Nuclear power

Now, I hope everyone reading this already knows that nuclear power is a bad, bad choice. But, in case I am wrong, I offer this excellent article put together by the Co-op America team: http://www.coopamerica.org/programs/climate/dirtyenergy/nuclear.cfm

I find the entire story to be pretty sensible, but #7 really strikes a chord. Do we really want to switch from nonrenewable fossil fuels to nonrenewable plutonium? What would be the point? As far as I can see, the only reason to do so would be to make money for a chosen few at the expense of the vast majority of Americans (and humans). Hm. Let me think about that for a moment. Sounds like something I don’t want to be part of.

#3 is another favorite. We as a nation are so paranoid about national security right now; why create more sites for terrorist attacks? Don’t we have enough of those?

Let’s just discard the notion of nuclear power and install more solar panels. I mean, with global warming and all, solar power should be even easier to harvest!

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2 Responses to “Nuclear power”

  1. Ken Says:

    But all the points in link are wrong or spun.

    For instance, #7. Uranium is a finite resource, but it can be readily breed from thorium which is five times as abundant as tin in the crust.

    If you want to use Chernobyl as an argument, I would simply direct you to the wikipedia article on the accident and challenge you not to say, ‘you’ve to to be kidding me, what in the hell were they thinking.” at least once per line. The argument isn’t that we are going to be building graphite moderated reactors sans containment. The reactors that were built in the west in the 1960s were safer than those that the soviets built. In those designs, engineers had to work to keep the reactor from going critical, in the west’s designs the engineers have to work to keep the reactor from shutting down.

    The increase in efficiency of nuclear power plants is remarkable. The first plants produced power in the 10-100 megawatt range. The new EPR reactors produce power at 1.65 Gigawatt range. The AP1000 only comes in at 1.1 GW, but its burn-up is pretty impressive. These are advanced generation III reactors. Generation IV reactors will be even more impressive. Importantly, unlike wind and solar, nuclear power is capable of providing base load capacity. The only real alternatives are geothermal, hydro, oil and coal. We get 50% of our power from coal. Coal fired plants spew out mercury which Bush’s EPA claims will endanger 60,000 people per year for neurological defects. That’s just the mercury. Coal sits in the ground and acts like a huge britta filter for the ground water passing through it. Hg, Pb, U, Th, etc get concentrated. Then it’s burned and a lot of these heavy and radioactive metals goes right out the stack landing in your drinking water. I need not mention carbon dioxide. By comparison, fuel rods decaying in storage seems pretty benign. When it was taken out of the earth the fuel was radioactive. In a thousand years it is actually less radioactive than the ore it was derived from. If it is sealed in glass and sunk to the bottom of the ocean (where glass last for thousands of years), what is the real harm? The buildings downtown geiger at over 3,000 counts per minute. The smoke detector keeping you safe relies on “nuclear waste” called Americium, a product of plutonium bombardment. This ‘nuclear waste” has been distributed across the united states and sets a geigar counter off screaming (otherwise it wouldn’t work). You probably pass under it twenty times a day. Do you think they ever get thrown into land fills? Ever know anyone treated with another “nuclear waste” product, Iodine131? They don’t keep you in the hospital under containment, 80% is excreted in the urine. It seems like you need to get a grip.

    It might seem nice to advocate solar power, but even in the case of Nanosolar’s thin film technology, this cannot replace the base-load on the basis of the economics involved. We REQUIRE Giga Watts and Giga Watts of base load power, to think that wind and solar can contribute a sizable fraction is not based in reality. Neither of these technologies are carbon neutral, both require mining and manufacturing that is energy intensive and are so inefficient in terms of production that they simply don’t live up to their hype. By opposing nuclear (a scary threat) you are in fact advocating the burning of coal (a very real and deadly threat).

    Let’s improve nuclear technology and find better ways of re-using the reactor by products and disposing of that which we cannot use in safe and responsible ways.

  2. fractone Says:

    I admit that I am not an expert on any type of energy, and I must say that you do seem admirably well-informed.

    However, believing that nuclear energy is a bad choice DOES NOT mean I think we should stick with the current coal-powered system. Burning coal is an awful idea, too. We should keep searching for the right solution until we find it.

    I am curious that you are so dismissive of solar and wind-power options. What is your basis for believing they are not viable? Is it simply that they have not reached base-power capacity? That could simply be a matter of advancing the currently available technology, or using several types of power-production in a complementary manner.

    Perhaps it is time to rethink the idea of base power. Do we need to produce power regardless of demand? Would changing the way we produce and supply energy cause people to rethink their use of it? Could it be that people would value power more if it were not so readily available?

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