cut off.

    Energy Secretary Perry visited the Fukushima site during his tour of Asia.

    ” Perry, in Tokyo en route to a meeting of energy ministers in Beijing, said: “I hope China will step in and attempt to take the mantle away. It would be a good challenge for them.”

    But he prefaced that remark by saying, “the United States is not backing down from its role as a leader in cleaning up the climate.” ”

    ” He agreed with Seko on Japan-U.S. cooperation in clean energy and the environment, as well as nuclear energy and the cleanup of the Fukushima nuclear power plant, which was damaged by a 2011 earthquake and tsunami.

    “If you’re a millennial, and you care about the environment of where you live locally and of the world, then you need to be for nuclear energy,” Perry said. “Zero emissions.” “

  155. Robert McTaggart 2017-06-10 08:44

    Finland Works, Quietly, to Bury Its Nuclear Reactor Waste

    “Experts in nuclear waste management say the success of the Finnish project is due in part to how it was presented to the people who would be most affected by it. Each community under consideration as a repository location was consulted and promised veto power should it be selected.”

    Their canisters will be dropped in boreholes in the bedrock, but these are inside the tunnel and just deep enough to place a canister. The tunnels will then be backfilled with clay as the canisters are deposited. The Finnish repository does not sit above the water table. The community knows something about nuclear due to the proximity of several reactors.

  156. mike from iowa 2019-02-04 15:49

    Many people voiced concern with nukular waste getting dumped in South Dakota. Apparently the Drumpf administration has dumped weapons grade plutonium in Nevada (although Snopes says it is unproven) there appears to be substantiation that the stuff was indeed dumped without telling Nevada officials. I would love to hear what Donald Pay and Doc McTaggart have to say about this.

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