Yeah I know what your saying but, I think looking forward we have to deal with practical reality...what will you replace them with ? I don't see future reactors being as dangerous as you suggest, could there be a accident...sure. Then the question becomes how bad and so forth. I guess we have to weigh the benefit to the cost(being potential disaster of some kind). I don't know what the answer is...wind and solar are impractical, can't have hydroelectric in areas that have no water, coal is offensive to the global warming people.etc...
Firstly, it takes a little more than a loss of power to reach a "meltdown."
There are concepts in inherent design here at play that would literally take weeks to explain.
The reactor in Japan was/is a Boiling Water Reactor (GE) and the reactor in Omaha is a Pressurized Water Reactor.
Both are similar in design, but the PWR has a separate cooling/electrical generation system (separated by a series of heat exchangers).
Comparing either of these to Chernobyl is simply ignorant. Chernobyl was a high temperature gas reactor.
In the simplest terms....in a gas reactor, the moderator (a key component of the fission reaction) is large amounts of carbon. The coolant (which is separate), typically Helium, serves to cool the reactor, but the reaction is independent of the coolant.
In lightwater reactors (BWR and PWR) the coolant and the moderator are the same. That way, if there's a loss of coolant, there's a corresponding loss of reaction.
We saw this concept play out at 3mile, where the reactor containment held and the inherent design actually did it's job. 3Mile was/is seen as a failure to opponents, but it's actually a success story. It showed we could have a catastrophic failure and NOT have a total meltdown and rupture of the containment.
1) Coal fired plants release more radioactive waste than nuclear plants. The radioactive components contained in coal (K, Potassium) and such, are released, even after "scrubbing."
2) More people die in a single year from the entire process of coal fired electricity than have died in the entire history of nuclear power. Soak that in.....
There are thousands of plants operating around the world and have been for decades. It's LITERALLY to the point where picketers and protestors give up after 30 years of living next to nuke plants.
3) We don't even harness the full potential of nuclear power (breeding reactors) because we have a fear of creating weapons grade fissile materials. The US currently has a policy against breeder reactors which produce Plutonium and other fuel grades which can be then used in other plants......
Our current state of nuclear power extracts approximately 1 percent of the available energy out of the fissionable material. Breeding reactors extract orders of magnitude more. You could chalk that up to a unfortunate reality.
4) Obviously, coal not only produces more radiation, but also produces more sulfates and nitrates (acid rain) but massive amounts of greenhouse emissions (CO2). The thermal pollution is comparable to nuclear.
Nuclear power produces spent fuel rods (usually locked in casks) which are politically sensitive.....kinda like prisons. Everyone wants criminals in jail, but no one wants a prison in their neighborhood.
5) The harvesting of natural gas and coal are 1000x more disruptive to the environment than harvesting of fissionable materials (Uranium). The typical chemical reaction is on the order of 6KeV. The typical nuclear reaction is on the order of 200MeV. Essentially, you get a lot more "bang/buck" in terms of weight or volume with nuclear reactions.
The following user says Thank You to RM99 for this post:
I'll add, that the largest threat to our planet isn't pollution....it isn't greenhouse gases or global warming (at least not directly).
The largest threat to our planet is uncontrolled human population.
Given that we're not going to "solve" that issue (or even address it) anytime soon (probably not until it's way too late)....
The ONLY viable energy source (to meet exponentially growing demand) long term is a Nuclear solution.
That solution is most likely NOT fission.
Assuming that fusion is possible.....(and we're getting closer and closer every day to a useful, practical and viable fusion solution), the industry/market that's going to get us there is primarily nuclear.
We don't get advancements in fusion technology out of alternative energy solutions. We get them through the continued experience and research involved and resulting from our collective history of nuclear power.
I'm no nuclear engineer, but using shredded newspaper to contain a catastrophic nuclear event does not foster feelings of confidence for me in the industry. I'm no fan of coal power either, but until the nuclear industry can instill that confidence in general public, it is going to scare the pants off of the layman.
Again, you're comparing FUNDAMENTALLY different designs.
There were some HUGE differences in the design between the HTGR and the light water reactors used by the West.
In an HTGR, the coolant (Helium) flows through the reactor which is being moderated by Carbon. "Moderated" isn't the term you would think it to be. In nuke terms, "moderated" means that the emitted nuetrons are "moderated" or slowed to the point where they can successfully split the fuel atoms. If the nuetrons are too fast, they don't work.
In the case of Chernobyl, you had a situation akin to a person who uses their right foot to step on the gas and their left foot to step on the brake. You have a scenario where it's possible to both step on the gas AND the brake at the same time.
In the light water reactors.....it's akin to the one legged driver ONLY using their right foot. In order to step on the brake, they HAVE to remove their foot from the accelerator to brake.
When you remove the coolant from a BWR/PWR, the reaction begins to immediately subside and the residual energy released, decays.
Now, obviously a sudden or acute loss of coolant is still not good, as the latent energy released will overheat components and begin a "meltdown" but the reaction is waning. THAT is exactly what happened at 3 Mile. Instead of having to spend days/weeks dumping Boride on the reactor with helicopters, like at Chernobyl.
There's other ineherent safety features as well. In western modern reactors, the "control rods" aka the brakes which stop the reaction are suspended from above, so a loss in power means that gravity pulls the control rods fully into place.
The catastrophe in Japan was due largely in part to the fact that they cannot place the reactor in a seizmicly stable area. The entire country is an Earthquake zone. I don't care how robust you build a structure, the right size Earthquake is going to have everyone singing the blues.
Ask yourself how many people have died at Fossil power plants....it's 1000x more than nuclear plants. We've been operating nuclear plants for decades without significant incident.
There's literally SO MUCH regulation that it's now making nuclear power economically disadvantaged. The cost to open a new nuke plant is astronomical. One retard who wants to do an "environmental" study to determine if some obscure rodent or insect is going to be harmed can delay or stop construction of new plants. Building them is a VERY risky venture (financially) because it's such a politically sensitive issue.
In the end, the benefits greatly outweigh the alternatives. For every person that's died from a Nuclear accident, there are literally THOUSANDS that die from coal mining operations, fuel oil refining, coal and diesel plant accidents, etc, etc, etc.