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Americans Favor Moratorium On New Nuclear Reactors

samzenpus posted more than 3 years ago | from the not-in-my-backyard dept.

Power 964

An anonymous reader writes "While a drop in public support for nuclear power would be expected after an incident like the Fukushima reactor crisis, the nuclear disaster in Japan has triggered a much stronger response among Americans. When Japan — the nation that President Obama held up as an example of safe nuclear power being used on a large-scale basis — is unable to effectively control its considerable downside, Americans are understandably leery about the same technology being used even more extensively in this nation. And safety concerns about the existing nuclear plants also deserve serious attention."

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Time for a serious effort on renewables (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35637200)

moratorium, until we have at least a 20% wind power and 10% solar power in the energy mix.

Re:Time for a serious effort on renewables (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35637256)

moratorium, until we have at least a 20% wind power and 10% solar power in the energy mix.

What? Do you think that a truck rolls up and sets up the ACME Nuclear Power Station and they're rock'in? It takes years for a nuke plant to come on line. In the meantime, the solar and wind and whatever will have to be developed and implemented.

This just disgusts me. The ignorant public (who can blame them since all their info is from TV and shit websites) will keep nuclear on the sidelines for decades.

Re:Time for a serious effort on renewables (1)

durrr (1316311) | more than 3 years ago | (#35637360)

In the meantime the gas and coal will be developed and implemented. Going for excess renewables is both energetic and economic suicide.

Re:Time for a serious effort on renewables (2)

mosb1000 (710161) | more than 3 years ago | (#35637498)

Why do you think nuclear shouldn't be on the sidelines? As it stands today, it requires tons of extremely toxic substances to be housed inside a super-heated pressure vessel. It seems like a recipe for disaster. There are safer designs that basically can't melt down (like molten salt reactors where the core is already liquid and liquid metal cooled fast reactors where fission essentially stops inside the reactor if it gets too hot) but they seem too expensive to be viable.

Re:Time for a serious effort on renewables (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35637274)

I'm not against renewables but I fear the US will just do the same as Germany when it came to replace the electricity that would have been provided by nuclear reactors: talks about renewable energy, buy nuclear electrecity from neighbors and burn more coal.

Re:Time for a serious effort on renewables (1)

DJRumpy (1345787) | more than 3 years ago | (#35637364)

If I understand the process correctly (unlikely), the control rods dampen the reaction and keep things generally under control in the reactor?

Seems like I recall there was a lot of news a few years ago about safer designs where the control rods themselves are elevated by the power that the plant produces, and if that fails, they they fall into the reactor automatically when power fails. Seems like some designs with natural failover systems like those would be a good place to start, so that safety systems themselves don't in turn rely on power to function at a basic level. You would think gravity fed water for cooling in the event of a failure systems would also be a given.

Re:Time for a serious effort on renewables (1, Informative)

Talderas (1212466) | more than 3 years ago | (#35637436)

Yes. That is how current designs function. They use an electromagnetic to hold the control rods up. When the power for the electromagnet is severed the control rods fall into place. Fukushima reactor designed featured control rods that were lifted into the reactor.

That said, control rods weren't the problem at Fukushima.

Re:Time for a serious effort on renewables (5, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35637618)

Those would be the Canadian style reactors, which aren't physically capable of melting down. (Well, technically with a lot of outside assistance and deliberate sabotage, you could force one to melt down, but you'd probably die in the process.)

Unfortunately, our public are just as stupid and uneducated as the American public, and are screaming and pointing at exaggerations of the problems in Japan, and claiming them as proof that all Nuclear everything is bad and going to kill us all, despite any actual facts they might encounter. There are people campaigning to have the Canadian Nuclear plants shut down before "an earthquake causes them to explode just like in Japan", despite:

1) They're on the freakin' Canadian Shield, the largest, most solid tectonic plate on the planet, and we just don't _GET_ earthquakes here past about a 3.0, and those are not centered here, they're from way the hell off at the edges of the plate, usually causing mudslides in Quebec.
2) The reactor design is completely different, and, as you mentioned, the control rods are kept in place by the electric power produced - thus, a failure results in immediate safe shutdown.
3) It wasn't the damn earthquake that broke the reactors. The earthquake didn't damage much at all there, except probably knocking a lot of things off shelves, and giving a few people heart attacks. The damage was when more water than is found in the great lakes got dumped on the reactor buildings and shredded them. Again, our reactors are not anywhere near the ocean, and the great lakes don't have enough water to do that kind of damage, unless you found a way to take the entirety of Lake Erie, and dump it all on the plant at once.

The worst part? People screaming about how dangerous nuclear reactors are, are actually the reason they're still as dangerous as they are. They lobby politicians to make new laws banning research into improving the reactors, and then we're stuck with 1970s technology producing tonnes of toxic waste, because an "environmentalist" screamed "WON'T SOMEONE PLEASE THINK OF THE CHILDREN!" and got improvements banned/restricted. 'cause nothing says "I'm thinking of the children" quite as well as sticking them with a massive pile of radioactive waste that didn't need to be there, if it hadn't been for some moronic busybody declaring that things were bad.

Keep the old (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35637212)

Yes, lets stick with the ancient reactors we have now instead of upgrading to safer modern designs.

politically not a bad move (1)

Chrisq (894406) | more than 3 years ago | (#35637358)

Yes, lets stick with the ancient reactors we have now instead of upgrading to safer modern designs.

Politically not a bad move. If anything goes wrong they can point to the succession of previous governments who continued the use and the politicians who gave the go-ahead in the old people's home.

If they permit a new reactor and something goes wrong it would be their fault.

Re:Keep the old (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35637366)

What nuclear industry wants:
build new plants and keep the old ones running

What ecologists wants:
close old plants and stop building new ones

Compromise:
keep old plants running and stop building new ones. It's cheaper for the nuclear industry
and it ensures no nuclear plants in the long term. That's the worst solution in terms of security.

Sane thing to do if you care about security
Close old plants and replace them with new safer ones.

So uh (5, Insightful)

Anrego (830717) | more than 3 years ago | (#35637214)

Seeing a large nuclear disaster has made people wary of nuclear power.. now that's just shocking!

All seriousness though, between the American media fear mongering and the fact that there is actually something to be afraid of, this isn't too surprising.

I still personally think that nuclear power is the best bet. I imagine (and this is an uneducated opinion) all the junk coal and oil plants pump out under regular circumstances is probably going to kill more people than the japan nuclear crisis over the long run, and alternative energy just isn't close enough for people to wait.

Re:So uh (3, Interesting)

Pascal Sartoretti (454385) | more than 3 years ago | (#35637336)

I still personally think that nuclear power is the best bet

For today probably, in the long term certainly not.

Re:So uh (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35637544)

I still personally think that nuclear power is the best bet

For today probably, in the long term certainly not.

Certainly not? Why, do you know something about the future that you'd like to share with the rest of us?

Based on today's technology/ideas, maybe nuclear isn't long term ... but who knows what we'll discover/invent in the future, maybe something that could make nuclear power as safe as anything the green lobby is now trying to push!

Just remember, a nuclear plant might seem hi-tech to a lot of people, but in the end it is nothing more than a glorified steam turbine and that technology is generations old!

Re:So uh (5, Insightful)

SomeKDEUser (1243392) | more than 3 years ago | (#35637596)

This is true. People don't realise it but when you are thinking about energy policy, you are making a 50-year bet. So now the bet looks something like that:
  - there will be no oil
  - there will be lots of coal
  - there will be uranium
  - there should be wind and sun

but also
  - geothermal might become practical
  - carbon sequestration might become practical
  - solar cells might become more efficient
  - most cars will be electric
  - global warming is a threat
  - oil/gas producers are not always nice nations.

So demand in electricity will go massively up as oil is phased out. But you don't want to release too much CO2. Biofuels are probably not a good idea. So you are left, now with two possible strategies:
  - use coal as a stopgap for renewables/fusion
  - use nuclear as a stopgap for renewable/fusion
  - maybe gas is an option. If you don't mind dealing with bloody tyrants.

If you believe in climate change, you will go down the nuclear route. Unless you are so committed against nuclear power that coal is the only option no matter what (Germany, a very, very green country battles against carbon caps in the EU, because they know nuclear is politically toxic and coal is their only option -- in my opinion this is crazy stupid).

Of course you must develop all alternatives as much as you can. This is the only long-term solution, but in energy, this means 40 years. And elections are every 4...

American Media (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35637338)

The media has two positions: everybody panic and nothing to worry about. Nothing in between.

Deepwater Horizon (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35637462)

So obviously we should have the people demanding a moratorium on oil drilling and a massive transition to alternative energy sources after the Deepwater Horizon disaster... Oh, that didn't happen? Well, I see people are as irrational as ever...

Re:So uh (5, Informative)

AlecC (512609) | more than 3 years ago | (#35637472)

According to New Scientist, coal kills about 13,000 Americans per annum. In a chart in their most recent edition, coal is by far the most lethal power source per billion GWh generated.

Re:So uh (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35637480)

After seeing the ignorance, incompetence and the inability of the politics to to properly supervise the industry before and after the indecent, and after seeing
ignorance, incompetence and the inability of the industry itself before and after the indecent some still haven't learned the lessons.

Maybe read about http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hanford_Site and then tell me again why you trust people ever at all again to do the right thing.

All the billions going into the built and clean up, never mind that in fact you can not clean it up would be better spend in alternatives.

It is not between nuclear power on one site and fossil on th other.

The best bet is actually to start saving and lower consumption over all.

Re:So uh (3, Insightful)

Anrego (830717) | more than 3 years ago | (#35637616)

The best bet is actually to start saving and lower consumption over all.

That may be the best way, but I wouldn't bet on it ever happening. A solution that relies on people to conciously deprive themselves of something for the good of everyone is bound to fail in todays society.

Re:So uh (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35637604)

Not only is it the best bet. It's the only bet.

We (and I'm not an American) have only two choices: Nuclear, or live in huts.

Energy efficiency, while laudable and necessary, is just never going to cut it when it comes to feeding our needs.

So-called "renewables" are mostly a bad joke. Solar has come a long way. It's a lot more efficient and cheaper now... and it has potential to provide a chunk of energy, but it's not going to supply anything like what we need even if you coated every roof top in panels.

Biofuels are a greedy farmer dream... but a completely idiotic path.

Wind/wave is a hopeless hippy pipedream that will never supply more than the tiniest fraction of our energy needs... while being the most expensive of all.

Coal/gas are filthy and will do more damage to the environment than just about anything else.

But dimwit environmentalists still hear the word nuclear and shit their pants... because they watched The China Syndrome 30 years ago and can't get over it. They just won't see that nuclear gives them what they want... a green source of energy.

Re:So uh (4, Insightful)

fuzzyfuzzyfungus (1223518) | more than 3 years ago | (#35637622)

I suspect that most of the public reaction is, indeed, a visceral response to the current incident. Emotional, and not likely to last all that long(particularly given that, with incomes flat or declining among the bottom 4 or 4.5 quintiles, and energy costs rising, people are going to grasp at anything that pretends that they will be able to keep on living their familiar suburban existence.

What I find disconcerting about the whole thing is not so much that a given 60's era reactor design didn't cope all that well when exposed to atypically gigantic earthquake and tsunami conditions; but that plant HQ has, apparently, been slimy and dubiously transparent about their somewhat cavalier risk management practices for decades, they've only just had it bite them public-ally.

The "zOMG, nuclear power always causes 3-eyed rats and flipper babies made of pure cancer!" brigade is out to lunch. However, unfortunately enough, the "nuclear power has the potential to be safe; but its operation always seems to end up in the hands of penny-pinching scumweasels who do their best to fail to live up to that promise." is more history than hypothesis.

Until the engineers manage the historic leap of creating a design that managers can't fuck up, certain concerns will remain entirely valid(to be fair, most of those concerns validated, often with grotesque callousness, on a daily basis in other forms of power generation, just ask a coal miner...); but it is true that nuclear designs tend to underperform their theoretical engineering maximums for reasons that come down to frankly untrustworthy management.

What happened? (5, Interesting)

SniperJoe (1984152) | more than 3 years ago | (#35637228)

I am beginning to think that my fellow Americans are afraid of success. We claim we want energy independence, but do very little to achieve it, despite valid and workable options staring us in the face. New reactors are precisely what we need in this situation (with more modern safety features compared to the reactors in Japan as well as decreasing our reliance on foreign energy).

Re:What happened? (2, Insightful)

node 3 (115640) | more than 3 years ago | (#35637428)

What kind of super-men do you expect to design, build, run, secure, and maintain these plants? All it takes is one accident, and you've got a disaster on your hands.

The fuel itself is dangerous, and remains dangerous for billions of years. Who do you trust to be able to tame something like that? And even if you trust the current engineers and businessmen and politicians to keep it safe, you have to trust those that follow, for the rest of your life (and the lives of those to follow).

Re:What happened? (5, Insightful)

EdZ (755139) | more than 3 years ago | (#35637510)

All it takes is one accident, and you've got a disaster on your hands.

Eh? The reactors at the Fukushima no.1 complex were hit by a magnitude 9.0 earthquake, THEN a 12m high tsunami, and THEN several explosions. So far, the only injuries from radiation have been two workers who received surface skin burns to their legs (on the severity of a bad sunburn) because they ignored their dosimeter warning alarm.
The Fukushima incident has shown that even with multiple massive accidents, even old designs hold up pretty damn well.

Hyman Rickover (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35637636)

We might want to look towards what Hyman Rickover, the architect of America's Nuclear Navy, did.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hyman_G._Rickover

Re:What happened? (2)

hubie (108345) | more than 3 years ago | (#35637434)

I wouldn't call it afraid of success, I think it is just plain old NIMBY.

Re:What happened? (3, Interesting)

ObsessiveMathsFreak (773371) | more than 3 years ago | (#35637578)

What happened? Free enterprise happened. Deregulation happened. Cosy relationships between Industry and regulators happened. Marketism happened.

As more details emerge, one thing is becoming clear: This accident did not happen as a result of any tsunami. The tsunami merely kicked in the door of a rotten structure which swiftly collapsed. Cost cutting, poor safety, inadequate oversight, etc, etc; These are the real causes of the radiation leaks happening at Fukushima at present.Some very dirty laundry is being aired in very public view.

At this happened in Japan for chirstsake. Japan! The country where people have ceremonies and procedures for handing over business cards. A nation world famous for its engineering and industrial management. Japan! If things in their nuclear industry were that bad what horrors await at our own nuclear plants.

It boils down to this: You can have nuclear reactors, run by private entities, but you must be prepared for one of these rickety, slipshod operations to go belly up every decade or so. That's really all there is too it. Show me the reactor too sophisticated to melt down and I'll show you the company that will run it glowing white hot into the ground.

There are several glaring parallels between this incident and the recent banking crisis. Systemic disregard for risk, incompetent and/or uncaring management, and wanton abuse of public trust. The public doesn't trust these people anymore--with good reason. You're not going to win that trust back with fancy blueprints and paid experts' opinions. Honesty and accountability are what is needed. However, both are in short supply these days.

Re:What happened? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35637632)

Its not Americans, its politicians. Read the comments in the IBTimes article - most are for nuclear power and thats not even news for nerds. People really need to stop giving credit to this notion that the media speaks truth or even that there are enough retards listing to give an impression other than the impression that there are a bunch of retards listening simply because politicians are able to leverage such tactics to suggest the people care one way or another about a particular issue that coincides with their personal financing agenda. Everyone needs to simply wake up, say I'm an American, and these people are liars - hell, if someone wants to bring back tar+feathers and pitchforks I'm in.

America's Aging Nuclear Plants (5, Insightful)

Electricity Likes Me (1098643) | more than 3 years ago | (#35637234)

With something like 20% of the US's electricity presently coming from nuclear power and *all* of those reactors approaching or already past their lifespan, all those Americans need to decide what exactly they want to replace them with.

Replace aging nuclear plants with ... (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35637392)

Good feelings and hopes for tomorrow!

Hey, Americans refuse to face the economic facts that threaten to bring down the United States, and earnestly believe that money (value) grows on trees, so why should they concern themselves with silly things like the practical side of supplying energy? Just write a law mandating that all power come from safe, cheap, and renewable sources and call it a day.

That should do it!

Re:America's Aging Nuclear Plants (5, Interesting)

PopeRatzo (965947) | more than 3 years ago | (#35637448)

all those Americans need to decide what exactly they want to replace them with.

Something better?

You know, maybe the problem isn't that there's something unsafe about nuclear power, but rather there's something unsafe about letting private industry run nuclear power. Now that it's coming out how there were "cost-cutting" measures taken with the cooling systems in Japan which directly led to loss of containment and that safety measures in some cases were completely ignored because "it was too expensive", I think this is a very instructive moment for us.

Maybe, when it comes to the really big stuff, like nuclear power and maybe the entire energy system of a nation, it's inherently unsafe to put it in the hands of private industry. Health care comes to mind as well. Maybe the best thing we can do is take the profit-motive out of it.

Number (5, Insightful)

xnpu (963139) | more than 3 years ago | (#35637238)

While certainly worrisome, please keep in mind:

* Nobody has actually died from this incident yet. (Versus regular deaths in coal mines, etc.)
* The incident can be learned from and other reactors can be improved accordingly. (Again versus the situation in many coal mines, etc. which are unlikely to see any further improvement.) In fact, many claim the risks of these particular reactors were known but not acted upon, something which can be handled with stricter rules.

Re:Number (3, Insightful)

EmagGeek (574360) | more than 3 years ago | (#35637352)

Something else to consider is that this is not a nuclear accident. This is not the result of poor design, protocol, or process.

It is the result of a fucking 9.0 Earthquake, which is almost unimaginable in its intensity and destructive power.

Re:Number (1)

Kokuyo (549451) | more than 3 years ago | (#35637452)

Uh, my sources may well be wrong and considering the poor job the media is doing when it comes to reporting facts, I thought the present situation happened precisely because management types pushed for cheaper plants and thus safety procedures were dropped in favour of cheaper building.

Nuclear power could be a viable energy source IF we could get our act together and actually pay the amount of money needed to make it so. Also, anyone who thinks to cut corners in this area, especially to make more profit, should be stood against a wall and shot until dead.

Re:Number (5, Insightful)

Talderas (1212466) | more than 3 years ago | (#35637476)

It's the result of a 15 meter tsunami.

Remember, the plant weathered the quake just fine and its backup systems were running UNTIL the tsunami came along. This is really the bit that makes me facepalm over all the moratoriums on nuclear plants that are going on.

Yes, Germany, tsunami's are a huge problem for you.

Re:Number (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35637552)

Actually, the northern of Germany (and with this 2 reactors) are in a area under danger of a tsunami. Not by quake but by landslide.[

Re:Number (1)

HelioWalton (1821492) | more than 3 years ago | (#35637504)

Don't forget the resulting tsunami!

Re:Number (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35637566)

So you pulling the same zero deaths card like in Three Mile Island?

No matter how safe and improved a reactor is build, it is still operated by and industry which goal is to earn money, and which is overseen by a system that gets their pay checks from this industry.

No matter how safe and improved a reactor is build there will always be a chain of events that will lead to a major disaster like in Japan.

No matter how safe and improved a reactor is build you still have to deal with the waste.

So enlighten me again, what did we learn from exactly?

Re:Number (1)

nedlohs (1335013) | more than 3 years ago | (#35637568)

And don't forget that 10,000 people died due to the earthquake and tsunami and almost double that are missing. The direct an indirect deaths from this won't make a significant difference to that total.

Unless a reactor goes all Chernobyl and shoots out chunks of core in an explosion - that still won't effect the death statistics too much but you have to count a pretty large cost for a Chernobyl style exclusion zone in a much more densely populated area. And that's not going to happen anyway.

Or... (5, Insightful)

Spad (470073) | more than 3 years ago | (#35637244)

Poorly informed people, lead by sensationalist news stories, when asked leading questions, will give obvious answers.

Re:Or... (1)

EmagGeek (574360) | more than 3 years ago | (#35637296)

Do you favor or oppose building new nuclear reactors when the risks of damage, meltdown, and nuclear catastrophe due to earthquakes or other natural disasters might not be known?

Just make them tsunami-safe (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35637248)

As long as we make sure our nuclear power plants in New Jersey can survive a 9.0 magnitude megathrust earthquake and accompanying 20 meter tsunami I don't have any problems with keeping our nuclear power plants operational.

Re:Just make them tsunami-safe (1)

AnonGCB (1398517) | more than 3 years ago | (#35637512)

Even then, it's only New Jersey.

What? No. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35637254)

What a terrible article, there is no way solar and wind energy will replace nuclear power, not even in the next 50 years with the improvements that can be made. Where are these American statistics gathered anyway? I guess international spoof.

Re:What? No. (1)

Chrisq (894406) | more than 3 years ago | (#35637402)

What a terrible article, there is no way solar and wind energy will replace nuclear power, not even in the next 50 years with the improvements that can be made. Where are these American statistics gathered anyway? I guess international spoof.

I wouldn't say "no way" but it would require government compulsory purchase of land and a production effort equivalent to highway building. People forget what can be done in a decade if you have to (I saw a TV program showing how radar went from a back of the envelope calculation to a test in two weeks, an operational station in a month and a network along the UK coast in 6 months because a war was on)

Re:What? No. (2)

Errol backfiring (1280012) | more than 3 years ago | (#35637470)

Off course not. Especially if wind energy is only seen as a green excuse. When wind turbines have to run in sync with the "real" energy on the grid. As long as we do not take "alternative" energy serious, it wont be serious.

Holland has had an entire industrial period based on wind energy. In a time that aerodynamics were far less developed than now. If you see what can be done and has been done in the past, the "wind energy is allowed as long as we can plug in in without any effort" attitude is a real shame.

Good (2, Interesting)

kurt555gs (309278) | more than 3 years ago | (#35637262)

Wind / Solar along with NAS batteries -> http://www.ngk.co.jp/english/products/power/nas/index.html [ngk.co.jp] - really could handle our base load. Certainly the percentage that we in the US use nuclear for.

Not only that, we should be looking at new computerized internet electric meters, and laws that would require utilities to pay fair market value for electricity produced by small private generators. Little 5KW vertical turbines everywhere. Then, just put huge battery installations where the old coal plants are, and we are on the road to green energy.

Not today obviously, but it would grow. And new nuke plants would just not be needed. At least Uranium water/water plants. Thorium / Pebble Bed Reactors might be an option for the future.

Re:Good (5, Insightful)

Chas (5144) | more than 3 years ago | (#35637408)

Sorry, but if you think Wind/Solar can be used for baseline power, you're on drugs.

You have NO idea exactly how huge the battery capacity you're suggesting is. Nor how expensive and high-maintenance such an array is. And if you're adverse to the environmental impact of a few tons of recyclable nuclear waste, how adverse are you to the environmental impact of a few megatons of battery medium?

Please put some thought into what you're trying to suggest.

Re:Good (1)

AlecC (512609) | more than 3 years ago | (#35637570)

Solar of the direct thermal, molten-salt variety, storing heat in an underground salt tank for overnight, does not need batteries. I agree that pure photovoltaic solar will never cut it, but that is not the only form of solar around.

Not all americans (2)

dwightk (415372) | more than 3 years ago | (#35637266)

Not all americans

Re:Not all americans (1)

Chrisq (894406) | more than 3 years ago | (#35637418)

Not all americans

Is that you Dr Strangelove?

Re:Not all americans (1)

node 3 (115640) | more than 3 years ago | (#35637442)

Correct. There are some idiots who think this is merely an engineering problem.

Makes no sense (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35637280)

If one were especially worried about certain classes of mishap, it would make far more sense to favour replacing existing reactors as soon as possible. For example, modern convectively-cooled PWR designs are not subject to the kind of cooling failure that occurred in Japan when external power was lost. Not allowing the construction of new plants is the worst of both worlds; the older designs continue to operate at a lower level of safety than new ones would, yet we're still forced to look to coal and gas as our energy needs grow. And not building new plants does nothing to address the problems associated with storage of spent fuel and other waste, which as seen in Japan and fought over for years in the US and elsewhere is a far greater problem than the operational safety of even the oldest BWRs. Fish or cut bait.

"Catastrophic" means... (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35637282)

Nothing can be made safe to a 9.0 magnitude earthquake. Nothing. You can't build or plan for it.

The fact of the matter is, given the nature of the earthquake, the situation in the Dai-Ichi plant has been extraordinarily well contained. There have been only a very few casualties (due to hydrogen explosions), and the radiation leakage has been so low-level that it's unlikely to cause any measurable harm.

What's more, current designs are even safer than the Dai-Ichi plant (which is over forty years old), and don't require external power or working generators to safely shut down (convection of coolant will do it).

Many people die from complications of coal mining, etc. No form of power generation is completely safe, and if you look at the statistics, even now nuclear is by far the safest.

Re:"Catastrophic" means... (0)

node 3 (115640) | more than 3 years ago | (#35637574)

Nothing can be made safe to a 9.0 magnitude earthquake. Nothing. You can't build or plan for it.

Exactly. You *can't* plan for it. So why would you put such dangerous materials into operation in such a place? The reactors in Fukushima took what was a local and temporary event, and turned it into an event that affected the entire planet, and will have effects spanning billions of years.

The fact of the matter is, given the nature of the earthquake, the situation in the Dai-Ichi plant has been extraordinarily well contained. There have been only a very few casualties (due to hydrogen explosions), and the radiation leakage has been so low-level that it's unlikely to cause any measurable harm.

The increase in background radiation will absolutely cause a raise in cancers, and there's the matter of radioactive material put into the environment that is different than simply a temporary increase in background radiation, and will also certainly cause additional deaths.

What's more, current designs are even safer than the Dai-Ichi plant (which is over forty years old), and don't require external power or working generators to safely shut down (convection of coolant will do it).

Radioactive elements can never be made safe. The safest reactor in the world still must concentrate very dangerous materials.

Many people die from complications of coal mining, etc.

But those risks are limited to the people who voluntarily and knowingly engage in such employment.

No form of power generation is completely safe, and if you look at the statistics, even now nuclear is by far the safest.

That's a load of bullshit. Solar, wind, and hydrothermal are much safer. Coal has been traditionally less safe, but we're lead to believe that the current coal plants remove the pollutants that would otherwise plague a small area around the plant.

But since the deaths from nuclear are primarily cancers, which you can't be sure where they came from, as opposed to immediate deaths from things like construction accidents and mine collapses, it's far too easy to falsely assume that nuclear is the safest power source. It's by far the most dangerous, by it's very nature. It's simple physics that fission power cannot be made safe. The best you can do is mitigate the risks.

Re:"Catastrophic" means... (1)

AlecC (512609) | more than 3 years ago | (#35637584)

The plant survived the 9.0 earthquake perfectly well. The automatic shutdown systems worked properly. It was the Tsunami that caused the problems.

Re:"Catastrophic" means... (1)

Spad (470073) | more than 3 years ago | (#35637592)

As others have pointed out, amazingly the earthquake wasn't the problem, it was the tsunami that really caused the damage to the plant by shutting off the generators running the coolant pumps.

The Bad PR is Unfortunate (5, Interesting)

Xenolith (538304) | more than 3 years ago | (#35637288)

We have the technology for much safer and nearly unlimited nuclear power. Only hurdle is how to deploy. What I am talking about is TWR (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Traveling_wave_reactor) and LFTR (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Molten_salt_reactor). They "burn" waste from current reactors, can be shut-of nearly instantly, no water cooling, and a smaller footprint and cost. Now we have to overcome this bad publicity provided by the old technology.

Are you kidding? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35637290)

OP's commentary is outright dumb. Unable to effectively control its downside? Tell me, where is the meltdown? The huge clouds of radiation? People dying from radiation burns? Entire regions made uninhabitable by fallout? Oh right, NONE of that has happened, and the situation is under control. Seriously, folks, it's time to stop being ridiculous. Or maybe I should move to China, where whatever the government's failings, the polity still has its head located well outside its intestinal tract.

Re:Are you kidding? (1)

hubie (108345) | more than 3 years ago | (#35637486)

Or maybe I should move to China, where whatever the government's failings, the polity still has its head located well outside its intestinal tract.

Probably related to the fact that a large percentage of the people running China have technical backgrounds (engineering, science, etc.)

How about nuclear tests? (4, Insightful)

Amiralul (1164423) | more than 3 years ago | (#35637300)

I find it amusing how US media is worried about Fukushima nuclear contamination of Japan and surrounding arrea, including US territories or... Europe. They seem to forgot hundreds of nuclear tests made by the US both in Pacific and continental US. I wonder which event released more radioactive material in the atmosphere, a few hundreds nuclear test or the damaged reactors from Fukushima? (and I'm not even considering detonations over Hiroshima and Nagasaki).

Not just the USA (0)

Gonoff (88518) | more than 3 years ago | (#35637324)

A lot of the rest of the world has had appalling pres fear mongering about this. It has varied from clueless editorials to selective reporting to straight inaccuracies.

In the UK, a lot of our press is controlled by the same person as yours - Rupert Murdoch. They seem to be the big FUD generator in this. Whether they have done this because it sells or because they have an agenda, I can't say. (I suspect the latter.)

Does this surprise anybody? (2)

Frugal Gourmet (2020012) | more than 3 years ago | (#35637330)

I certainly don't mind nuclear power any more than I did before the accident. I've lived near a nuclear plant since I was a child and obviously toyed with the notion that it might blow up. I learned to live with it and rather enjoy the idea that there's a powerful, clean energy source so near to where I reside! "Does this surprise anybody?" is a rhetorical question; America's "reaction" to crises like these is uniformly pious.

Not all Americans (1)

EmagGeek (574360) | more than 3 years ago | (#35637334)

Just the ones who are easily influenced by questions that are designed to produce the answers desired to support whatever political agenda the media is trying to push.

This is the same kind of senseless knee-jerk reaction that happened after the oil spill... it is like issuing a moratorium on building new cars because someone crashed a 1974 Pinto and it spilled some coolant on the ground.

Thank you sensationalist news! (4, Insightful)

Chas (5144) | more than 3 years ago | (#35637348)

Yup. Due to the news media's disgusting exaggeration of the event, , and the 60+ years of "all radiation = bad = kill you dead", a bunch of people who don't understand a thing about nuclear power generation from the 60's, let alone modern reactor technologies are going to browbeat the power industry into the least effectual, most expensive forms of power generation. And it'll be the power industry's fault when power prices skyrocket. It'll also be the power industry's fault when these sources of power fail at maintaining baseline power levels.

Way to fucking go. Decision by committee of imbeciles.

Nuclear power is not safe. (-1)

node 3 (115640) | more than 3 years ago | (#35637350)

Nuclear power is simply not worth the risk on any large scale. All it takes is one accident, either human error (Chernobyl) or natural disaster (Fukushima), and you end up with a disaster that affects the entire world, and has local effects that will last for billions of years.

Every large reactor is a gamble, and when the potential risk is so high, no amount of mitigation makes it a rational chance to take.

On a small scale (reactors designed to power just a building or a neighborhood), the risks may be more reasonable and manageable, but you significantly increase the odds of something going wrong while also lowering the average expertise of those managing the plants. I'm not sure I'd want even relatively low-level radioactive materials being spread about a city in such vast numbers and being accessible to so many people.

Re:Nuclear power is not safe. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35637450)

Nuclear power is simply not worth the risk on any large scale. All it takes is one accident, either human error (Chernobyl) or natural disaster (Fukushima), and you end up with a disaster that affects the entire world, and has local effects that will last for billions of years.

As opposed to, say, coal, where the day to day operations affect the entire world?

Exactly like every oil pumping operation (1)

igomaniac (409731) | more than 3 years ago | (#35637506)

So, Deepwater Horizon (and hundreds of other smaller disasters, still with larger environmental impact than the Fukushima incident) never happened?

The reality is that nuclear is safer than oil, and yet there is so much fear, It's like airplanes, occasionaly one falls down and people are afraid of flying even though it is 100x safer than driving a car which people do every day without fear.

Re:Nuclear power is not safe. (1)

delineal (1970468) | more than 3 years ago | (#35637516)

There haven't been any accidents in the USA that resulted in leaked radiation. 60 years of experience suggest that your assertion, "no amount of mitigation makes it a rational chance to take", is incorrect. Experience suggests that in fact risk can be managed. "billions of years" is also incorrect: http://news.softpedia.com/news/Chernobyl-Still-Radioactive-After-23-Years-129912.shtml [softpedia.com]

Re:Nuclear power is not safe. (1)

jonescb (1888008) | more than 3 years ago | (#35637518)

So we should block out the sun over large cities? The sun gives off more radiation than a nuclear reactor.

Re:Nuclear power is not safe. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35637526)

...you end up with a disaster that affects the entire world, and has local effects that will last for billions of years.

Sorry, but that is completely wrong. The danger of a radioactive substance can be effectively measured by its "half-life". Isotopes with a very short half-life emit radiation very quickly (forgetting for this quick post whether we are talking about alpha particles, beta particles, neutron radiation, or gamma rays). Isotopes like U-238 / U-235 with a long half-life (700 million years for U-235 and 4.4 billion years for U-238) don't pose a danger unless they are in just titanic quantities. However something like the particular isotopes of Iodine and Cesium that have been seen at Fukishima have half-lives on the order of days. They are very dangerous, but that danger is short lived. A small quantity of them can definitely kill, but they don't typically last long enough to travel far from the region where they were produced. None of this adds up to "effects that will last for billions of years".

Re:Nuclear power is not safe. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35637586)

You're an idiot. Chernobyl, the worst nuclear accident man has known, had immediate, serious issues but nothing to the extent portrayed in the media and the results certainly won't last "billions of years". Background radiation is only above safe levels in the immediate vicinity, and bearing in mind this was an ancient (by nuclear standards) reactor with none of the safety mechanisms in place on modern reactors. In fact, had the Chernobyl reactor been based on modern designs, it never would have happened, and reactors are getting safer and safer. Even Fukushima was an old reactor, things would have been much better if it had been a modern reactor, but even there the problems are nowhere near so serious as media is claiming. We've damaged the earth far more in the last thirty years by pumping the smoke from burning coal, gas and oil into the air than the damage caused by every nuclear "disaster" in that period. How is the risk "high" when there have been a handful of notable accidents in the entire lifetime of the nuclear industry? I'd say on those numbers it's incredibly low risk.

Re:Nuclear power is not safe. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35637606)

Dude, neither is petroleum
        Deepwater Horizon oil spill (https://secure.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/en/wiki/Deepwater_Horizon_oil_spill)
nor coal
        Kingston Fossil Plant coal fly ash slurry spill (https://secure.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/en/wiki/Kingston_Fossil_Plant_coal_fly_ash_slurry_spill).

Seriously, we use electricity at an industrial scale, so we generate it at an industrial scale. When things go wrong, they do so at an industrial scale.

I am not afraid. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35637354)

They seem pretty safe, as long as there's no once-in-a-millennium earthquakes followed by huge tsunami hitting a 40 year old reactor. And, even then, the situation's not percisely the disaster that the media is protraying it as (because drama sells?) I guess this is a good argument for not buildng reactors near the coast if one can help it, but I've not lost faith in the safety of the tech as a whole.

From TFA... (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35637370)

.

...Over half (53 percent) of Americans would now support "a moratorium on new nuclear reactor construction in the United States," if "increased energy efficiency and off the shelf renewable technologies such as wind and solar could meet our energy demands for the near term."

Emphasis mine.

Breaking News. American Taxpayers demand Buddy Holly Bobble Heads!

Our carefully constructed survey has found that over 80% of Americans want the government to give them a 10 foot tall Buddy Holly bobble head doll at the end of the April tax deadline... but only if the doll in question was filled with millions of dollars and constructed of solid gold.

Hurricane Katrina and Andrew... (1)

dicobalt (1536225) | more than 3 years ago | (#35637380)

The two most damaging hurricanes in the history of the US had very little effect on the nuclear plants directly in their path. Not every place in the US can experience a 9.0 quake and then a tsunami right after that.

Nuts (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35637382)

How many of you work with complex systems on a daily basis that FAIL? My guess is just about every IT professional on here. Yet you think the nuclear sector is safe? I guess the grass is always greener. Complex systems ALWAYS fail, you can't beat entropy just like you can't beat the house at Vegas.

babys; anything better than fatal unclear power (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35637396)

deleted from USMessageboard.com (not the most pleasant of stuff that really matters); http://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_embedded&v=lSp-oIOhq00#at=55

moratorium; do nothing while unusable (except for weapons) unstable (shake rattle & boil) radioactive waste festers in decommissioned reactors everywhere. good thing we can digest all this crap? why wait?

the creators' newclear power is available now. safe, non-polluting, end user friendly, affordable (free). so that takes care of that.

cease aggression, disarm

edit/remove georgia stone

leave

Nuclear Reactors Compared To Others (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35637416)

http://www.gizmodo.com.au/2011/03/what-is-the-worst-kind-of-power-plant-disaster/

I know it's gizmodo but it really is worth reading. It has lots of numbers.

Postcard from Future (4, Funny)

Rollgunner (630808) | more than 3 years ago | (#35637426)

I just got a postcard from 2211, They said to go with solar when we can... all the wind farms permanently damaged the jetstream and now the equator is 180 farenheit and the poles are -200.

Until we get the solar thing figured out, they recommend nuclear power; just try not to use 40-year-old reactors that are built on the ocean and within 150 miles of a major faultline.

Oh dear. (-1)

Vacuum Sux (654207) | more than 3 years ago | (#35637446)

I, for one, welcome our new Dark Age overlords.

Re:Oh dear. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35637600)

It's about time you welcomed them. They've been here for a while.

It isn't a big deal, unless..... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35637454)

Nuclear power is safe, but you have to consider where any plants would be built. You build a reactor on the coast, and you run the risk of a big coastal storm causing problems. If you build it in an area that can get earthquakes, you run THAT risk, so, the solution is you build the plants mostly underground in the midwest, away from any large population centers. No earthquakes to speak of, and underground would make storms a non-issue as well. You put in redundant supplies of water from different sources in different directions so there are fewer chances that THAT might be a problem.

What has happened in Japan is due to Japan being prone to earthquakes in the first place, even if the 9.0 was extreme, earthquakes are not uncommon. Old designs are also not going to be as good as newer designs. In short, you don't build nuclear power plants in California or Alaska, because those are the states that get the most earthquakes.

Our biggest problem is that the politicians are too stupid to understand WHY there are problems with Japan, so can't properly calm fears by the clueless masses.

Re:It isn't a big deal, unless..... (1)

AlecC (512609) | more than 3 years ago | (#35637624)

The reason nuclear power plants are very frequently along the costs is that they need huge amounts of cooling water. That means either the sea, or a very large river. There are not many rivers large enough.

That's lumping it together (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35637478)

Leading questions? You bet!

How about something besides reactors containing a super-critical mass designed to produce raw materials for nuclear weapons? Oh wait, no one can build any reactor without Leviathan's permission, and Leviathan wants bombs, not safe power.

That will change (3, Interesting)

Dunbal (464142) | more than 3 years ago | (#35637488)

The minute gasoline hits $10/gallon. Crude is still on an up trend and the scary thing is this time it's not a bubble, it's a clear trend.

Re:That will change (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35637614)

Just some perspective: right now gasoline in Finland is about 1.6 eur/L, which works out to be about $8.5/gallon. Another 15-20% raise would surely cause hand-waving and anger, but I don't think it would actually change anything. And we're not that densely populated, so almost everyone does need a car, except in the biggest (not that big) cities.

You're just used to really cheap gasoline. If the price were to go $10/gallon, what would you do other than continue buying?

moratorium on OLD nuclear reactors (1)

slonik (108174) | more than 3 years ago | (#35637520)

Common sense would suggest a moratorium on the old nuclear reactors of the type used in Fukushima and rapid construction of new safer alternatives which exist. But again, asking for common sense is demanding too much:-)

Nuclear is...you know...nice (1)

rdpratt (1854096) | more than 3 years ago | (#35637522)

It's so hard, understandably, to argue for nuclear energy after something like this. No matter what any scientists say the general public will never be able to grasp how relatively safe nuclear power is. So long as we don't construct every single one of them in a region which has it's own damn nickname for how many earthquakes it gets people shouldn't be concerned about it being destroyed by a natural disaster. There are plenty of nuclear power plants in places like the Gulf Coast which are hit, hard, by hurricanes every year. In the end we have no other way of generating power as refined (no pun intended) and readily available as nuclear power.

It's not just the incident in Japan (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35637530)

Of course people are going to show less support for nuclear power after the fossil fuel subsidized press gets done with all the fear mongering. You get what you deserve for putting up with that crap.

Can we get some Public Education? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35637532)

The Public doesn't understand the difference between base-load power generation (coal, oil, nuclear) and electrical generation used to supplement peak demand hours (solar, wind). Base load power generation is what will be demanded in the future with increased in average electricity demand.

What most don't know either is that coal plants throw up more radioactive material than a nuclear plant does. nuclear plants emit steam... yes... steam. Coal plants emit a plethera of materials, which contains radon (yep, that naturally radioactive substance found in... coal.)

I encourage everyone to take a look on the nuclear websites that know their facts from fiction (nei.org, nrc.gov, and ansnuclearcafe.org). The NRC site is probably the best tool US citizens can use since they are COMPLETELY DISJOINT from the commercial side. Their number one concern is public safety, and I won't be the first to say that they are fantastic at .

when gas goes to $8/ gallon (1)

circletimessquare (444983) | more than 3 years ago | (#35637534)

americans will find themselves enthusiastic about nuclear power

oh right, sorry, i forgot, for all of those in denial: cheap easy petroleum will last forever! there is no increasing worldwide demand! supply is not harder to dig up and process! yeah!

pfffffft

How much uranium is there anyway? (3, Interesting)

gatkinso (15975) | more than 3 years ago | (#35637536)

I read contradictory statements regarding this topic.

If the stuff is going to become scarce in 150-200 years or so (these estimates are at current consumption levels but do they really know for sure I doubt it) then I really don't see the point in developing another dead end infrastructure. Esp one that while can be very safe, rarely is in practice (for the usual nontechnical reasons - save money, cut corners, unwisely build in an earthquake zone, ad nauseum).

I mean sure - that's great for us as individuals (until an earthquake strikes that is), but for once let's not foist a new set of problems on our grandchildren.

"favor" moratorium (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35637546)

This is nothing compared to how much Germans currently "favor" shutting down any nuclear reactors in reach....

Very poor media coverage (1)

Jubedgy (319420) | more than 3 years ago | (#35637562)

Already been stated a few times, but I'd say that this has probable been driven by very poor media coverage. It is so poor that, as someone who has had several years "exposure" (hah) and training to nuclear reactors, I physically cringe and usually change the channel (or skip the post) when the topic comes up. The "experts" they brought on early on (and continue to do so, I assume) were laughable. I specifically remember one being a journalist who had covered the industry for a couple of years. She had absolutely no idea what was going on, but tossed out the same trash that was being said elsewhere (people exposed to radiation, extremely dangerous and life threatening...CHERNOBYL! THREE MILE ISLAND! 2012!!!~!~!@~!$#@!!!). Most of the others, I vaguely remember being mostly made up of theoretical nuclear physicists, lobbyists of one persuasion or another, and people who dealt in the field of nuclear weapons. Jokes, all of them. How hard would it have been to find an SRO at a running plant to ask questions of? You know, someone how actually has a clue?

I just wish that they would at least get the verbage right so they wouldn't sound like a retard on a bad day. It's like they've never heard of the term contamination before and just use the term 'radiation' for everything.

Better workers (2)

antifoidulus (807088) | more than 3 years ago | (#35637598)

Seriously? I mean we have people like Homer Simpson working to keep OUR nuclear panner plants safe, how could anything go wrong?

Accurate headline (1)

zoomshorts (137587) | more than 3 years ago | (#35637608)

"Non-thinking, ill informed Americans", want a moratorium on nuclear plants. These are basically creationists/anti-vaccine/anti-science people.
YES, nuclear has problems, BUT we know where the waste is and how to avoid it. It is contained, more or less. Coal gasses go everywhere.
Tree hugging is nice, when it is well thought out, but most of the responses are knee-jerk anti-something thinking.

HOT jobs; hired goons, math molesters, talknicians (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35637620)

who said there was hard times to come. hired goons are getting 100k+. math molesters are in the billionerror range, as are the reviled talknicians. as for the royals, they don't need money, so long as they have ours?

rated R viewer resolve required; http://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_embedded&v=lSp-oIOhq00#at=55

deleted from usmessageboard.com?

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