Apple & opponents square off over proposed Irish datacenter's distance from nuclear sites

Posted:
in iCloud
Apple is once again finding itself on the defensive about its proposed Irish datacenter, with some critics charging that the company picked an arbitrary safety distance from nuclear facilities.

A rendering of the proposed datacenter.
A rendering of the proposed datacenter.


Apple wants the datacenter to be at least 320 kilometers (about 198.8 miles) from such facilities, according to a document seen by Business Insider. A number of people opposed to the proposed location -- near Athenry in County Galway -- have suggested that Apple picked the safety distance to avoid choosing other plots, remarking that Apple doesn't apply the same policy in the U.S., and that other multinationals like Google and Microsoft don't use this limit either.

One opponent pointed out that nuclear facilities are in fact within the suggested safety range, something Apple's own Oscar Gonzalez acknowledged in a witness statement. He specifically cited the closed Wylfa power station in Wales, which he identified as 305 kilometers away, although BI's own measurements put the distance at 280 kilometers.

Attempting to rationalize discrepancies, Gonzalez said that the company's site selection criteria has evolved in the wake of disasters like Fukushima, and that some U.S. sites might not have been chosen under current policies. He added that Apple is trying to minimize the threats to its infrastructure, but "reluctantly accepts the increased risk" if a nuclear facility is within the safety range of a site that otherwise meets selection criteria.

Although County Galway's council has already approved planning permission for a datacenter, that decision is currently under appeal. Many people have raised concerns about potential environmental and power consumption issues.
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Comments

  • Reply 1 of 31
    thewhitefalconthewhitefalcon Posts: 4,453member
    Didn't realize the Irish were so whiny. 
    EsquireCatsanantksundarampatchythepiratelatifbpjohn_dowentommikelebaconstang
  • Reply 2 of 31
    bobschlobbobschlob Posts: 1,074member
    AI now citing BI.
    And we have arrived at a new low.
    anantksundaramcalipscooter63irelandjay-tbaconstang
  • Reply 3 of 31
    EsquireCatsEsquireCats Posts: 640member
    I was finding the residents of Lisheenkyle a little nutty sounding, I assumed it was just a bias of being on a mac news site. So I went to the Irishtimes.com, and nope, they really are batshit crazy, go read it yourself.

    While I can chalk up some complaints as just a matter of misunderstanding and some need for clarification of a development proposal (nothing special there), some of the listed concerns are utterly absurd, hysterical nonsense and show zero effort into actually understanding the application.

    Meanwhile Apple are adding more trees, a public walkway, providing a classroom for the nearby local school and powering the facility with green power.. oh and the local council get to enjoy the boost to the local economy by the 850 million Euro project that will employ 300 people. The other available location is in Denmark and it wouldn't surprise me if the Danes are salivating at the thought of Ireland losing out.
    edited June 2016 anantksundaramcalipatchythepiratepscooter63ai46muppetryjay-tjony0baconstang
  • Reply 4 of 31
    macxpressmacxpress Posts: 4,979member
    bobschlob said:
    AI now citing BI.
    And we have arrived at a new low.

    Why, BI is so pro Apple! /s
    ireland
  • Reply 5 of 31
    Yes. And electromagnetic pulse does not travel that distance.
  • Reply 6 of 31
    lkrupplkrupp Posts: 7,324member
    It’s the same around the world. Somebody is always going to object to whatever is proposed. The motives may be NIMBY, kickbacks, taxes, environmental, ideological, you name it. The Irish are no different than anybody else.
    ai46NumNutsjay-tcalibaconstang
  • Reply 7 of 31
    spice-boyspice-boy Posts: 980member
    Apple defenders here, if this was going up in your backyard would you let Apple do what ever it wishes? 
    jackansiNumNutsxixo
  • Reply 8 of 31
    melgrossmelgross Posts: 31,909member
    I don't understand the power consumption issues. While in a number of places Apple does buy power, their goal is to produce all the power themselves, or to use commercial renewable sources. What's the problem here? Despite my looking, I can't find a conclusive article about this.
    jay-tcalibaconstang
  • Reply 9 of 31
    melgrossmelgross Posts: 31,909member
    lkrupp said:
    It’s the same around the world. Somebody is always going to object to whatever is proposed. The motives may be NIMBY, kickbacks, taxes, environmental, ideological, you name it. The Irish are no different than anybody else.

    It isn't in their backyard. Backyard means a block away, or so. Ireland badly needs the employment, and overall, in Ireland, Apple is a big employer, with over 6,000 employees. For a country with just about 5 million people, that's a lot of jobs. That's the equivalent to 372,000 jobs here, and the number is rising.
    edited June 2016 latifbpjohn_dowenjay-tcalijony0baconstang
  • Reply 10 of 31
    eightzeroeightzero Posts: 2,493member
    spice-boy said:
    Apple defenders here, if this was going up in your backyard would you let Apple do what ever it wishes? 
    For a Price, Ugarte...for a price.

    Maybe this isn't as bad as building a fission plant at sea level on a fault zone. Who would do something that blatantly stupid? Wait...
    ai46palominecalibaconstang
  • Reply 11 of 31
    radarthekatradarthekat Posts: 3,133moderator
    spice-boy said:
    Apple defenders here, if this was going up in your backyard would you let Apple do what ever it wishes? 

    ---

    Um, Apple is building a data center, about as benign a neighbor as anything in the business and industrial world.  Maybe you read it wrong and think Apple is building a nuclear power plant?  
    pscooter63ai46calibaconstang
  • Reply 12 of 31
    latifbplatifbp Posts: 544member
    Offer all residents in the area a 6 pack of Guinness.
    viclauyycbaconstang
  • Reply 13 of 31
    foggyhillfoggyhill Posts: 4,767member
    Right.. Because their own numbers are not arbitrary...

    Also, good grief they're building a data center! Not some kind of missile launcher that will be taken out by Russians in case of nuclear war (sic).


    ai46calibaconstang
  • Reply 14 of 31
    foggyhillfoggyhill Posts: 4,767member
    eightzero said:
    spice-boy said:
    Apple defenders here, if this was going up in your backyard would you let Apple do what ever it wishes? 
    For a Price, Ugarte...for a price.

    Maybe this isn't as bad as building a fission plant at sea level on a fault zone. Who would do something that blatantly stupid? Wait...
    If the Japanese hadn't built the backup power and panels for their cooling system below sea level!, the Japanese plant would have survived the earthquake and Tsunami just fine. That's like putting the generator for your sump pump in your basement., Because the panels were all wrecked they couldn't even connect external backup power until it was too late.

    The plant itself resisted the 9.0 earthquake (one of the largest all time) and the Tsunami (biggest in 1000 years) mostly just fine.


    edited June 2016 muppetry
  • Reply 15 of 31
    foggyhillfoggyhill Posts: 4,767member
    spice-boy said:
    Apple defenders here, if this was going up in your backyard would you let Apple do what ever it wishes? 
    They already have a god damn nuclear power plant in their "back yard" (sic), so not sure what the hell your talking about.
    pscooter63cali
  • Reply 16 of 31
    volcanvolcan Posts: 1,791member
    melgross said:
    I don't understand the power consumption issues. While in a number of places Apple does buy power, their goal is to produce all the power themselves, or to use commercial renewable sources. What's the problem here? Despite my looking, I can't find a conclusive article about this.
    Read the article linked: power consumption

    It is a little complicated and contradictory. Although Apple has said they would buy renewable power from a private source to offset their power consumption, the actual power will come from the national grid and ultimately use approximately 8% of all the available electricity in Ireland. In contradictory statements they have also said they plan to use 18 generators on site.
  • Reply 17 of 31
    NumNutsNumNuts Posts: 14member
    The planning process here in Ireland...
    1. Application to the local government. 
    2. That decision can be appealed to a national appeals board - An Bord Pleanála - under certain conditions. If it's a certain kind of case of large case, this is often a public hearing. 
    3. Under certain conditions, ABP's finding can be appealed to the High Court. 

    Many cases go to the second stage. It's not particularly unusual and certainly doesn't mean any unusual whining is going on.  :) ABP can only determine whether something was in breach of that local government's own rules or national rules. 

    The electricity aspect is simply arguing that even with an overarching permission, each of the 8 phases should make a sub-application at the time to ensure the grid has been suitably updated in the meantime. (Each phase being about 1% of the national grid.) Makes perfect sense. 

    Presumably even if they're grid-powered, they'd have back-up generators? Hence the 18?
    edited June 2016
  • Reply 18 of 31
    jfc1138jfc1138 Posts: 3,090member
    Yes. And electromagnetic pulse does not travel that distance.
    Interesting idea what would occur in a nuclear power plant malfunction. Here's a hint? They. Are. Not. Bombs. 
    edited June 2016 cnocbui
  • Reply 19 of 31
    volcanvolcan Posts: 1,791member
    jfc1138 said:
    Interesting idea what would occur in a nuclear power plant malfunction. Here's a hint? They. Are. Not. Bombs. 
    However, in a meltdown or explosion such as with Chernobyl or Fukushima, radioactive particles covered several thousands of square miles. Since a data center is usually breathing in hundreds of cubic feet of outside air every second, a radiation disaster could contaminate the interior of the building very quickly unlike a normal residence where you could close all the windows to help mitigate the contamination.
    edited June 2016 palomine
  • Reply 20 of 31
    freerangefreerange Posts: 1,589member
    bobschlob said:
    AI now citing BI.
    And we have arrived at a new low.
    Indeed. No journalistic integrity apparently.
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