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'On contaminated dives, they get an extra $10 per day'
March 29, 2012 5:44 PM   Subscribe

Swimming on the Hot Side: An elite team of nuclear divers are risking their lives to help save a troubled industry. The Life of a Nuclear Diver
posted by the man of twists and turns (71 comments total) 13 users marked this as a favorite

 
got me a page not found on your first link there.
posted by wilful at 5:47 PM on March 29, 2012


proxy link through nyud.net
posted by the man of twists and turns at 5:49 PM on March 29, 2012 [1 favorite]


Her husband had survived the day-to-day hazards of his job, she said, but I wondered about the long-term effects. “Has he ever gotten sick?”
“You’d have to ask him.”
“But you said he won’t talk to me.”
She put her scissors down. “He gets chest pains.”
“From the radiation?”
“He says probably not, but what else could it be from? He’s still young.”


My wife's cousin has worked for about 15 years at a nuclear power plant as a project manager and engineer. For the past few years he has suffered from chronic fatigue syndrome and headaches. He's had all sorts of tests, but it's not cancer.

Apparently working in and around elevated radiation levels, despite the best precautions, can cause mystery illnesses.
posted by KokuRyu at 5:50 PM on March 29, 2012 [1 favorite]


Previously on MetaFilter: 'glow boys, nuclear janitors dying for a living,' March 31, 2011
posted by the man of twists and turns at 5:51 PM on March 29, 2012


Can they dive in 60 centimeters (24 inches) of water, I wonder?
posted by flapjax at midnite at 5:51 PM on March 29, 2012


Still not as great as this diver.
posted by Foci for Analysis at 5:58 PM on March 29, 2012


I was at a backyard barbecue once with a bunch of commercial divers and tenders who worked for various dive companies in the Gulf of Mexico.

The subject of nuclear diving came up, because it had the reputation of being the dream job in commercial diving: warm, clear water, all-new equipment, easy work and union pay.

Some of the guys knew a nuke-plant diver, a German woman whose name I forget. A few minutes later, the German diver and her husband, also a diver, showed up.

We gathered around, beers in hand, and asked her how she became a nuke diver.

"Well," she said, "First I had to pass a driver's record check."

Divers are notorious for accumulating DUI offenses. Half the crowd hung their heads.

"Then I had to pass a credit check." The majority of the remainder looked sheepish.

"Then, a background check." Many divers have had other brushes with the law. Chino Prison used to produce some great divers.

"A psych profile."

There was more, but we started laughing, and I can't remember the rest. I do remember realizing out of that crowd, only a German woman could make it through all those hoops.
posted by atchafalaya at 6:04 PM on March 29, 2012 [6 favorites]


Of course, there's a quite sad truckload of bullshit baggage that attaches itself to the word nuclear and the word radiation. All of this stuff is generally both manageable, and far far safer than the general perception. Not suggesting remotely that there aren't risks in nuclear power plant diving, but the mystique of diving near something that 'glows' (actually no it doesn't) doesn't gel with the facts of the risks of commercial diving in any odd space. I wouldn't be surprised if the nuclear diver featured in the story got more radiation from his basement, or his CT scans, or his international flights.

Also, xkcd radiation dose cartoon.
posted by wilful at 6:11 PM on March 29, 2012 [8 favorites]


The radiation's scary, but the intake accidents strike are nightmarish in a different way. The wife tells the reporter: "The non-contaminated diving they do—around the huge intake pipes that bring water into the plants—is even more dangerous. Sometimes they get sucked in.”
posted by audi alteram partem at 6:13 PM on March 29, 2012 [1 favorite]


KokuRyu: "My wife's cousin has worked for about 15 years at a nuclear power plant as a project manager and engineer. For the past few years he has suffered from chronic fatigue syndrome and headaches. He's had all sorts of tests, but it's not cancer.

Apparently working in and around elevated radiation levels, despite the best precautions, can cause mystery illnesses.
"

Correlation, causation, sample size of 1, etc.
posted by Joakim Ziegler at 6:16 PM on March 29, 2012 [11 favorites]


something that 'glows'
posted by BungaDunga at 6:18 PM on March 29, 2012


The $12/hour part is the most appalling. Assistant managers at Dunkin' Donuts don't get mangled.
posted by modernserf at 6:19 PM on March 29, 2012 [5 favorites]


Alright, as some mefi's probably know by now, I'm greatly in favour of nuclear power, when used responsibly. I'm also normally pretty cavalier about low level radiation doses. However, I have a couple of things to say:

1) It really sounds like these divers need more respect, and more pay. If a diver is having trouble getting enough work to pay their bills, it is really hard to say no to slightly unsafe conditions, or even downright unsafe conditions. That sounds like a hellishly dangerous job, even ignoring the radiation. Why the heck are the people willing to do it only making $60k a year, when autoworkers I know can make twice that with ease?
*I* make more then $12 an hour as an undergraduate chemistry major working in a lab. When I worked at a drug company for a few months I made something like twice that. Also: $10 a DAY bonus for radioactive dives? A day. Really.

2) I know the physical dangers are far higher, but damn, I would not want to dive in radioactive water, doubly so in an industrial setting. Isotopes and does that are totally safe outside the body can be hellish if they get ingested or enter the body through a cut, and if you somehow cut yourself while doing work you are surrounded by them, in already soluble liquid form. Lovely.

3) "Don't understand the dangers of low-level radiation"? Alright, must we keep repeating that? We've had study after study on workers on nuclear ships, in power plants, living near nuclear test sites, airline pilots and stewardesses, I think we have some idea of what it causes. It isn't like radiation is this super rare thing you only get if you dive into a reactor.
Admittedly, the mention of chest pains caught me eye: A lot of the scientists who went into Chernobyl for years and years after the accident died of heart attacks or strokes. Now, admittedly, they all smoked heavily, were in a high stress job, and were getting far, far more radiation then these divers, but it still caught my eye.
Medical privacy laws annoy me somewhat, as you can do really cool studies when your sample size is 'The population of Denmark', it is too bad that the Canadian government never added a "Allow researchers access to anonomized medical data" to nuclear energy worker status.
posted by Canageek at 6:26 PM on March 29, 2012 [6 favorites]


The pay seems completely insane to me. They should be making more than me, definitely.
posted by empath at 6:26 PM on March 29, 2012


Assistant managers at Dunkin' Donuts don't get mangled.

These guys and girls seem to like their jobs, though. They don't seem the type to happily set to work in a Dunkin' Donuts.
"Kinsella had received 16 mrem of dosage."
For comparison
posted by BungaDunga at 6:27 PM on March 29, 2012


something that 'glows'
posted by flapjax at midnite at 6:29 PM on March 29, 2012


@BengaDunga Thanks, I tried with Google and it didn't work. So she got half her yearly limit right there. That can't be fun. I just hope they don't do like nuclear workers at Chalk River used to and do various badge tricks to lower their does so they can keep working more hours. They had to both make that illegal, and work the badge into an ID card that must be visible at all times to stop it-- and that is in a very well paying, highly unionized environment, though admittedly, largely before the public understood much about radiation.

@flapjax: That picture isn't Cherenkov radiation, that has a blue glow that I hope to see next week (I know, three tours of nuclear reactors and they've all been offline on the day I visit). Probably an electric light or something like that.
posted by Canageek at 6:36 PM on March 29, 2012


(The divers I spoke with said they make about $20 an hour, which added up to somewhere between $20,000 and $60,000 a year, depending on workload and seniority. On contaminated dives, they get an extra $10 per day.)
That's crazy, I'm making almost that as an electrical apprentice and my work is a lot less dangerous.

KokuRyu writes "Apparently working in and around elevated radiation levels, despite the best precautions, can cause mystery illnesses."

These symptoms probably afflict more non nuclear workers than nuclear workers.
posted by Mitheral at 6:51 PM on March 29, 2012


BungaDunga, thanks for the conversion.

So 16mrem = 160 microsievert, which is the same as four flights from New York to LA, which is less that the exposure a commercial airline pilot would get each week.

Oh and $20 an hour is crazy crap. You can get that much making coffee. That is unskilled labour.

If I had a commercial dive ticket like that, I would be living in Singapore flying out to oil rigs on about $200k a year tax free.
posted by wilful at 6:55 PM on March 29, 2012


Can they dive in 60 centimeters (24 inches) of water, I wonder?

I'm still mindblown by the radiation amounts puking out in Fukushima. 70+ Sv/hr from where the endoscope went in means virtually guaranteed death in 8 minutes (2-3 minutes for a 50/50 shot at death vs. a significantly shortened, cancerous lifespan). The estimates were that right at the fuel would be 1000+ Sv/hr: 15 seconds and dead at 1000 Sv/hr.

So she got half her yearly limit right there.

Not the case; the units are tricky. 16 mrem is equal to 160 microsieverts. The yearly maximum annual dose for nuclear employees is 20 millisieverts per year averaged over 5 years (single year limit at 50 millisieverts). Current Fukushima emergency rules set it to 250 millisievert total.
posted by Mister Fabulous at 6:59 PM on March 29, 2012


Correlation, causation, sample size of 1, etc.

Well, I'll be sure to pass on your kind regards!
posted by KokuRyu at 7:07 PM on March 29, 2012 [2 favorites]


These symptoms probably afflict more non nuclear workers than nuclear workers.

Same for you!
posted by KokuRyu at 7:08 PM on March 29, 2012


@flapjax: That picture isn't Cherenkov radiation, that has a blue glow that I hope to see next week (I know, three tours of nuclear reactors and they've all been offline on the day I visit). Probably an electric light or something like that.

Canageek, that photo is pulled from the Guardian article that I linked to in my first comment in this thread. And it ain't no electric light.
posted by flapjax at midnite at 7:14 PM on March 29, 2012


The wages don't make sense to me. I've met a few commercial divers who worked oil rigs and deep salvage operations, and they made crazy money -- which is only fair for dangerous, skilled, and highly technical work.
posted by Forktine at 7:17 PM on March 29, 2012


I am very surprised to hear that divers are expected to work near active intake pipes, etc. I would have guessed plants like this would be designed such that they could run full tilt on any (n) of (n+1) total intakes, partly for this reason.
posted by Western Infidels at 7:18 PM on March 29, 2012


I don't think this is really the P.R the nuclear industry needs.
Also, xkcd radiation dose cartoon.
Which, it should be pointed out, was put out way early into the Fukushima thing, and way under-represents the radiation levels at the plant. Just today they measured 70 sieverts/hr. Previously they'd measured 10 sieverts/hr.

The largest block on the dose chart is 50 sieverts, but that was for 10m next to the core at Chernobyl.
posted by delmoi at 7:27 PM on March 29, 2012 [1 favorite]


The wages are probably related to what atchafalaya mentioned up-thread:

the dream job in commercial diving: warm, clear water, all-new equipment, easy work and union pay.

Maybe not so much on the pay, but close to family, 'regular' hours, and not what can be bone-chilling cold & low-to-no-visibility probably, for many, make up for the low pay.
posted by the man of twists and turns at 7:29 PM on March 29, 2012


The union pay bit conflicts with the article which states at least the guys at this plant aren't unionized.
posted by Mitheral at 7:31 PM on March 29, 2012


The $12/hour part is the most appalling. Assistant managers at Dunkin' Donuts don't get mangled.

I talked to a kid going through training to be an asbestos removal guy. After he was going to finish he'd be making $8 an hour. Barely above minimum wage.
posted by cjorgensen at 7:36 PM on March 29, 2012


flapjax at midnite: And I'm telling you, having worked with a number of physicists and nuclear engineers: Reactors glow blue, not orange. I'll double check when I tour my universities reactor next week. Heck, I'll see if they will let me take a picture to show you.

Uranium can glow green under UV light, and I can't remember what radon glows (Green?), but I've never heard of warm, organ light. I could be wrong; there are lots of weird emissions lines you don't normally expect, but I'm guessing that that is a light they put on the camera so it could actually see things. It could be a false colour image, but that would be just weird.

@cjorgensen: That is well below minimum wage in Canada ($9.75 an hour in Ontario as I recall)
posted by Canageek at 7:39 PM on March 29, 2012 [1 favorite]


>Just today they measured 70 sieverts/hr. Previously they'd measured 10 sieverts/hr.

That's inside the containment chamber. Which is there to contain.
posted by wilful at 7:59 PM on March 29, 2012 [1 favorite]


That's inside the containment chamber. Which is there to contain.

However they're pumping in several tons of water a day (9, iirc), and right now there's 2ft of water in the containment chamber (which is there to contain), as opposed to 32ft they expected. To be fair they have the last digit right.
posted by rainy at 8:10 PM on March 29, 2012 [1 favorite]


Of course, there's a quite sad truckload of bullshit baggage that attaches itself to the word nuclear and the word radiation.

Could the "bullshit baggage" be because the track record of corporations running nuke plants and the way some governments treat other governments over their nuke plant ambitions?

Or how about what you are labeling "bullshit baggage" isn't actually "bullshit"?

Tokyo Soil Samples Would Be Considered Nuclear Waste In The US - let me guess the bullshit here is the regulations that call such a level "waste".

All of this stuff is generally both manageable, and far far safer than the general perception.

If it is "so manageable" why do nuke plants keep getting written up for violations by the NRC?
posted by rough ashlar at 8:17 PM on March 29, 2012 [1 favorite]


I'm still mindblown by the radiation amounts puking out in Fukushima.

Alas the below quote is from 2011 and is unattributed to a named source

“A lot of the cracks came up in the ground. Massive steam is coming up from there. It’s too smoggy here. Can’t see a thing. It seems like a nuclear reaction is happening underground. Now, we are evacuating. Watch out for the direction of the wind.”

If that bold part is true - China Syndrome....and if true and if the hot material hits the water table just remember "All of this stuff is generally both manageable, and far far safer than the general perception. "

What would be interesting is to compare the data from the baby teeth Strontium-from-above-ground testing survey and the volume of Strontium Fukushima will introduce into the biosphere. The data from the baby teeth survey was "enough bullshit baggage" to get above ground testing of nuclear weapons stopped.
posted by rough ashlar at 8:34 PM on March 29, 2012 [1 favorite]


@rough ashlar: Alright, I think I'm doing this right; feel free to correct me:
((137 + 167 + 40)*3.7*10^10)/10^12/1000

Sum up the radiation measurements in pCi (Curies? Are we in the 70s again?), then convert to pBq (Decays/second). Then divide by 10^12 to get Bq, and divide by 1000 for kBq.

That would be 0.012728 kBq.

The lab I worked in last summer had a couple boxes of really old point sources we were using to calibrate equipment, since we needed really weak sources. We couldn't even detect the 0.08 kBq 22Na source as I recall, since it was so weak, and this was in the detector that could detect the trace radioactivity from said nuclear plant as it arrived in BC. If the printout is right, and I didn't screw up my math somewhere above, these levels are very tiny, and I used the highest source he showed; the smallest would be 0.001924 kBq.

And yes, I have heard a lot of complaints about nuclear waste disposal. You have to dispose of anything radioactive as waste, even if it is lower then naturally occurring substances, such as those dangerous things known as "Bananas" and "Salad Dressing".
The main reason we kept the dead sources in our lead box, and tracked their theoretically tiny radiation, is that it didn't cost us anything to keep them in the lead box, but would have been a ton of work to prove they were not radioactive at all anymore, and to fill out all of the 'cradle to the grave' paperwork to stop tracking it.

------
It would be very unlikely for a nuclear reaction to be going underground without a moderator or fuel rod arrangement. They found that in the Chernobyl disaster all the fuel melted and formed into a giant sand-uranium glass blob under the reactor, and it wasn't undergoing fission; Fission is actually reasonably hard to do on a sustained basis without a reactor. There have been a few naturally occurring reactors found from when uranium was more abundant, so it is technically possible, but more likely they were referring to the ongoing decay of fuel, which still generates heat.

Yes; This stuff getting into the water supply for a major area would be bad. However, strontium would not be too much of a worry; I know Canada has technology to stop that, since we had some spills of it decades ago. You build a membrane under ground then let the groundwater wash through it, and it pulls the strontium out of the groundwater. It is very slow, and not cheap, but it gets all the strontium out after a few passes (You build a row of barriers, then check if there is any left after each one; keep building more until it is no, pull up and replace the membranes if they get saturated).

Also being near the ocean, I imagine that the water table would not go inwards to Japan's water supply, but outwards to the ocean where it would be diluted. Not a great solution, but better then the alternative. Also judging by the US's history of dumping nuclear waste in the ocean without telling people, one that hides it from humans pretty well. (Note; I really, really don't approve of ocean dumping of waste, it is one of the worst ideas the US military had regrading nuclear disposal, but I'd rather it diluted then in the water supply).
posted by Canageek at 8:50 PM on March 29, 2012 [2 favorites]


However, strontium would not be too much of a worry

I'm interested in what level of Strontium in the biosphere as noted by the baby teeth that caused the "powers that be" to decide to stop the aboveground testing and then compare that to the local and global rises from Fukushima.

As far as I am aware - the baby teeth data is still considered 'State Secret'.
posted by rough ashlar at 9:00 PM on March 29, 2012


Have you ever been hit by radiation from space? I'm referring to "cosmic rays", subatomic particles from deep space moving at close to the speed of light.

Trick question. You're hit by these about a thousand times a second.

What few people understand is that there is a lot of natural radiation in the environment. "A lot" is relative, of course, but it has always been there and we evolved in its presence. In fact, we evolved BECAUSE it's there. The first ingredient of evolution is variation, which gives natural selection something to work on.
posted by neuron at 9:09 PM on March 29, 2012


What few people understand is that there is a lot of natural radiation in the environment.

What the hell do you mean by radiation? My lightbulb is bathing me in it right now - electromagnetic radiation. There's a fuckton of difference between a few stray neutrinos or charged protons and concentrated gamma radiation.

The pro-nuke handwaving is appalling at times. The sneering, dissembling dismissal of any notion of hazard is what finally turned me firmly anti-nuke. This shit's too serious to leave in the hands of humans with cognitive dissonance issues - the nuclear power cheerleaders have proven we as a species don't take this seriously enough.
posted by Slap*Happy at 9:30 PM on March 29, 2012 [5 favorites]


Slap*Happy: "There's a fuckton of difference between a few stray neutrinos or charged protons and concentrated gamma radiation."

There's also a fuckton of difference between a dose rate inside a reactor and the dose rate outside the reactor. Yet people are still screaming about 70 Sieverts as if it actually matters beyond how long we have to wait before it will be feasible to dismantle the thing and move it.
posted by wierdo at 10:13 PM on March 29, 2012


wierdo: it is beyond that, there's also the matter of leaking water and possibility of strong aftershocks, and strong likelihood that the other reactors are in even worse shape than #2.
posted by rainy at 10:40 PM on March 29, 2012 [1 favorite]


Oh, and it's 70Sv in the enclosure (the bulb-shaped secondary enclosure), which is outside of reactor itself. It's of course much better than if it were outside the enclosure, but worse than if it was in the reactor.

Sometimes people also refer to the reactor building itself as 'reactor'; but in this case it's an important difference in respect to cleanup efforts, leaks and other potential dangers.
posted by rainy at 10:48 PM on March 29, 2012


There's also a fuckton of difference between a dose rate inside a reactor and the dose rate outside the reactor.

There is also a metric fuckton of difference between a sealed reactor and one that has cracks and holes in it.

News reporting doesn't happen about the 400+ commercial power reactors radiation levels on the inside of those reactors because they are not open to the biosphere.

Japanese pushed to the corner to revolt Could that be hyperbole or a valid observation?
posted by rough ashlar at 12:59 AM on March 30, 2012


That's inside the containment chamber. Which is there to contain.

To contain the failure of the reactor.

Which has failed.

Considering radioactive water leaves the containment chamber - how much 'containing' is it really doing?
posted by rough ashlar at 1:06 AM on March 30, 2012


It remains true that nuclear power is the cleanest and safest form of energy currently in wide use in the U.S.

Wide-eyed writer gets filled in on the facts.
posted by Twang at 3:33 AM on March 30, 2012




Where do I get $20 to make coffee? Because that sounds way easier and slightly higher paying than my current job.

Also, to crib another quote, nuclear power is the worst, except all the rest. (As far as current technology allows.) Far as I can tell, coal plants put out more radiation (+ other awful stuff) into the environment every year than all the nuclear plants + accidents have ever. Should we work toward safer electricity? Of course. But until that happens, we need to use the safest possible for the price, and nukes seem to be that option.
posted by gjc at 6:42 AM on March 30, 2012 [2 favorites]




Slap*Happy: Gamma radiation *is* electromagnetic radiation. It is a photon, the same as a visible light ray; both are a bundle of vibrating electrical and magnetic force, one just vibrates a lot more quickly. From your comment I take it that you don't have any background in physics?

The difference (the only difference) is gamma rays have a lot more energy (keV--MeV range).
That means it will go through you instead of stopping at your skin, and can break bonds inside your body.

However, there is a lot of natural gamma radiation; I have measurements I took last summer if you'd like to see them. There is so much natural background that we actually had to shield our detector with 1.5 tons of lead to see the radiation in our samples.
You actually get a noticeably higher does of radiation each year if you live in a city or around a lot of concrete, as there are trace amounts of radioactive material in it (Radon I think, it has been a while).

Those cosmic rays we mentioned? Those have more energy then any gamma ray from a reactor. TeV. So something like a thousand times more energy then what is coming out of the reactors. You get a noticeable does of those every time you fly, but no one freaks out about that. Airline pilots and stewards don't seem to have higher cancer rates either; neither do nuclear energy workers who don't get contaminated. The human body is *good* at repairing its DNA, and if you are working at low altitude at a reactor you could still get less radiation then if you were living at high latitude and never saw a single gamma-ray of manmade radiation.
Also: Does it matter if it is radiation or chemicals giving you cancer? Fossil fuels pump out lots of toxic crud that does as much damage as radiation, and no one seems to give a damn about that.

Also: I trust the Canadian nuclear reactors: About 7 years ago they left 2 fully built nuclear reactors to rot, unused, because one safety feature didn't work as planned. Billions sunk into them, but they were not 100% safe, so they sit unused. Actually, the government tried to tell the safety people to stuff it, and fired the head of the Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission (I don't like this government), and those reactors still sit unused over a safety feature most US nuclear reactors don't even have.
Always watch how people react when big money is on the line. If they are willing to flush several billion dollars, they are probably honest about safety. If they don't....don't trust them over anything.

I am a big fan of responsible nuclear power; China building reactors scares the heck out of me, and I really don't think you should be building them in earthquake and tsunami zones, or leaving them running for our times their expected life, since everyone is too scared to build new ones to replace them.
posted by Canageek at 7:56 AM on March 30, 2012 [3 favorites]


The pro-nuke handwaving is appalling at times. The sneering, dissembling dismissal of any notion of hazard is what finally turned me firmly anti-nuke.

It is firmly grounded on bad or wrong understanding of science, though, so it has that going for it. And so what if people are getting poisoned? The important thing is that it is Safe!™ even though the locals and underpaid help find out time after time that it really isn't safe.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 8:04 AM on March 30, 2012


@Blazecock Pileon: Sorry, how is our understanding of how radiation interacts with matter wrong? We know that pretty damn well these days, and I haven't heard of any big changes in our understanding of radiation-cancer relationships since the 60s. So yes, people who are old enough to be my grandfather may have been exposed to too much radiation. Can we talk about what is going on today, or in the last generation at least?
posted by Canageek at 8:12 AM on March 30, 2012


Personal best to worst list regarding energy options and impact on environment/workers:

Conservation > Smart Consumption > Tidal > Wind > Concentrating Solar Thermal > PV Solar > Geothermal > Nuclear > Natural Gas >>> Coal

Back on topic, I find it REALLY, REALLY unfathomable that these guys don't get paid more as divers. I've worked with industrial contractors (electrical, structural, you name it) and all but the greenest of the green helpers did better than $12 an hour with $10/day per diem. Boilermakers (essentially really good welders who worked in tight spaces, and had to deal with hexafloric chromium exposure above and beyond other welders) made WAY more than $12 an hour.

If anyone can justify/explain that $12 an hour figure, and don't say non-unionized because the workers I'm referring to were non-union as well, I've had plenty of family/personal experience from both sides of that fence so spare me that lecture, it don't hold water here.
posted by RolandOfEld at 8:17 AM on March 30, 2012


I wonder if licencing is an issue. Here at least you need be licenced to work as an electrician. If these divers don't need a licence/certification or if the licence/certification is easy to get then it enables churn and collective action suppression by allowing any welder/diver to, in theory anyways, do the job. Many people will work for substandard wages if they are getting paid to do something they'd otherwise pay to do. In this case getting paid to dive.
posted by Mitheral at 8:24 AM on March 30, 2012


You'd have to have A) a diving cert and, assuming they're welders, I'd think they'd need B) an underwater welders cert/ability and if they're doing inspection stuff they they would have to be trained for that as well. Underwater welders on rigs in the gulf make great money.

You don't need any of that to be an electrical helper/firewatch/holewatch and I know for a fact the wages are better than that.

Full example, my cousin is an electrical journeyman, who has passed his ugly book test, and he's making $25+/hour and $50+/day per diem. This is in a market where cost of living isn't high either.

The paid to dive thing make sense, but working in the reactor *can't* be that exciting on a 'I love diving' basis. It seems more like the NASA training tanks where they simulate zero gravity. Floating around slowly, deliberate movements where a mistake will cost you your job, and waving a probe in front of you.... wow, what fun!
posted by RolandOfEld at 8:30 AM on March 30, 2012


A welder-diver is a certified welder and commercial diver, capable of performing tasks associated with commercial sub sea work, weld set up and preparation, and who has the ability to weld in accordance with the AWS D3.6M, Underwater Welding Code, wet or dry, and perform other weld-related activities.

If you are already certified as a "commercial diver," contact companies that offer underwater welding services and train to their requirements. Underwater welding is a skill you have to master once you obtain the basic commercial diving skills.

If you are certified as a "scuba diver" (e.g., NAUI, PADI, etc.), please note that sport dive training does not include the safe use of commercial diving equipment, offshore commercial work environment/safety, and other education as recommended by the Association of Diving Contractors Consensus Standards for Commercial Diving Operations.


Salaries for welder-divers cover a wide range, from $100,000 to $200,000 per year.

Citation

Yea, something doesn't add up here.
posted by RolandOfEld at 8:36 AM on March 30, 2012




It is a photon, the same as a visible light ray; both are a bundle of vibrating electrical and magnetic force, one just vibrates a lot more quickly.

Really? It's just like the light coming from my CFL bulb? I WAS NOT AWARE! It must be totally safe!

Oh, wait, I was aware. Microwaves and infrared, too. I was also was pointing out that those who equate harmless levels of radiation with what's involved in a nuclear plant are dissemblers and charlatans, willing to use cheap and irrelevant points to dance away from the critical issues of radiation exposure. Like this:

From your comment I take it that you don't have any background in physics?

See? I can't take you seriously now. You'll say anything to make your point. This does not inspire confidence in the pro-nuke position.
posted by Slap*Happy at 9:16 AM on March 30, 2012 [1 favorite]


Canageek: "Can we talk about what is going on today, or in the last generation at least?"

I'm sorry, that's simply not possible. The freakout brigade is not interested.
posted by wierdo at 9:22 AM on March 30, 2012 [1 favorite]


"Can we talk about what is going on today, or in the last generation at least?"

Not possible. Proponents of nuclear energy are just not interested in inconvenient facts about corporate malfeasance, people getting sickened, government corruption at the highest levels, and how land is rendered unusable for generations. Until these facts cease to be dismissed, there's little chance at a rational, fact-based discussion.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 9:50 AM on March 30, 2012


You can't talk about the risks of nuclear energy whole ignoring the risks from other sources of energy, though.
posted by empath at 9:53 AM on March 30, 2012 [1 favorite]


Yeah, I can't say that I can get too upset about the failure mode of nuclear power when the normal operating condition for a coal plant is to poison areas downwind with heavy metals. It took over half a century to have the first major radiation release from a commercial nuclear plant with a containment structure and the lesson learned is pretty easy to apply.

How many people died from Fukushima? How many uranium miners died last year? Now look at coal. Which is killing more people?
posted by wierdo at 10:33 AM on March 30, 2012


Of course, that completely misses what I'm annoyed about. What I'm really annoyed about is that this thread about divers has turned into another fucking discussion about Fukushima.
posted by wierdo at 10:34 AM on March 30, 2012 [2 favorites]


What I'm really annoyed about is that this thread about divers has turned into another fucking discussion about Fukushima.

Ditto, cuz the pay rate thing is quite vexing and seems abnormal to me. Lots of room to discuss things about the OP's articles without going all "PRO/ANTI XXX or YYY".
posted by RolandOfEld at 10:41 AM on March 30, 2012


Well, for good reason, people who really like talking about how awesome nuke is don't like talking about how really awesome it sometimes isn't. But fair enough, let's talk about nuclear diver wages.

The poor salaries and hazardous working conditions associated with this kind of contractor work are really more on point anyway. $10 extra a day for doing the really dirty work? Just another example of how nuclear tech is no energy panacea and nuclear production only compares so favorably to other alternatives when you ignore countless externalities and hidden costs and gloss over the huge tax-funded start-up investment costs to the public. Not that black lung is a better alternative, obviously. But until Fukushima is actually resolved, you shouldn't be too surprised/indignant if it still comes up in tangentially related discussions of nuclear power.
posted by saulgoodman at 11:15 AM on March 30, 2012 [1 favorite]


What I'm really annoyed about is that this thread about divers has turned into another fucking discussion about Fukushima.

Yes lets never mention Fukushima again because that puts Nuclear power in a bad light.
posted by rough ashlar at 2:39 PM on March 30, 2012 [2 favorites]


I sent the first link to my father-in-law who works for the NRC. His response:
Interesting - and not totally accurate. There are 104 operating power plants. I think the author was referring to sites. One of the commenters correctly identified that much of the same problem occurs with any power plants that use water for cooling - and I wonder if the diving controls are as stringent as at the nuclear plants. And the discussion of radiation indicates a lack of knowledge. Most dives involve no radioactivity. Even the dive to repair cables would have been in water that contained little radioactive material. The principle concern would have been nearby radioactive hardware. Still, the author got into a lot of the plant and the pictures were good.
posted by Confess, Fletch at 7:03 PM on March 30, 2012


rough ashlar: "Yes lets never mention Fukushima again because that puts Nuclear power in a bad light."

How about let's mention it when we're having a discussion about Fukushima, not people who dive in and around nuclear power plants. Doesn't it annoy you when people drag their Obama or Apple hatred into posts that are only loosely related?
posted by wierdo at 8:36 PM on March 30, 2012


Doesn't it annoy you when people drag their Obama or Apple hatred into posts that are only loosely related?

Hmm. A post about the hazards of work in nuclear power plants and a nuclear power plant which is at the moment a particularly hazardous one doesn't seem "only loosely related" to me. Anyway, to expect practically any current discussion about nuclear power-related topics to magically not touch at all upon this earth-shakingly (no pun intended) important nuclear story at Fukushima is surely unrealistic. It's in the news and in people's minds, and it's shaping up to be the longest-lasting and biggest nuclear disaster the world has yet seen. People are going to talk about it in a nuclear thread at Metafilter, no matter that you'd prefer they didn't.
posted by flapjax at midnite at 11:28 PM on March 30, 2012 [1 favorite]


@Blazecock Pileon: Sorry, how is our understanding of how radiation interacts with matter wrong? We know that pretty damn well these days, and I haven't heard of any big changes in our understanding of radiation-cancer relationships since the 60s. So yes, people who are old enough to be my grandfather may have been exposed to too much radiation. Can we talk about what is going on today, or in the last generation at least?
It's not just you, it's "pro-nuke" people in general. Before Fukushima, everyone said reactors of that type could not melt down, because the reaction would stop as soon as the core dropped.

The problem, though, is that was not correct. Even though the main reaction stopped, the energy output from secondary decay was enough to cause meltdown in the event of the cooling pool boiling off. Which is what happened.

The same thing is true of thorium reactors, which now people are running around saying can't melt down.

Anyway, it's annoying. Pro nuke people also run around acting like everyone who disagrees with them is anti-science, yet, their science is not actually that good.

It's true that oil and coal are pretty bad, environmentally. In fact a lot of people probably do get sick from oil and coal electrical generation.

However, at the current prices, nuclear energy is just not very cost effective compared to solar. Global energy consumption is about 15 terrawatts. If you assume the equivalent of 5h of 'peak capacity' equivalent per day, over the whole year you would need $75 trillion dollars to power the entire world with solar energy. Over 20 years, that comes out to just $3.75 trillion a year, if you assume that the price collapse over the past few years stops, which is actually unlikely. That works out to just 5.9% of global GDP. And it's only a little more then what we currently spend on oil alone. (That's just the cost of the raw panels, though, not the installation)

How much would it cost to convert all power generation to nuclear over 20 years?
You can't talk about the risks of nuclear energy whole ignoring the risks from other sources of energy, though. -- empath

How many people died from Fukushima? How many uranium miners died last year? Now look at coal. Which is killing more people? --wierdo
What does coal have to do with anything? Why compare nuclear to coal? No one wants coal, no one is advocating coal. Coal is bad and everyone is against it. The question is why nuclear? Once we get to the point where all daytime energy production is handled by solar, it might make sense to look at nuclear for nighttime energy production. But how would that compare to using a global energy grid to transfer energy from the day side of the earth to the night side?
posted by delmoi at 11:07 PM on March 31, 2012


Doesn't it annoy you when people drag their Obama or Apple hatred into posts that are only loosely related?

I don't know what post you're reading, but this thread is about the consequences of cleaning up after nuclear energy. If anything, it's the constant pro-nuclear boosterism that is off-topic and it would be just awesome, frankly, if you could take the cheerleading somewhere else.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 11:09 PM on March 31, 2012


not people who dive in and around nuclear power plants.

Then what does a stick based comic called xkcd then have to do with the topic?

At the point where someone claims the safety risks of nuclear power is not understood and is quite safe, why isn't mentioning Three MIle Island/Rickover, Sheffield, Chernobyl, Hanford, Indian Point, the published documents showing the desire of pro-nukers to spin Fukushima because the event was bad PR or even the willingness of pro-nukers to take to bones from the dead and replace them with broomsticks to show the utter bunk of the safety risks of nuclear power is not understood and is quite safe?

How should the claim of "safe" be challenged?
posted by rough ashlar at 4:06 AM on April 1, 2012


ATTENTION THREAD POLICE - this doesn't deal with divers. You may wish to skip

But how would that compare to using a global energy grid to transfer energy from the day side of the earth to the night side?

It would make for an interesting world as the energy of various nations would be directly and imminently tied to others. If trade between nations means less chance for warfare between nations, such could be a boon.

But such a plan (at this time) needs metallic resources to act as worldwide conductors and they are in short supply. In fact - there is an attempt to monitize the more popular one: http://aocsmint.com/copper.html?limit=24 and (note the atlas shrugged medallion on the front page)
posted by rough ashlar at 5:32 AM on April 1, 2012


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