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Japan Plans to Restart Most of Their Nuclear Reactors

Unknown Lamer posted about a year ago | from the thank-you-for-saving-the-biosphere dept.

Japan 255

pigrabbitbear writes "Areva, the French nuclear fuel company, helps supply Japan with a lot of its juice. And Areva's chief executive says that Japan is going to restart up to six reactors by the end of the year. Eventually, it's going to power up at least two thirds of them. Japan's prime minister Shinzo Abe has been a little cagey, but he recently told the press that yes, despite the upcoming March 11th anniversary of the Fukushima crisis, the nuke plants are coming back online." Supposedly, they are overhauling their nuclear regulatory agencies to fix the massive failure and regulatory capture that led to Fukushima being run unsafely. They are also not going to restart reactors that are on active fault lines; this includes the largest reactor complex in the world. Vaguely related, the Vogtle plant expansion in the U.S. is running a bit over budget, with folks like the Sierra Club seizing the chance to call for an end to construction (unlikely, since Georgia Power says it'd cost customers more, even pretending natural gas is infinite and will always be cheap, to halt construction in favor of any other kind of power plant), and legislators aiming to 'protect' customers from cost overruns. However, it looks like unless action is taken the nuclear renaissance is already dead due to the inherent short-sightedness of the "free market."

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Nuclear Bias (4, Insightful)

Sigvatr (1207234) | about a year ago | (#43074195)

I feel that there is a lot of stigma against nuclear energy these days (particularly here on Slashdot), and for good reason. However, I don't often see people making a case FOR nuclear power, because there are definitely many good reasons to defend its use. Is this because people are afraid of speaking out, or because nuclear power really is that bad?

Re:Nuclear Bias (2, Insightful)

symbolset (646467) | about a year ago | (#43074251)

Below us here will now follow several hundred comments, most lauding nuclear power and bashing all other forms of energy as more toxic, costly and dangerous. All of them pretending there is no geothermal. It happens every time.

Re:Nuclear Bias (5, Informative)

hairyfish (1653411) | about a year ago | (#43074367)

See you lost any credibility once you said "all of them". I live in NZ where we have some geothermal plants. It works here because our country is effectively one long ridge of volcanos. I'm not so sure that applies to the rest of the world.

Re:Nuclear Bias (5, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43074437)

Yep, this. Somebody asked this same question one time when I was visiting the local US Department of Energy site, and the answer they gave was basically "All of the cost-effective geothermal and hydroelectric locations have already been developed." Just as you would expect.

Re:Nuclear Bias (3, Interesting)

cheesybagel (670288) | about a year ago | (#43074497)

Actually there are other ways like using Hot Dry Rock Geothermal where you drill a borehole deep enough [wikipedia.org] that it gets hot enough to boil water which you inject into the hole. The problem is it induces low intensity earthquakes.

Re:Nuclear Bias (2)

mug funky (910186) | about a year ago | (#43075851)

AFAIK the main problem is finding a place geologically stable enough that your very very long borehole will stay functional.

hmm... we could always use an old frack-hole and the broken-up shale could be a heat-exchanger?

Re:Nuclear Bias (2)

symbolset (646467) | about a year ago | (#43074543)

This one is the US [google.org] . Of course we're talking about Japan [yomiuri.co.jp] which has ample geothermal resources.

Re:Nuclear Bias (1)

mug funky (910186) | about a year ago | (#43075847)

i was always struck by how damn similar Japan and NZ are geographically...

Re:Nuclear Bias (2)

AlphaWolf_HK (692722) | about a year ago | (#43074639)

In my state, there is no geothermal capability, or hydro. However, we have a very large nuclear power plant that produces energy a lot cheaper and more efficient than wind and solar.

Re:Nuclear Bias (1)

Charliemopps (1157495) | about a year ago | (#43075217)

Except that, Geothermal plants release toxic gas into the atmosphere, including large amounts of CO2. Not nearly as much as coal... but then, Nuclear power doesn't release any CO2 at all. Not to mention geothermal has conclusively proven to cause earthquakes and at least 1 plant had to be shut down after it triggered tens of thousands of earthquakes over the first few days of operation.

Re:Nuclear Bias (0)

symbolset (646467) | about a year ago | (#43075901)

Enhanced Geothermal doesn't release anything into the atmosphere. It's a closed loop.

And, as an additional benefit, it doesn't go boom [youtube.com] .

Re:Nuclear Bias (2)

drinkypoo (153816) | about a year ago | (#43075949)

It also doesn't have much output.

I'm in favor of closed loop geothermal, but it doesn't solve many problems at this point.

Re:Nuclear Bias (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43074277)

Or maybe they're just not interested, since they've realized the effort would be futile.

I know there's arguments I don't get into, not because I don't have feelings on the subject, but because I know better than to piss uphill into the wind.

Re:Nuclear Bias (3, Insightful)

thesupraman (179040) | about a year ago | (#43074309)

It's mainly because people were so convinced by the cold war 'nuclear terror' campaigns run by the west (and probably the other side also) that they cannot see past that.

Hence we get large amounts of patently false 'common knowledge' ingrained in peoples minds when they evaluate anything to do with the words nuclear or radiation.

The biggest problem we should be worried about is that old, out of date, and less safe (than modern) plants will be kept active WAY past their best before dates because so much effort has gone in to making it basically impossible to even design, let al9ong build next generation plants that there is little choice.

Costs and timelines in the west (especially America) have ballooned due to the mountain of legal and social blocks put in the way of building plants, meaning time lines and non-technical costs now hugely dwarf the actual real cost of building the plants, and make them unaffordable.

In the meantime we have the same organisations both screaming at us that we need to reduce CO2 emissions (or the world will end!), AND that anything related to the word 'radiation' is satans work and must be stopped at all costs.

It is good that the Japanese are showing some signs of reality-based decision making here, and at least the Chinese are actually starting to progress design improvements. America should be burying its head in shame over how it has controlled/managed the worlds nuclear power development (and thats pretty much how it has been until now, via the NRC ..)

Of course a lot of the problem boils down to the childishness of the modern public, where they assume everything will be handed to them on a plate, in a way that makes them feel most comfortable and happy, without offending any little sensibility they have decided to have, as they are obviously THE most important entity on the planet. Sad, really.

So yet again its time to sit back, get a cup of tea, and watch the backlash against satans radiation again, damn the torpedoes.

Re:Nuclear Bias (5, Insightful)

TubeSteak (669689) | about a year ago | (#43074505)

The biggest problem we should be worried about is that old, out of date, and less safe (than modern) plants will be kept active WAY past their best before dates because so much effort has gone in to making it basically impossible to even design, let al9ong build next generation plants that there is little choice.

TFA

Nor is there a serious case to be made that interest in new reactors has been suppressed by decades of overregulation. The candidates for the Nuclear Regulatory Commission since 1980 have almost all been subject to what amounts to a nuclear industry veto.4 In many cases, they have had outright industry endorsement. The idea that these industry-vetted commissioners have overseen 30 years of excessive regulation doesnâ(TM)t pass the straight-face test.

I'm not disputing that NIMBY and environmental regulations have retarded nuclear growth, but the real reason we're still running decades old power plants waaaaaaaay past their end-of-life date is regulatory capture.

The nuclear industry says "don't worry, we can run a 40 year old plant safely" and the regulators say "okay, we believe you"
This is despite every indication that the plants are corroding in place and the operators are doing as little maintanence as possible.

Re:Nuclear Bias (3, Insightful)

thesupraman (179040) | about a year ago | (#43075249)

You need to think it a little deeper.

The reason they are desperately trying to stretch out the life of the old plants is because the kneejerkers/dumb greens (yes, there are some clued up ones), and NIMBYs have made it next to impossible, and definitely not affordable, to build any new ones, in fact even to improve the existing ones..

New power plants are much cheaper to run, lower risk, lower cost of operating materials, lower waste, etc - but are simply unbuildable under the wests anti-everything regime due to the wonders of local/global pressure groups making regulators tie it up in so much red tape..

The result of this stupidity is what are now low safety (relative to modern designs) stations are kept running way beyond design life - so exactly the opposite of what should be desirable (clean, reliable, affordable nuclear power) is the result of the pressure groups.
And I suspect they want it this way, any 'disaster' is going to swell their supporters, bring money in the door, and increase their political power - why would they want safe nuclear power? (they of course being the many and varied anti-nuclear power groups).

The whole thing is of course complex as hell, but the big picture really is people ignoring technical realities, and instead treating nuclear power like it is a social issue (and of course mixing that with huge dis-information as to the realities of radiation, etc).

Re:Nuclear Bias (1, Funny)

bill_mcgonigle (4333) | about a year ago | (#43076111)

The nuclear industry says "don't worry, we can run a 40 year old plant safely" and the regulators say "okay, we believe you"

And the startup that wants to build integral fast reactors and buy up the existing nuclear waste to use as fuel gets denied permits because the entrenched interests would suffer.

We'll get them eventually - I'm just not sure if we'll be buying them from China or India.

Re:Nuclear Bias (4, Insightful)

cheesybagel (670288) | about a year ago | (#43074521)

The Japanese will restart their nuclear reactors. Their economy is not viable otherwise. Their economic recovery crashed more because of the plant shutdown and the energy costs of importing coal than the earthquake damage itself. Japan needs nuclear power. Too many people and too few alternative resources for a country with heavy industry. The Chinese are in full swing. They have like one of each leading edge nuclear power plant design either in operation or under construction and they are ramping up training so they can build more of them. Air pollution in China is a big problem and nuclear power in coastal cities is seen as a way to ameliorate the problem. The heavy industry in the interior of the nation will likely continue using cheap coal.

Re:Nuclear Bias (1)

ae1294 (1547521) | about a year ago | (#43074681)

I'm surprised China didn't offer to run some power lines over to Japan "free of charge" after all the plants got shut down... Someone in china dropped the ball...

Re:Nuclear Bias (1)

macshit (157376) | about a year ago | (#43074975)

Do you think Japan would ever risk becoming reliant on China for any significant amount of their energy supply, at least while China has its current political system?

It'd be neat as an optional "top up" source of power, but it seems a non-starter for anything more, at least in the short/medium term. For now, Japan's gotta figure something out on their own.

Re:Nuclear Bias (1)

AK Marc (707885) | about a year ago | (#43076071)

Current Chinese political system? What, were they friends under the previous system?

Re:Nuclear Bias (1)

Mashiki (184564) | about a year ago | (#43076087)

I'm surprised China didn't offer to run some power lines over to Japan "free of charge" after all the plants got shut down... Someone in china dropped the ball...

Won't happen, and Japan would refuse outright. This is the same China that's belligerently been funneling a proxy war and trying to take over and entire chain of islands that are controlled by the philippines, and and another set that are controlled by japan. Not forgetting that their(china) favorite tactic in all of this is to "ship" in people and claim their neutral supporters trying to claim these islands for the motherland.

Oh and if you're wondering why? It's because around, in, near, and under those islands there's rich deposits of rare earths, uranium, oil and natural gas.

Re:Nuclear Bias (1)

antifoidulus (807088) | about a year ago | (#43074907)

The markedly weaker yen(which has dropped about 20% against the dollar so far this year) is probably also playing into the decision. Most commodities are still priced in dollars meaning that the cost to the consumer, in yen, is increasing quite rapidly thus increasing the political pressure to bring energy costs down. The simplest way to do that is to restart the nuke plants....

Re:Nuclear Bias (1)

mug funky (910186) | about a year ago | (#43075881)

they also don't much care for Japan, which happens to be down-wind from a lot of China's coast...

Re:Nuclear Bias (1)

ColdWetDog (752185) | about a year ago | (#43074653)

Yes, you might be partially correct - however - the world is as it is. You can't fast track reactors in the US. The industry hasn't figured out how to make them cheaper, even with the Federal government covering virtually all of the insurance costs.

So, in a perfect world, run by engineers with a good budget, instead of politicians with not enough money to go around, you could have safe(r) nuclear power. We shall never live in that cornicopian intellectual paradise so we have a mess. In this mess that is the real world, nuclear power doesn't look all that attractive compared to solar.

Personally, I'd go Heinlein on this subject - give all of the nucs to the Navy or some spinoff. Keep Congress out of it somehow (give them a couple of Etch-A-Sketches and some hookers), give them a reasonable budget. But now I'm getting all utopian again. Slap me.

Re:Nuclear Bias (4, Interesting)

nbauman (624611) | about a year ago | (#43074789)

I did find the uninformed anti-nuclear rhetoric annoying (like any uninformed rhetoric), but the pro-nuclear side suffered from technological hubris.

A nuclear reactor offers the promise of unlimited, cheap, carbon-free energy. OTOH, there is a small risk of a very big catastrophe, Are great benefits worth great risks? Hard to say. We now have Chernobyl as one real-world worst-case scenario.

Three Mile Island wasn't reassuring either. The reason why it blew, you may recall, is that a relief valve, made by Dresser, failed. It had a classic design flaw, a piston diameter that was too large for its length, like a wide window that gets wedged into the frame when you try to open it. This valve had been tested before -- and failed, about 2% of the time. Scientific American, itself a nuclear power advocate, had a good article about this.

Dresser for its own part was defending itself by taking out full-page newspaper ads, and denouncing anti-nuclear activists as Communists. Edward Teller said that Ralph Nader opposed nuclear power because he was an Arab, and he wanted the U.S. to be dependent on Arab oil.

I would like to live in a country where we make technical decisions on the basis of the facts and the analysis of experts. Unfortunately I live in a country where we make technical decisions (and any decisions) on the basis of who can muster the strongest political power and lobbying (which usually translates into, who has the most money to spend on it). I really wish the nuclear industry had been run by people who stuck to the facts and tried to resolve their disagreements with their critics with reason, rather than steamroller them with negative PR campaigns and campaign contributions.

I believe nuclear power could have worked, and might someday. One of the problems is that we seized on essentially one design, a scaled-up version of the one used on nuclear submarines. There were other designs that were inherently safer. It seems that American capitalism needs the government to do its R&D for it.

I always favored a free-market solution: The Price-Anderson Act absolved the nuclear industry of liability for any accident, and instead had the government step in, to compensate everyone for the damage (up to $120 million, which wouldn't go too far in Chernobyl). My solution: Repeal the Price-Anderson Act, and let the nuclear power industry get its liability insurance on the free market like everyone else. If they're so safe, let them convince the insurance industry. It seems that American capitalism always needs a government handout.

Re:Nuclear Bias (4, Informative)

thesupraman (179040) | about a year ago | (#43075299)

"A nuclear reactor offers the promise of unlimited, cheap, carbon-free energy. OTOH, there is a small risk of a very big catastrophe, Are great benefits worth great risks? Hard to say. We now have Chernobyl as one real-world worst-case scenario."

Chernobyl was not an accident, you understand? the reactor was a terrible design intentionally being pushed way outside design specs for no better reason that to see what happened... it is not a real-world worst-case scenario for western reactors, let alone any modern designs.

"Three Mile Island wasn't reassuring either. The reason why it blew, you may recall, is that a relief valve, made by Dresser, failed. It had a classic design flaw, a piston diameter that was too large for its length, like a wide window that gets wedged into the frame when you try to open it. This valve had been tested before -- and failed, about 2% of the time. Scientific American, itself a nuclear power advocate, had a good article about this"

TMI did not 'blow', it had an internal failure resulting in a shutdown, and a very small (barely detectible) amount of released radiation. You do realise that a coal power station would release more radioactive material in a few minutes of operation than TMI did, right? Not to mention the fact that again, it was an ancient design that needed specific human operator control, and thats why it had an internal meltdown, the operators stuffed up (badly) after the valve failed.

"I always favored a free-market solution: The Price-Anderson Act absolved the nuclear industry of liability for any accident, and instead had the government step in, to compensate everyone for the damage (up to $120 million, which wouldn't go too far in Chernobyl). My solution: Repeal the Price-Anderson Act, and let the nuclear power industry get its liability insurance on the free market like everyone else. If they're so safe, let them convince the insurance industry. It seems that American capitalism always needs a government handout."

I suspect you dont know what the NRC is, and dont understand how the global nuclear industry is stricly controlled by it, and therefore by proxy the USA and its government, do you? there is NO free market in the nuclear industry, it is specifically and strictly controlled by one governing body. this is part of what has held it back of course. the fact that reactors in America appear to be privately owned it really just more smoke and mirrors.

Re:Nuclear Bias (0)

mug funky (910186) | about a year ago | (#43076099)

yes - a pure unregulated free-market approach to the nuclear industry would yield more weapons-grade materials than the cold war.

because why the fuck not, if it can make a profit on the side, and besides, the material can be burnt in the reactor too!

Re:Nuclear Bias (1)

BradleyUffner (103496) | about a year ago | (#43075309)

Three Mile Island wasn't reassuring either. The reason why it blew, you may recall, is that a relief valve, made by Dresser, failed. It had a classic design flaw, a piston diameter that was too large for its length, like a wide window that gets wedged into the frame when you try to open it. This valve had been tested before -- and failed, about 2% of the time. Scientific American, itself a nuclear power advocate, had a good article about this.

Three Mile Island didn't "blow". I (and thousands of others) wouldn't be living within 20 miles of the place right now if it had.

Re:Nuclear Bias (1)

nbauman (624611) | about a year ago | (#43075811)

The pressure release valve jammed in the open position, and released a lot of coolant. That's what I meant by "blow." It's like a whale. The loss of coolant led to a partial meltdown.

I used to think that Michio Kaku was an irresponsible sensationalist. I went to a meeting a few days after the accident where he showed a slide of a melted reactor core, and said, "That's what Three Mile Island looks like inside." I thought he was going beyond the evidence. Then it turned out that the core was melted. Kaku was right. I was wrong. I turned my skepticism up a notch.

Re:Nuclear Bias (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43075941)

So yet again its time to sit back, get a cup of tea, and watch the backlash against satans radiation again, damn the torpedoes.

And I'll grab a cold one and watch the nuclear apologists work their mojo.

Re:Nuclear Bias (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43074345)

It's simple. Nuclear power is not politically correct no matter how safe it is for the environment compared to other power generation methods. Since it doesn't rely on sunshine or unicorn farts, it automatically isn't "green" and therefore, bad. But even more so because it relies on radioactive fuel. Anything radioactive is super bad, M'kay?

Re:Nuclear Bias (1)

fredprado (2569351) | about a year ago | (#43074371)

There is a bias against nuclear power everywhere, because it is scary in the sense that a disaster, at least locally is always extremely grave. On the other hand, there is simply no choice. Nuclear power will be increasingly used because there is simply no alternative. So even for those who dislike the idea it is better to accept it and work to make it safer than to resist the inevitable.

Re:Nuclear Bias (2)

ozmanjusri (601766) | about a year ago | (#43074997)

On the other hand, there is simply no choice. Nuclear power will be increasingly used because there is simply no alternative.

Not if you're a company that wants to charge a lot of money for power...

Poland, the Czech Republic and Switzerland all point the finger at Germany for what they claim are uncontrolled surges in renewables, which are destabilizing their grids. In addition they contend that Germany’s behaviour is also reducing the profitability of conventional power firms.

The Institute recently published “Impacts of Germany’s nuclear phase-out on electricity imports and exports” (PDF), a 99-page study that discusses not only German power flows with its eastern neighbors, but also with its neighbors to the west.

This study comes at a time when Poland and the Czech Republic are both openly complaining about Germany using their grids to transport renewable power from northern Germany to southern Germany – because the German grid is allegedly overloaded.

Meanwhile, Switzerland recently argued that it’s conventional power firms were not able to generate as much power as they should because the Swiss grid is also sometimes filled up with German renewable power.

The study also examines why the Netherland has been less vocal, despite the Dutch grid being flooded with inexpensive renewable power, which has offset electricity production from natural gas turbines in the country.

http://www.powerengineeringint.com/articles/2013/02/Study-assesses-Germanys-energy-policy-impact-on-angry-neighbours.html [powerengineeringint.com]

Re:Nuclear Bias (1)

Hal_Porter (817932) | about a year ago | (#43074607)

That which doesn't kill you makes you evolve a bit faster.

Re:Nuclear Bias (1)

ae1294 (1547521) | about a year ago | (#43074713)

Yup... I can't wait for the super powers or to become a tentacle rape demon... Ether or would work for me and I think I might even gain enough ego credits to move out from my moms basement!!! I wonder what the current conversion rape i mean rate is between ego credits and bitcoins?

Re:Nuclear Bias (1)

Hal_Porter (817932) | about a year ago | (#43075379)

I was going to argue but actually this is exactly the right way to respond to people misquoting Nietzsche.

Have you read any Ayn Rand by the way?

Sorry, just kidding.

Re: Nuclear Stupidity .. (1)

dgharmon (2564621) | about a year ago | (#43074647)

"I feel that there is a lot of stigma against nuclear energy these days"

No, we're against the stupidity of building a nuclear reactor over where two tectonic plates [olehnielsen.dk] rub up against one another.

Re:Nuclear Bias (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43075557)

I feel that there is a lot of stigma against nuclear energy these days (particularly here on Slashdot), and for good reason. However, I don't often see people making a case FOR nuclear power, because there are definitely many good reasons to defend its use. Is this because people are afraid of speaking out, or because nuclear power really is that bad?

People would rather complain and make cases against things rather than for them. Why? People love to bitch, its plain and simple. They would rather complain than be constructive. Walmart, sony, government, nuclear energy, apple products, anything to do with patents and so on people here only want to say bad things.

The only time people want to argue for something is when they feel it will make them look good infront of others or its the popular thing to be for. Like linux gaming, anything that is against the government, and so on.

no more homer simpsons and cut cutting MR burns (4, Funny)

Joe_Dragon (2206452) | about a year ago | (#43074205)

no more homer simpsons and cut cutting MR burns

Re:no more homer simpsons and cut cutting MR burns (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43074663)

wat

Nuclear plants are strong (0)

Hentes (2461350) | about a year ago | (#43074241)

One advantage of nuclear power is that even after a catastrophe like this they can be restarted. Other power plants would've collapsed/been washed away, leaving Japan without power.

Re:Nuclear plants are strong (1)

aliquis (678370) | about a year ago | (#43074317)

Citation needed.

Re:Nuclear plants are strong (2)

quenda (644621) | about a year ago | (#43074365)

There is no chance of restarting the three damaged reactors. Are you comparing to hydro dam failure? That is indeed worse.
But what about coal power in Japan? They must have numerous coal and gas-power stations along the coast, but I can find no information about any of them being seriously damaged by the tsunami.

Re:Nuclear plants are strong (1)

cheesybagel (670288) | about a year ago | (#43074567)

They are using those old mothballed coal power plants right now where the nuclear reactors are offline but the cost of the imported coal is so high it is worsening the trade deficit and making Japan poorer as a result.

Re:Nuclear plants are strong (1)

cheesybagel (670288) | about a year ago | (#43074573)

PS: Gas power plants make less financial sense because of the low density of LNG means the transportation costs are quite high. Natural gas is cheapest where you have a LNG pipeline doing the transport.

Re:Nuclear plants are strong (1)

quenda (644621) | about a year ago | (#43075713)

Natural gas is cheapest where you have a LNG pipeline doing the transport.

Liquid pipeline? Don't you mean CNG?

Re:Nuclear plants are strong (1)

mad flyer (589291) | about a year ago | (#43074973)

Coal prices are negociated on quite a long span... No price changed yet on the current supply contract (australia and vietnan)

Re:Nuclear plants are strong (1)

cheesybagel (670288) | about a year ago | (#43075777)

If the prices are negotiated in dollars and the dollar goes up against the yen consumer purchasing power will decrease.

TORA !! TORA !! TORA !! (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43074273)

Yee shall reap what thee sow !!

Let it snow !! Let it snow !! Let it snow !!

Nuclear accidents shouldn't be possible (0, Troll)

kawabago (551139) | about a year ago | (#43074285)

Nuclear accidents are not supposed to be possible but they keep happening because people are fallible. Since it is impossible to guarantee someone won't screw up, it is impossible to build a safe nuclear reactor. There is no safety system so good that a determined idiot can't break it. If the possibility of accident cannot be made zero, nuclear technology is not safe.

Re:Nuclear accidents shouldn't be possible (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43074401)

By that logic, all types of power generation is unsafe, which I suppose is true. How many people does coal kill directly in mining accidents (even ignoring health problems caused by the pollution it pumps out)? The "determined idiot" is always lurking to start an industrial accident, run you over with a bus, or drop a hammer off a roof. So the blanket statement "is not safe" is meaningless, because nothing in life is safe.

Re:Nuclear accidents shouldn't be possible (1, Insightful)

jcdr (178250) | about a year ago | (#43074845)

Yes, there isn't any safe type of power generation, but the high concentration of long half live highly radioactive isotopes make the nuclear generation in a category of his own regarding long term risk.

Re:Nuclear accidents shouldn't be possible (1)

walshy007 (906710) | about a year ago | (#43075523)

long half live highly radioactive

The more radioactive something is, the shorter it's half-life. Just so you know. The worst of the worst have half-lives of seconds, The still nasty stuff has one of days/weeks, etc.

Re:Nuclear accidents shouldn't be possible (-1, Troll)

Meeni (1815694) | about a year ago | (#43076045)

You should enjoy your snork of plutonium, it has million years half life should be just safe right ?

Re:Nuclear accidents shouldn't be possible (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43074413)

If the possibility of accident cannot be made zero, FOO is not safe.

Subsitute FOO = solar power, Perl, Weird Al concerts, broccoli...

Do you not cross the street (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43074433)

just because the possibility of an accident is not zero?

Do you not fly just because the possibility of an accident is not zero?

Since when nuclear accidents are not supposed to be possible? Regardless the propaganda, regardless the sales pitches, regardless the green, blue or red politicians, regardless the marketers, since when are complex system built and operated by humans supposed to be accident free?

Bad Summary (5, Insightful)

ohnocitizen (1951674) | about a year ago | (#43074299)

This is becoming a Slashdot hallmark. The summary contradicts the article.

the nuclear renaissance is already dead due to the inherent short-sightedness of the "free market."

From the article linked in that very sentence:

Wall Street was already leery of the historically high costs of nuclear power. An abundance of natural gas, lower energy demand induced by the 2008 recession, increased energy-efficiency measures, nuclear’s rising cost estimates, and the accident at the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Station further diminished prospects for private investment in new US nuclear plants.

Avoiding nuclear power because of (higher investment cost + greater risk of liability + less demand) does not sound like shortsightedness. It sounds like a wise move.

Re:Bad Summary (2)

CncRobot (2849261) | about a year ago | (#43074351)

You should know by now, every move by the "free market" is evil and destructive to the middle class. Don't go confusing the issue with facts, those aren't welcome in a discussion that may turn political.

Re:Bad Summary (1)

ArsonSmith (13997) | about a year ago | (#43074523)

Actually the free market is destructive to the poor. If we had more free market there would be far fewer poor people around to vote.

Re:Bad Summary (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43075623)

You are right. Doing away with the free market entirely tends to end up with a bunch of elites running the place and everyone else being poor. When almost everyone is poor, it tends to be that poor people don't get treated as poorly (else you risk revolution).

Down with the free market and up with the poor!

Re:Bad Summary (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43074395)

It's only a wise move if it takes into account the true costs of nuclear power versus carbon-based power (including global warming and resource wars). Thanks to robust (overzealous?) regulations, nuclear power has to account for its externalities, but coal and oil power mostly don't.

So I don't think Wall Street, or anyone else involved, is likely to be making this decision based on the true costs. A cost-benefit analysis that ignores certain very significant costs is as bad as no cost-benefit analysis at all.

Re:Bad Summary (4, Informative)

Shikaku (1129753) | about a year ago | (#43074495)

Coal and oil have their own hidden costs that are not apparent on any balance sheet and not easily calculatable.

Pollution has many known health effects. While a nuclear plant does pollute as long as the radiation is contained its effect is much smaller. With air pollution you have increased healthcare costs due to the treatment of any lung issue that arrises just to start, as well as increased Earth temeperature due to greenhouse gasses which makes us use more electricity which makes more pollution... etc.

Re:Bad Summary (2)

mad flyer (589291) | about a year ago | (#43074993)

Check on all governemental subsidies before claiming nuclear power is disadvantaged...

And don't even get me started on the "Price-Anderson" tricks...

Once again, it's not the chance of an accident happening the big factor. It's the extend of the damage when such accident happens.

(Check out "we almost lost Detroit" for a better historical perspective of these shenanigans)

Re:Bad Summary (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43074609)

In the short term, yes, it's a logical outcome. In the long term, given that fossil fuels are non-renewable, supply is expected to go into decline within a few decades, using them supplies more CO2 to the atmosphere, and it takes a while to approve and construct a nuclear power plant or other energy alternatives, it is indeed short-sighted. It's a good plan if you want to turn a quick buck on Wall Street, not such a good plan if you want to be in a good position to handle declining fossil fuel supply and maintain energy supply in a couple of decades.

tangents (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43074321)

Vaguely related...

rant against oil company and free market

So, other than these being news from different countries about nuclear power generation, how the hell are all of these things related?

Foolspeak (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43074361)

The free market is not inherently short-sighted. Every day people plant trees, for profit, without government force, such that they can be harvested 100 years from now. The asset will increase in value constantly, it is not necessary for any one investor to wait 100 years to get their payout.

Amazon's profits have NEVER been paid to investors (since going public, and probably before I just don't know that for sure). Not one penny. They have never paid a dividend. Nor has Google, nor many, many, many quickly growing companies. People invest in these companies, because they expect the company to grow, and will in turn sell there shares to people who will likely never see dividends themselves, and so on, until eventually, many years from now, a group of investors will (after buying out the previous generations), will begin receiving a trickle of actual profit.

The free market, when and to the extent it is allowed to exist is EXTREMELY far-sighted.

Even the bias towards 'quarterly profits' is truly indicative of where government regulation prevents the ideal outcome-- quarterly reporting would not be such a major factor in the decision process were regulations not so rigidly defined around such a reporting scheme.

Re:Foolspeak (1)

cheesybagel (670288) | about a year ago | (#43074613)

The problem with nuclear power plants is many fold. The cheapest models generate 250 MW and that is too much for many applications. Smaller reactors, like those used in naval vessels, usually use highly enriched uranium not available for civilian purposes. The cost in steel and concrete plus construction time (not less than 3 years more likely 5) mean you will have to wait a long time until your investment starts to pay off. You will have to fight a ton of regulations, legislation, protests, attempts to stall the project via injunctions, etc.

LNG power plants can be build in smaller units and put in place in 6 months or a year. In the long run they are more expensive to use because of the higher fuel costs. However the sheer multiplicative effect of having a shorter cycle time in adding generating capacity is very important. Plus LNG power plants can spool up and down to meet demand better than a nuclear power plant. Both have their uses. But it heavily depends on local conditions. If there is a LNG pipeline nearby it probably is the most sensible solution, unless there are nearby coal sources, or rivers to dam, if none of those apply nuclear is your best bet. Especially if you want low air pollution. Thus France, Japan, South Korea rely on nuclear a lot. While countries like US and China with large coal reserves still extant burn coal.

Re:Foolspeak (4, Insightful)

TopSpin (753) | about a year ago | (#43074745)

The free market, when and to the extent it is allowed to exist is EXTREMELY far-sighted.

The summary is a troll. Attributing the 'free market' to nuclear power indicates either ignorance or deceit and we're left to ponder which is worse.

Nuclear reactors represent astonishing amounts of wealth and coordination. It is a hallmark of advanced nations that such things are created. For a reactor to exist in the US it must have the blessing of all levels of government. Financing is often backed by one or more government entities. Federal and state governments must actively regulate it. First responders at each level are prepared for emergencies. Rate payers are involved in voting on proposals prior to construction and regulating on-going rates. The timeline (in contemporary Western nations and certain Asian nations) is at least a decade for construction and licensing is a matter of fractions of a century. People are sourced from rarified cohorts such as military navel reactor operators.

In the end the actual operator is a small and even negligible part of the equation. Invoking the 'free market' mantra when dealing with the troubles of nuclear power is a cop out.

Re:Foolspeak (1)

rastoboy29 (807168) | about a year ago | (#43075195)

I'd like think that what you're saying is true, that the insane focus on quarterly earnings is due to government regulations, because that would make it (relatively) easy to fix.

I can even see how it might be true.

But I'd love to see some evidence that this is the case. Please!

Letting go of imaginary numbers (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43074379)

I used to get very wrapped up in all the different calculations for all the different costs of various energy sources. Then I began to realize that most the 'costs' were violently manufactured and society never really has ever had much say in what it wants to use. I've since exited this merry-go-round of endless and unsolvable arguments about which is better in absence of letting people in society actually choose for themselves precisely because that is the only means by which to determine such things. In that absence, all we are debating about is make believe arbitrary numbers and figures that have no bearing on actual subjective preferences.

To see just a bit of what I mean about the inability to compare different services, take a look at this discussion on what happened to the nuclear power industry in england during the 90s when english people were permitted some freedom to actually choose what they wanted. Nuclear solutions stopped being even remotely feasible when real costs were permitted to be accrued to the actors responsible: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QNnRXwPSGJk

Hopefully this will help you to get off this silly ride too.

Re:Letting go of imaginary numbers (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43074419)

You claim the costs are manufactured, yet blame "real costs" for England's assault on the carbon cycle.

Cheap Electrical power wins! (2)

bobbied (2522392) | about a year ago | (#43074411)

Although natural gas is now very cheap, you would still have to import scads of it to generate electrical power enough to supply what Japan lost when it shut down the atomic energy industry. In addition, you would need to build the generation capacity to replace the nuclear power plants. Therefore, I believe that the restarting of many nuclear power plants is necessary.

Nuclear is not any more dangerous than much of the alternatives out there so this is NOT a bad thing. It's the market providing electrical power in the most cost efficient and timely manor possible, in a country that needs cheap and abundant power to recover. Hopefully they have fixed any systemic issues in their government oversight program and can avoid future issues, but these kinds of issues are not about nuclear power, but effective government.

Good for Japan! Now lets start building some safer plants and really do this right..

Re:Cheap Electrical power wins! (-1, Troll)

jcdr (178250) | about a year ago | (#43074727)

Nuclear is not any more dangerous than much of the alternatives ...

Tchernobyl and Fukushima is not enough to understand that when nuclear plant go wrong, it's really, really bad for a really, really long time ? Seriously, can you point out other non nuclear energy plant accident that is comparable in term of cost and time to cleanup ? Barrages are probably the most potentially destructive, but even the Banqiao Dam catastrophe have be resolved in less than a generation, unlike the long term isotopes radioactivity of nuclear accident. And the problem do not only cam from damaged nuclear plants, but from every nuclear plan wast.

There not a single example of production size nuclear reactor in the history that have been decommissioned and that you can say that all his wast is now fully harmless to your health. And you will die long long long before someone can claim this. This aspect of the nuclear energy make it very special in term of risk compared to the alternatives.

Re:Cheap Electrical power wins! (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43074851)

All fossil fuel plants.

Altering the composition of the atmosphere such that is tending toward hostility toward human-like life... might be the greatest ecological disaster of all.

Re:Cheap Electrical power wins! (1)

Malenx (1453851) | about a year ago | (#43074947)

Tchernobul and Fukushima have not been decommissioned?

Re:Cheap Electrical power wins! (1)

jcdr (178250) | about a year ago | (#43075011)

There are actually more like hazardous stacks of radioactive wreaks that need constant attention.
A truly decommissioned plant is safe and can be converted into an other uses.

Re:Cheap Electrical power wins! (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43075667)

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/New_London_School_explosion
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cleveland_East_Ohio_Gas_Explosion

Not recent enough?

http://venezuelanalysis.com/news/7206

All of those have a higher official death count than Chernobyl (31):

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Deaths_due_to_the_Chernobyl_disaster

And they are infinitely higher than the death count from Fukushima (0):

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fukushima_Daiichi_nuclear_disaster_casualties

>Seriously, can you point out other non nuclear energy plant accident that is comparable in term of cost and time to cleanup ?

Well, if you measure the important stuff by dollars or time lost, I guess you win. Personally, I go by how many people die, since I don't care how much of a pain in the ass it is for the plant owners to clean up their mess.

You can clean things up and you can replace broken things.

But you can't replace lives. Stop using fossil fuel and move onto something that kills fewer people.

Re:Cheap Electrical power wins! (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43075921)

A recent non-nuclear power plant accident? How about Dec 2008 when a dike ruptured at the Kingston Fossil Plant and spilled 1.1 billion gallons of coal fly ash slurry into the Emory and Clinch rivers? Maybe not as much contaminated land as around Fukushima, but the radiation levels will go down and people will be able to return to their homes. (I think you've overestimated the amount of long-lived radioactive substances that were released: my understanding is that most of the people who were evacuated could return now if they wanted to.) The sludge from the Kingston spill contains all kinds of toxic heavy metals. That stuff doesn't go away on its own and TVA (the operators of the plant) determined it was cheaper to buy the land from the owners than to clean it up. And I don't know what they did about the sludge that just flowed downstream...

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kingston_Fossil_Plant_coal_slurry_spill [wikipedia.org]

the 'free market' has spoken. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43074435)

However, it looks like unless action is taken the nuclear renaissance is already dead due to the inherent short-sightedness of the "free market."

Considering th 'promise' to the 'free market' was too cheap to meter along with no need for the Government backstop of Price-Anderson once established it's no wonder the 'free market' has decided an industy that allows sleeping security guards is not with its support.

How else (1)

ozduo (2043408) | about a year ago | (#43074501)

do you build nukes?

"inherent short-sightedness of the free market." (4, Interesting)

John Hasler (414242) | about a year ago | (#43074513)

Horseshit. There has never been anything remotely resembling a free market associated with nuclear power. As for shortsightedness it is hard to imagine anything more shortsighted then the way governments have reacted to nuclear accidents.

Re:"inherent short-sightedness of the free market. (2)

AlphaWolf_HK (692722) | about a year ago | (#43074619)

Exactly. There are leagues of politicians and activists who are going out of their way to prevent nuclear power from being affordable so that it doesn't happen, which is exactly what they want. This is much more of the government being short sighted.

I think the editor just has an axe to grind with capitalism. Granted its not perfect, but neither is democracy. However both have historically worked better than the alternatives.

In any case, that's no reason to throw out you're supposed objectivity. This is exactly the kind of shit that kdawson used to pull, and everybody hated him for it until he finally left Slashdot.

Re:"inherent short-sightedness of the free market. (1)

mdielmann (514750) | about a year ago | (#43075665)

I think the editor just has an axe to grind with capitalism. Granted its not perfect, but neither is democracy. However both have historically worked better than the alternatives.

Unfortunately, capitalism is such a general term that it means almost nothing. It's kind of like saying "mammals do pretty well in most environments". It doesn't say much about humans, or if I want to visit some of those locales. Free market capitalism seems to have as many problems as heavily regulated capitalism, just different problems. Like most things, it probably works best with a certain balance, which has rarely if ever been achieved.

Re:"inherent short-sightedness of the free market. (1)

AlphaWolf_HK (692722) | about a year ago | (#43075983)

Replace the you're with your of course (damn tablet autocorrect).

Re:"inherent short-sightedness of the free market. (1)

drinkypoo (153816) | about a year ago | (#43075931)

As for shortsightedness it is hard to imagine anything more shortsighted then the way governments have reacted to nuclear accidents.

How about the way governments have handled regulation of nuclear power and waste?

Nuclear Wasted-land (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43074569)

I agree with Japan needing nuclear reactors because at this rate, they're burning a ton of hydrocarbons. They're trying to increase burning LNG which is a bit cleaner and won't kill as many people, but overall, oil, LNG, coal and imports of other dirty sources have more than doubled since the tsunami. Not only do they pollute and kill people, Japan can't afford it as their current account has become negative since the latter half of 2012. That doesn't help a country with no natural resources to speak of.

Here's what I don't get. Abe has decided to increase spending, $100 billion USD worth of money, in 15 months. ( http://www.reuters.com/article/2013/02/21/us-japan-construction-idUSBRE91K1BM20130221 ) And the best they've discussed is about building new tunnels and other road infrastructure that they already have and no longer need? (Because they've tanked tourism from China and S. Korean.)

Why not spend $100 billion on new safer nuclear reactors? You could build about 30 of them, which helps replace 1/5 of the nuclear reactors. That will at least help as much to reinvigorate their manufacturing industry as restarting old unsafe reactors. (Although whether Japan should be trying to out-compete in manufacturing is another matter. I don't think they should.)

Ok, honestly, I do get why. It's the same old, "We're Japan. We've always done things this way. We're not going to change even if you kill us." Arghhhhhh...

Fukushima and regulatory failure? (1)

dgharmon (2564621) | about a year ago | (#43074591)

"Supposedly, they are overhauling their nuclear regulatory agencies to fix the massive failure and regulatory capture that led to Fukushima being run unsafely"

Where do you source your 'facts'. Fukushima was never run unsafely. Fukushima was built in a known earthquake zone. Fukushima experienced an earthquake and flooding from a tsunami leading to a failure of the emergency generators which led to coolant failure which led to reactor mentdown. No amount of 'regulatory capture' could have prevented this.

Re:Fukushima and regulatory failure? (1)

miletus (552448) | about a year ago | (#43074729)

Perhaps regulatory capture would have required that the last line of defense against a meltdown, the backup diesel generators, should not have been in the basement of a plant located in a tsunami zone?

Re:Fukushima and regulatory failure? (3, Insightful)

hawguy (1600213) | about a year ago | (#43075055)

Perhaps regulatory capture would have required that the last line of defense against a meltdown, the backup diesel generators, should not have been in the basement of a plant located in a tsunami zone?

The earthquake exceeded the design limits for the plant - if they put the generators on towers or on the tops of buildings, they may have crashed to the ground when the quake hit. There's no guarantee that moving the generators higher would have made things better. In retrospect it's not hard to come up with a design that perfectly addresses all of the issues from the last disaster, the hard part is coming up with a design that addresses all of the issues of the next, unknown disaster.

Re:Fukushima and regulatory failure? (1)

rubycodez (864176) | about a year ago | (#43075407)

utter nonsense, the gensets at a nuke plant are huge and anchored to structural concrete, they aren't going to shake loose and fall off. are you imagining some pull-start unit on a cart for your house?

Re:Fukushima and regulatory failure? (2)

hawguy (1600213) | about a year ago | (#43075529)

utter nonsense, the gensets at a nuke plant are huge and anchored to structural concrete, they aren't going to shake loose and fall off. are you imagining some pull-start unit on a cart for your house?

No, I'm picturing a 30 ton genset sitting on top of a structure designed to withstand a magnitude 7.9 quake getting hit with more ground movement than it was designed for when a 9.0 quake hits offshore, resulting in support structure failure.

Re:Fukushima and regulatory failure? (1)

drinkypoo (153816) | about a year ago | (#43075955)

Where do you source your 'facts'. Fukushima was never run unsafely. Fukushima was built in a known earthquake zone.

Every second that Fukushima was running was unsafe, because of where it was built; in a known tsunami zone, below ancient markers still standing explaining just what a bad idea it was.

No amount of 'regulatory capture' could have prevented this.

Preventing the US government from forcing Japan to place the reactors there would have prevented this... whoops

Liquid Fluoride Thorium Reactors (2, Informative)

weilawei (897823) | about a year ago | (#43075383)

I'm surprised no one seems to have mentioned this, but we ran a very safe (for the time) molten-salt reactor [energyfromthorium.com] , AKA the LFTR (liquid fluoride thorium reactor). Later, total decommisioning was found to be an issue, but we've done what scientists and engineers do: find solutions. From Wiki: "Much of the high cost was caused by the unpleasant surprise of fluorine and uranium hexafluoride evolution from cold fuel salt in storage that ORNL did not defuel and store correctly, but this has now been taken into consideration in MSR design.[22] [moltensalt.org] "

Nuclear is here to stay, in one form or another, unless humans cease to exist. Note that I didn't say "cease to exist tomorrow or next week." Try to think long-term. If you still can't wrap your head around the idea that nothing in the universe comes for free, and that we are stuck on a very small rock, your Buxton Index [utexas.edu] might not be the same as mine.

not the least bit surprised (1)

v1 (525388) | about a year ago | (#43075581)

with another summer coming up, Japan has been hurting for power after the shutdowns. Such a small land mass and so many people, nuclear power is really their best option. It takes a LOT of power to AC that many people on a sweltering Japanese summer day.

Big Trade Deficits (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43075619)

I would think that Japan being forced to import a bunch of oil and natural gas had a lot to do with it. Especially with their new easy-money monetary policy. A falling yen will mean even bigger trade deficits.

Time to fire up the nukes.

Nuclear energy could be a great boon if... (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43075625)

The damn hippies, closed minded politicians, oil companies, coal producers and so on would shut their mouths.

Nuclear energy is a amazing thing that is really a great boon to us. But the problem is everyone tries to cock block it (mostly due to old concepts and misinformation) so we are stuck with old technology and old technology doesnt stand up so yes we have problems with it. But what people dont realize is they dont want new nuclear plants, so we have ones that are way to old and have problems, those problems make people not want more nuclear energy so instead of letting us use new designs and build new plants they make us us the old unsafe ones.

Its essentially like saying "Seat belts? You shouldnt be using cars at all, we dont want you making cars or redesigning them at all because too many people die in them" so instead of making cars safer and better people are stuck using the unsafe models because the general consensus is the old models arent safe.

Nuclear energy has a bad name because everyone is all "GO GREEN!" and automatically thinks that nuclear energy will poison our planet and rape our familes. Why? Because of bad information and bad misconceptions. Nuclear energy is more efficent, uses less resources, more potent and cleaner than what we use now. PLus its use could be lowered in a lot of places where water and wind energy could be also. A major city that taps in nuclear, wind and or water reduces the need for any one of them since they are using them together. Nuclear energy in some places could be the sole source of energy if need be, but in a lot of places it could be used with other forms of natural energy combined.

Re:Nuclear energy could be a great boon if... (1)

weilawei (897823) | about a year ago | (#43075645)

+1, but I'm out of mod points. It's not phrased in a PC manner, so I expect this'll wind up at the bottom of the heap, but hey, AC is pretty spot on.

Case for nuclear (1)

wakeboarder (2695839) | about a year ago | (#43075947)

You can make nuclear safe, but it depends on your tolerance level. I personally don't understand why their aren't places in the world that you can't put a plant, don't put them next to population centers, don't put them next to high risk areas. Fukushima and Chernobyl are the outliers on the graph, they both had bad conditions that led to their demise. Plus, all of the plants that have failed were gen 1 plants, there are designs now that shut down by physical design. It is possible to build a safe nuclear plant, 99% or more of them have run just fine, every day and provide a good base power to supply our needs. A big problem in our society is we want to have our cake and eat it too. We want cheap power, but somehow we have convinced ourselves that we can turn the lights on, but shouldn't have to deal with the consequences. You can't build wind, it kills the birds and it looks bad in a backyard. You definitely cannot build hydro, it is too damaging. You cant have coal, it makes the world too warm. And now you can't have nuclear, not anywhere, because of two accidents. (Thank goodness for natural gas and the timing of it). Someday, we will figure out how to develop a cheaper energy source (maybe fusion, maybe something else, but that day is not today, and we need something to tide us over until then)

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