The bottom line is that most of life and decisions are the lesser of evils.
Would I love to live in a world with no nuclear technology? Sure. Are there risks associated with nuclear power? Certainly.
But when you OBJECTIVELY examine the pro's/con's of the contribution of nuclear power, you quickly realize that it's here to stay.
All these opponents have no viable alternative when considering safety, cost, pollution, etc.
Unless you completely modify the energy consumption of individuals accross the US and across the world, and unless you have a complete and total revolution with respect to energy, it's here to stay.
In fact, I could and have made credible arguments as to why fossil power systems are not only MORE DANGEROUS, end up killing more people, but also wreck the environment 1000x more than nuclear power.
The secondary implications of nuclear power are more obscure.
Like I said, without a viable nuke program, you take what little R/D expenditures exist and cut them dramatically.
Given the facts....that our population (both US and Global) continues to grow exponentially, that our "efficiency" with respect to energy consumption improves but is orders of magnitude less than the increase in consumption...
THE ONLY VIABLE LONG TERM ENERGY SOLUTION FOR THE FUTURE IS FUSION.
Unless we're wiped out by a modern plague or people learn to live like the Amish, we're going to need a source of energy that's clean, cheap, abundant, etc.
Hydroelectric is tapped. Fossil fuel is undesirable because it's costly, dangerous, and pollutes the environment (and limited in supply). Alternative energies are largely not viable economically (i.e. they cost more per unit of energy than fossil or nuclear) aren't practical (in some sort of application issue) or in most cases, are simply not abundant enough. Wind is similar to hydro, eventually, you'll tap out.
Solar is showing promise, but won't become economically competitive until fossil fuel supply/demand drive the prices up to a break even point. Even in states like FL that offer huge subsidies for residential solar power systems, it's STILL more expensive (even long term) than simply sucking off the grid.
I imagine that like the concept of "lesser evils" the other concept at play will be "necessity is the mother of invention or understanding."
When people begin to think of watching television the way we used to talk on long distance phones (by the $/minute), and when a hot shower costs you an hour of wages, then people will begin to "open up" and expand their horizons with respect to nuclear and other alternative energies.
But like I said, WITHOUT a nuke energy program, you'd have a whole lot less R/D investment. You'd have a whole lot intellectual investment (i.e. people majoring in nuclear sciences and engineering) and all those are necessary to bring about the REAL and long lasting revolution in energy, which is fusion.
We get closer and closer to a viable fusion power system every year. Even considering the resistance by established powers (in fossil fuels) and the fear/ignorance of the masses to anything that has the word "nuclear" in it.
People fear what they do not understand. When autos were first built, people thought if you traveled faster than a certain speed, your face would peel off.
People STILL have an illogical aversion to flying (even though it's statistically safer than driving).
We didn't allow full food irradiation in this country until a couple of decades ago (even though each year tens of thousands of people died from food borne illnesses) all because your average person wasn't educated enough to understand beyond a simple word.
Again, nuclear power IS SAFER THAN FOSSIL POWER. We kill more people in one year in mining accidents and tear up more of the environment in a single MONTH through C02, Acid Rain, Stip Mining, Oil Spills, Radioactive K release, etc, etc, via fossil fuel energy, than in the entire history of nuclear energy.
The fact that we've operated for 40 years and people can't even name more than 3 accidents is a tribute to safety.
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The uneconomic nature of nuclear power, and the lack of energy gain compared to cheap oil, are two huge reasons for society to quit flirting with more nuclear power, never mind the catastrophic record and certainty of more to come. Somehow the evidence and true track record of dozens of accidents and perhaps 300,000 to nearly 1,000,000 deaths from just Chernobyl, are brushed aside by corporate media and most governments. So, imaginative means of helping to end nuclear proliferation are crucial, the most careful and reasonable-sounding ones being included in summary form in Nuclear Roulette.
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The economics and safety of nuclear power in USA are undeniably superior to fossil fuel in USA; it all depends on where you get your information. What makes nuclear energy looking more like Taliban than the fellow who murdered 70 people in Norway is the politics of it. Instead of being part of our national security and essential for survival, unfortunately it has become a tool for politicians the likes of Harry R. to get re-elected. The unfortunate recent events in Japan were the result of a natural event with a probability of once in 10,000 years and complacency of the Japan's nuclear regulatory agency.
In USA, the nuclear energy safety record, cost, and impact on the environment are impeccable relative to that of the fossil fuel. If you know anything about the Nuclear Regulatory Commission you would appreciate the degree of scrutiny placed on this industry. Unfortunately, even that agency has recently become politicized by Harry R. pressing Obama to place one of his goonies as the Chairman, infuriating the Staff. What will make nuclear energy expensive in the future is the amount of red tape and politics that prolong the licensing process to 15 years and makes it economically unacceptable for any investor, for a project that will take only four years to design, build, and operate.
Those people who bring us internet, laser surgery, titanium implants, nuclear medicine, and material for fancy modern conveniences at our national labs are the same people who worked so hard over 25 years to characterize a mined geologic repository for nuclear waste in Nevada that was killed overnight by none other than Harry R.
What we need are a few brave politicians that propose and pass legislation to make nuclear energy as important to our national security as the armed forces so that we can build and operate them based on science and not by the politics of a handful of fear mongering politicians.
I just retired from 35 years as a nuclear engineer in nuclear design and operation industry including months of sleepless nights during the TMI-2 accident performing analysis to keep other similar plants online and our lights on. So, please indulge me and don't beat me hard.
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Why is that? Because you say so? And because you have 35 years of experience as an engineering drudge, performing other worldly safety analyses within management dictated constraints that carefully exclude real world worst case scenarios?
The economics suck. That's why until the recent new government subsidies there hasn't been an order for a nuclear plant in the US for 25 years. Without heavy government subsidies the whole enterprise is DOA. And it cannot exist without the Price Anderson Act since no private insurer can cover the magnitude of he potential risk.
Where should we put those hot spent fuel rods again?
Repeat after me: when a nuclear power plant or actively cooled spent fuel pool loses electric power, the whole thing inevitably melts down. Like Fukushima. That's insanity, not safety.
Blame it all on the liberals and the environmentalists, not the financiers who refuse to bankroll this fiasco without complete government guarantees.
We dodged a bullet this time. The next time.. who knows.
I would try to actually compare apples to apples. My guess is that both sides use whatever stats make their side look better. But, I don't know what figures to look at, so I only have a list of questions. Of course, I don't know what I don't know, so these questions may be off-base:
What are the capital costs to get a new nuclear plant with x watt capacity up and running? How much of those costs have, historically, been subsidized? How can we control for the cost of taxes, regulations, permitting, etc?
What are the capital costs of a new conventional power generation plant with x watt capacity? How much of those costs have, historically, been subsidized? How can we control for the cost of taxes, regulations, permitting, etc?
What are the operation and upkeep costs of the various methods? Let's look at the total over a 30-year period. Just pulled that out because people can put that into perspective with their own large capital purchases. Are those costs subsidized? How can we control for the cost of taxes, regulations, permitting, etc?
What are the health effects of using the different methods? How many deaths and disabling accidents occur along the coal/hydroelectric/conventional supply chain for power? How many along the nuclear power supply chain? How many deaths and disabling accidents per x wattage for the different methods?
I'm sure there are other useful questions, but I've got to get back to work...
There have been 3 deaths attributable to nuclear power incidents in the United States. 3....
I'm trying to find safety data to get an idea as to the number of plant years of operation in the united states, but I'm betting it's on the order of 3,000 to 5,000.
This hysteria and fear surrounding nuclear power is nearly as absurd as the hysteria and fear surrounding performance enhancing drugs.
The media would have you believe that steroids are some monstrous killer.....when in fact it barely registers on safety data at all (in terms of numbers of deaths).
The point here isn't so much that something is safe, but it's many times safer than other, more dangerous aspects.
Alcohol and cigarettes kill 1,000,000 times more people every year, but they're perfectly legal. In the meantime, but that's because they have lobbyists and entrenched establishment (and pay taxes) which ensure they're here to stay.
Fossil fuel power is similar. You're probably 1000 times more likely to die from a fossil fuel incident (train car derailment, tractor trailer accident hauling fuel, plant explosion, secondary health affects, etc) than nuclear power.
Using Chernobyl is simply unfair and apples to oranges. Chernobyl was a HTGR, and as I've already said, was/is fundamentally different than the reactor designed employed by the US.
People see 3 mile as a failure, when in fact, it should be viewed as a shining achievement, that we could have a meltdown and the biggest issue was that a few people in the immediate area got the equivalent of a chest x-ray in radiation dose. Is a chest x-ray bad? Sure, if you're a pregnant mother. Otherwise, the entire incident showed we could have a MAJOR accident and not end up killing half the population in a 30 mile radius.
Paranoid freaks quit picketing outside operating nuke plants after 25 years of safe operation.
I'm all for improving safety and I do enjoy a good "conspiracy theory" but there are bigger fish to fry as far as public threats or even energy safety threats than the nuke program.
"A dumb man never learns. A smart man learns from his own failure and success. But a wise man learns from the failure and success of others."
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"The well-known safety flaws of Mark 1 Boiling Water Reactors have gained significant attention in the wake of the four reactor accidents at Fukushima, but a more insidious danger lurks. In this video nuclear engineers Arnie Gundersen and David Lochbaum discuss how the US regulators and regulatory process have left Americans unprotected. They walk, step-by-step, through the events of the Japanese meltdowns and consider how the knowledge gained from Fukushima applies to the nuclear industry worldwide. They discuss "points of vulnerability" in American plants, some of which have been unaddressed by the NRC for three decades. Finally, they concluded that an accident with the consequences of Fukushima could happen in the US..."
Lets get serious - I really hope we make it into something Thorium based. Current nuclear technology is one thing: crap. But then, as some german nuclear scientists said - there is not a single commecial MODERN nuclear reactor (3rd and 4th geneeration).