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Stung By Scandal, South Korea Weighs Up Cost of Curbing Nuclear Power

samzenpus posted about 6 months ago | from the add-it-up dept.

Power 200

mdsolar writes in about an ongoing scandal in South Korea that has rocked their nuclear power program. "It started with a few bogus safety certificates for cables shutting a handful of South Korean nuclear reactors. Now, the scandal has snowballed, with 100 people indicted and Seoul under pressure to rethink its reliance on nuclear power. A shift away from nuclear, which generates a third of South Korea's electricity, could cost tens of billions of dollars a year by boosting imports of liquefied natural gas, oil or coal. Although helping calm safety concerns, it would also push the government into a politically sensitive debate over whether state utilities could pass on sharply higher power bills to households and companies. Gas, which makes up half of South Korea's energy bill while accounting for only a fifth of its power, would likely be the main substitute for nuclear, as it is considered cleaner than coal and plants can be built more easily near cities."

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200 comments

Extract their own gas (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#45259681)

A diet of kimchi and dog meat produces a log of gas.

Re:Extract their own gas (1)

c-A-d (77980) | about 6 months ago | (#45260133)

It's not like they'd be hooking up extraction and capture devices to the back ends of people.... that'd be Japan.

Who gives a shit? (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#45259707)

It is South Korea. If you have a culture that will fuck up safety certificates at nuclear plants, do you think they are suddenly going to be better with natural gas plants?

Fix the fucking culture and kill the corruption. The technology was never the problem.

Re:Who gives a shit? (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#45259753)

One LNG storage facility exploding could rival a nuclear weapon detonation in terms of sheer devastation and lives lost. Thankfully, it would not incur fallout or irradiation exposure.

Re:Who gives a shit? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#45260123)

Scary story. Got any actual facts to back that up or are you just repeating bullshit stories heard elsewhere?

Re:Who gives a shit? (2)

GameboyRMH (1153867) | about 6 months ago | (#45260447)

Dunno about rivaling a nuclear explosion...but it sure looked huge:

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Toronto_propane_explosion [wikipedia.org]

Re:Who gives a shit? (1)

Bill_the_Engineer (772575) | about 6 months ago | (#45260895)

It does look huge. It only directly caused one death (plant employee) and the second death was from a fire fighter having cardiac arrest at the scene. I would say that this doesn't even come close to justifying the hyperbole of "One LNG storage facility exploding could rival a nuclear weapon detonation". The cleanup cost was only 1.8 million CAD and about a day's worth of inconvenience to the surrounding community.

Re:Who gives a shit? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#45260995)

Scary story. Got any actual facts to back that up or are you just repeating bullshit stories heard elsewhere?

"rival a nuclear weapon" is the bullshit metric. Yields for real weaponized devices in the US range from the 10 ton Davy Crockett artillery shell to the 9 megaton Titan II ICBM. Industrial accident explosions bigger than 10 tons? Those happen on a monthly basis. "Bigger than a nuke" is not that impressive.

Could an LNG tanker detonated in a very bad way (BLEVE explosion) level a city? Yes. They are carrying more bang than the ship that leveled Halifax in 1917. It would be awful. So are tsunamis, mud slides, earthquakes, dam bursts, hurricanes, tornadoes, floods, and everything else that does "nuclear weapon"-level damage to cities.

Re: Who gives a shit? (1)

smaddox (928261) | about 6 months ago | (#45261151)

Also luckily, nuclear fission reactors cant and dont detonate. Modern designs cant even meltdown.

Re:Who gives a shit? (1, Insightful)

ArcadeMan (2766669) | about 6 months ago | (#45259763)

The same could be said about the USA, where money equals law and justice is make-believe for kids stories.

Re:Who gives a shit? (2, Interesting)

Ralph Wiggam (22354) | about 6 months ago | (#45260119)

You can't see me making the "jerk off" motion with my hand, but I'm doing it.

There have been zero safety issues with American nuclear plants for 30 years.

Re:Who gives a shit? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#45260149)

You can't see me making the "jerk off" motion with my hand, but I'm doing it.

You may as well give up on that. A decade of indoctrination here on Slashdot has left most people believing that gesture really means "not of the hive", given how often they see it and what stimuli has been observed to trigger it.

Re:Who gives a shit? (4, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#45260211)

'On March 5, 2002, maintenance workers discovered that corrosion had eaten a football-sized hole into the reactor vessel head of the Davis-Besse plant. Although the corrosion did not lead to an accident, this was considered to be a serious nuclear safety incident.[65][66] The Nuclear Regulatory Commission kept Davis-Besse shut down until March 2004, so that FirstEnergy was able to perform all the necessary maintenance for safe operations. The NRC imposed its largest fine ever—more than $5 million—against FirstEnergy for the actions that led to the corrosion. The company paid an additional $28 million in fines under a settlement with the U.S. Department of Justice.[65]'

You can't see me making the 'dick head' motion with my hand, but I'm making it.

Re:Who gives a shit? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#45260795)

Not to justify this in any way, I should note that a leak in the head is the best place for it to occur. It is pretty much impossible to form a bubble in the core if this happens, and even low pressure systems would be able to reflood the core. Where you don't want a leak is in the cold leg, specifically at a slow rate that allows a loss of water but where pressure is maintained by heating up. In that case you can uncover the core before you are able to decrease pressure enough to allow your ECCS system to inject water.

Re:Who gives a shit? (2)

n1ywb (555767) | about 6 months ago | (#45260329)

Tell that to all the tritium that's leaked into the ground water out of Vermont Yankee. Or the collapsing cooling tower. Sure, the cooling tower wasn't radioactive, but what does that tell you about the way they run their railroad? Now the plant is closing taking the jobs and the property values with it. Glad I don't live in Vernon.

Re:Who gives a shit? (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#45261007)

Tritium? Are you fucking kidding me? An extremely low beta decay with a nuclide that will not bioaccumulate? Tritium is a fucking joke. Nobody has every been hurt by tritum.

And your cooling tower connection? There was a recent anti-nuclear protest at a coal plant. Why? Because they had a cooling tower. Anti-nuke people are fucking idiots sometimes.

Re:Who gives a shit? (2, Informative)

Austrian Anarchy (3010653) | about 6 months ago | (#45260379)

It is South Korea. If you have a culture that will fuck up safety certificates at nuclear plants, do you think they are suddenly going to be better with natural gas plants?

Fix the fucking culture and kill the corruption. The technology was never the problem.

Do you think they have a monopoly on that culture? Witness our very own government owned and operated Tennessee Valley Authority [knoxnews.com] and they falsified readings of wells around the coal slurry dam. Oh, they do it with nuclear too [knoxnews.com] .

Why are they rethinking nuclear? (2)

Fwipp (1473271) | about 6 months ago | (#45259727)

As far as I can tell, the problem is that nuclear plants were closed in the interests of safety while they await safety recertification - which seems like the straightforward thing to do in any case where safety requirements are found to be in violation.

Is it simply a matter of failure modes? That is, because the worst-case scenario for a fission plant is worse than that of a coal plant?

Re:Why are they rethinking nuclear? (3, Insightful)

X0563511 (793323) | about 6 months ago | (#45260043)

I don't get it either. This is a problem of corruption, not technology.

Re:Why are they rethinking nuclear? (2)

Gareth Iwan Fairclough (2831535) | about 6 months ago | (#45260229)

This is yet another FUD piece on nuclear energy. That's all it is. If it were about gas, coal or so called 'renewable' energy then this would not have be reported at all.

Thorium (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#45260651)

Anyone for a Thorium reactor?

Re:Why are they rethinking nuclear? (3, Informative)

leuk_he (194174) | about 6 months ago | (#45260493)

Because ....

"Politicians at a congressional hearing on Monday estimated the recent nuclear scandals have cost operator KHNP nearly 3 trillion won ($2.8 billion) in cable replacement, loss of power sales and payment to KEPCO to replace nuclear power with electricity from other fuels. "

In other words: the fuel may be cheap, the total costs of nuclear might be much higher. And you cannot simply solve corruption. If that is possible with a reasonable cost, it would be solved now.

Simply reducing the problem to one point and declaring it will be solvable is armchair activism.

Look at it this way: the worst case scenario should be insured. But no conglomerate of insurers will ever insure your nuclear plant, because the worst case scenario is far too expensive.

Re:Why are they rethinking nuclear? (1)

Mr D from 63 (3395377) | about 6 months ago | (#45260573)

True, you can't solve corruption. You can uncover it with the appropriate oversight and processes in place. And the costs associated with not getting away with it can be a big deterrent for some period of time. Its also a cultural thing, some places the controls are harder to implement effectively.

Re:Why are they rethinking nuclear? (1)

gnasher719 (869701) | about 6 months ago | (#45261241)

True, you can't solve corruption. You can uncover it with the appropriate oversight and processes in place. And the costs associated with not getting away with it can be a big deterrent for some period of time. Its also a cultural thing, some places the controls are harder to implement effectively.

It cost the company $2.8bn to dig up cables, check them, replace them, and during that time have the reactor shut down. Let's say that doing the job properly in the first place and getting correct safety certificates would have cost $100mil additional, so there was $2.7bn in damages.

What about everyone involved in causing the damage to go to jail for just one month per million dollar damages. Up to the CEO of the company starting it all. Guess what his replacement CEO will do if anyone comes up with the smart idea of saving money by forging certification.

And where will they get the natural gas??? RUSSIA! (4, Informative)

madhatter256 (443326) | about 6 months ago | (#45259749)

Yep.

I wouldn't be surprised if Russia is wetting themselves as more and more countries are abandoning nuclear power and switching to natural gas, which Russia has a monopoly over in Asia.

Re:And where will they get the natural gas??? RUSS (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#45259871)

No, they're probably wetting themselves because they drank too much vodka before passing out.

-- Ethanol-fueled

Re: And where will they get the natural gas??? RUS (1)

jd2112 (1535857) | about 6 months ago | (#45260191)

You underestimate the alcohol tolerance of a typical Russian.

Re:And where will they get the natural gas??? RUSS (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#45259993)

Their neighbors to the north have large coal reserves. Maybe they could look into that.

Let's go BACKWARDS! (5, Insightful)

Stephen Thomas Kraus Jr (3382177) | about 6 months ago | (#45259757)

Seriously, the scandal is less of an issue with nuclear power, it could have happened to ANY of the generating systems they want to switch to as well. Privatizing power generation doesn't work. Its been proven by TEPCO, in the US, and now in South Korea, because the companies will skirt the law anywhere they can as long as they can until they finally get caught. Don't switch to fossil fuels like Gas or Coal, keep the Nuclear and take the plants away from the corporations and put them under strict government control.

Re:Let's go BACKWARDS! (2)

clarkkent09 (1104833) | about 6 months ago | (#45260027)

What evidence do you have that the government will do a better job or be less corrupt than the private companies? Or is government a default solution to every problem regardless of its own (numerous) problems?

Re:Let's go BACKWARDS! (4, Insightful)

Microlith (54737) | about 6 months ago | (#45260097)

Publicly owned utilities have no incentive to cut costs in an effort to boost profit margins. They can run with a zero margin and no shareholders exist to whine and bitch.

Or is government a default solution to every problem regardless of its own (numerous) problems?

It's a possible course of action when private industry rears its corrupt, incompetent head.

Re:Let's go BACKWARDS! (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#45260197)

Publicly owned utilities have no incentive to cut costs in an effort to boost profit margins. They can run with a zero margin and no shareholders exist to whine and bitch.

Or is government a default solution to every problem regardless of its own (numerous) problems?

It's a possible course of action when private industry rears its corrupt, incompetent head.

The problem is that while it is a possible course of action, it is also effectively a one way door since the converse so rarely happens. When a government organization rears its corrupt, incompetent and *politically connected* head, there is no way to cut it off like you are suggesting.

How about the less drastic solution of replacing corrupt, incompetent private entity A with a new (i.e., not yet corrupt) and competent private entity B?
Rinse and repeat every couple decades as needed.

Re:Let's go BACKWARDS! (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#45260303)

"The reverse rarely happens"? Except for the entire time since 1980 when privatization has been a major factor in making many previously government run entities into private companies.

Re:Let's go BACKWARDS! (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#45260375)

And thus bids where born... The problem with bid is that your stuck with the less expensive yet still compliant submitter. Of course since he bid under everybody else you can expect him to cut corner everywhere he can....

So you increase the check and condition on the bid and then no one respond....

And you wonder why gouvernement are so big.

Incentive (1)

phorm (591458) | about 6 months ago | (#45261265)

But management may have incentive to cut costs/employees (budget cuts) and employees may have incentive to fake reports (laziness/ineptitude). See also the issues in SK with the national airlines...

Re:Let's go BACKWARDS! (1)

Stephen Thomas Kraus Jr (3382177) | about 6 months ago | (#45260127)

Based on the quote at the bottom of your post: "Democracy is nothing more than mob rule, where 51 percent may take away the rights of the 49" I'm guessing that explains your inability to understand why privatizing key industries might be a bad thing.

One word: Enron (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#45260399)

One word: Enron

The US already tried privatizing public utilities like power. Look how it turned out and learn from that example. Utilities are just one important category that are much more efficiently managed in the public sector.

Besides, it has gotten to the point where mismanagement and government bailouts are effectively part of the new way of doing business. If the government is going to be paying anyway, it might as well become the owner. That's how it works when a company buys out another's debts, there's no reason not to apply that to the government. Going public sector from the beginning simply cuts out some wasteful missteps.

Re:Let's go BACKWARDS! (2, Insightful)

ShanghaiBill (739463) | about 6 months ago | (#45260817)

What evidence do you have that the government will do a better job or be less corrupt than the private companies?

Chernobyl was government owned and operated, and it worked fine for years before it caught fire and exploded.

Re:Let's go BACKWARDS! (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#45261181)

How about a cooperative? Independent from government, but not driven by profit. The government could set it up, but then treat it like a third party.

Re:Let's go BACKWARDS! (1)

Nemyst (1383049) | about 6 months ago | (#45260125)

This is Slashdot and you're advocating... big government? *shudders*

(If it wasn't readily apparent, this comment is entirely sarcastic)

Re:Let's go BACKWARDS! (1)

bsolar (1176767) | about 6 months ago | (#45260135)

This scandal is an issue exactly because it involves nuclear power. Nuclear power to be safe requires far higher security standards that any other generating system. The alternative you propose is that the government does everything itself without contractors. I cannot even imagine how much higher would be the cost of building and maintaining a nuclear power plant under these limitations.

Nuclear safety is different (3, Informative)

mdsolar (1045926) | about 6 months ago | (#45260161)

There is a big difference between a nuclear accident and other power plant accidents. It puts a huge swath of land into an uninhabitable state for a long period. Think about the property value in the area surrounding the Indian Point plant in NY. A full payout of the Price Anderson Act liability for a large accident there would topple the treasury. An accident at a coal plant isn't likely to put our very government in danger.

Re:Nuclear safety is different (1)

Stephen Thomas Kraus Jr (3382177) | about 6 months ago | (#45260205)

The idea that 'property values' is a legitimate reason to switch back to coal, a disgusting, filthy, and radioactive emitter because of land values is laughable. We'd never make any progress on climate change if all we're concerned with is 'land values'

Re:Nuclear safety is different (5, Insightful)

bsolar (1176767) | about 6 months ago | (#45260479)

Long term coal is not the answer, but current technology nuclear power is not either. We'd never make any progress on nuclear power itself if there is no incentive in pushing new generation technologies. Let's stop subsidizing nuclear power accident liability costs: either you manage to design it to be safe enough to be privately insureable, or it's not safe enough to get built.

Re:Nuclear safety is different (4, Insightful)

ultranova (717540) | about 6 months ago | (#45260741)

Let's stop subsidizing nuclear power accident liability costs: either you manage to design it to be safe enough to be privately insureable, or it's not safe enough to get built.

Sure thing. We'll just build a few coal plants instead. They're privately insurable despite killing people and destroying the environment when operating normally, since unlike nuclear no one expects them to pay for their externalities. Or we could build a hundred large solar plants, which together equal about one reactor as long as sun shines from cloudless skies. That shouldn't require any subsidies, and if it does, it's okay because it's not nuclear. Of course, they'll still need those coal plants for backup, but that's okay because dying from microparticle-induced cancer is a lot better than dying from radiation-induced cancer, amirite?

Re:Nuclear safety is different (3, Interesting)

Roogna (9643) | about 6 months ago | (#45260341)

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Centralia,_Pennsylvania [wikipedia.org]

Well coal certainly didn't do anything for their property values...

Re:Nuclear safety is different (2)

AmiMoJo (196126) | about 6 months ago | (#45260563)

Why does every debate on energy quickly turn to "which is the worst"?

Leaving renewables aside modern coal, as a stop-gap measure, isn't actually that bad. Full carbon and emission capture is possible. It costs more, but not as much as nuclear or gas in most countries. Having said that I'd probably still object to building such plants because they are only a stop-gap until we have something better, but would inevitably turn into the long term plan.

Re:Nuclear safety is different (1)

CanadianMacFan (1900244) | about 6 months ago | (#45260999)

It's not just the emissions from the plant that you need to take into consideration. Mining for coal can be a very destructive and dangerous process.

Re:Nuclear safety is different (1)

Smidge204 (605297) | about 6 months ago | (#45261403)

Problem is, it wouldn't be a "stop-gap" measure. Unless you have a different definition of "stop-gap" from mine.

Given the costs if construction and maintenance, whatever you built will be used until the cost of maintaining it outstrips the cost of building something else, just like with the nuclear plant now. Better to just transition straight to something that already IS better, even if it costs more now, and be done with it.
=Smidge=

Re:Nuclear safety is different (0)

Mr D from 63 (3395377) | about 6 months ago | (#45260471)

Land near nuclear plants is often very attractive and valuable in relative terms. Much more so than land near fossil plants, or large industrial facilities. This argument is tired and indefensible when you look at the land surrounding most of the plants in the US. Meanwhile, coal plants are already spreading filth over a wider swath of the country, its not a risk that might happen, its happening every day.

An accident at a nuclear plant that would contaminate nearby land is highly unlikely, unless of course you do something crazy like take a plant that is not designed to be run underwater, and place it underwater. A large storm or earthquake is much more likely to cost more, and they happen with regular frequency. Hell, we had New Orleans basically wiped off the map, I don't think the treasury blinked. The argument we could not respond if needed is just hyperbole.

The choice is between nuclear, coal, or natural gas. Pick your poison, or mix and match.

Re:Nuclear safety is different (2)

dfenstrate (202098) | about 6 months ago | (#45260565)

I'd like to point out the land around Three Mile Island, the site of the worst pressurized water reactor accident, is perfectly inhabitable, and the other unit on that site continues to run with an excellent safety record. Having a proper containment building helps a great deal.

Re:Nuclear safety is different (0)

somenickname (1270442) | about 6 months ago | (#45260589)

The fossil fuel power plants themselves are less of a danger but, the methods used to extract the fuel can and do render huge swaths of land uninhabitable. There are parts of the U.S. where previously habitable (and populated) land has become uninhabitable (or nearly so) due to the groundwater and air pollution effects of hydraulic fracturing.

Re:Nuclear safety is different (3, Insightful)

Solandri (704621) | about 6 months ago | (#45260633)

There is a big difference between a nuclear accident and other power plant accidents. It puts a huge swath of land into an uninhabitable state for a long period.

You mean exactly like hydro does as a matter of design? [wikipedia.org] From the wiki: "However, the dam flooded archaeological and cultural sites and displaced some 1.3 million people, and is causing significant ecological changes, including an increased risk of landslides."

Just build the nuclear plants in remote locations with an unpopulated safety buffer around them. Prohibit people from settling within that buffer. Best case (if there's no accident) nuclear is better than hydro because local wildlife and access to archeological sites is unaffected. Worst case (if there is an accident) it's slightly better than hydro - the worst of the radiation will disappear in a few decades, while a dam's catch-basin will always be there as long as the dam is in operation.

Why the double standard where it's acceptable with hydro but not with nuclear? Because water is safer than radiation? Drowning is one of the leading causes of accidental death, and the death and destruction from the one major hydroelectric dam failure [wikipedia.org] far, far exceed anything from Chernobyl and Fukushima combined. If that's your argument against nuclear power, then you should be even more strongly against hydroelectric power.

Re:Nuclear safety is different (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#45260983)

There is a big difference between a nuclear accident and other power plant accidents. It puts a huge swath of land into an uninhabitable state for a long period.

Just like hydro-electric:

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

Of course the other choice is fossil fuels, in which case you're poisoning people over time WHEN emissions are released, instead of all at once IF there's a nuclear incident occurs.

Re:Let's go BACKWARDS! (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#45260221)

What makes you think having a public power sector is any different? Government bureaucrats are just as prone to cutting corners to cut costs or spend money in the wrong places as the private sector, just for different motivations. Frankly the private sector is easier to control than the government sector; imagine in the US indicting 100 government employees for this. The SEIU would fight it every step of the way; at least with the private sector all you need to do is align their profit structure with proper maintenance profiles, and there's at least as many special interest groups and as much money opposed to the power generation folks so there's at least competition for buying influence in DC.

Re:Let's go BACKWARDS! (2)

Mr D from 63 (3395377) | about 6 months ago | (#45260239)

Should we apply this logic to pharmaceutical companies in the US, or even food companies, where failures in maintaining safety standards have actually killed people? The government has a woeful record of maintaining nuclear safety (DOD waste site, for example), while utilities, both privately and publicly owned, have done an excellent job in comparison with most other industries. TVA has done a good job as well. The NRC regulatory structure, while not perfect, is very effective. I think they would be less effective if the government also ran all the plants, and/or ran the fuel cycle.

Re:Let's go BACKWARDS! (2)

taiwanjohn (103839) | about 6 months ago | (#45260317)

If you're going to "do" nuclear, at least do it in a sensible way. IE: Do NOT use solid-fuel LWR technology, that is just f**king stupid. If you use a liquid coolant that naturally turns to a gas at BELOW the working temperature of your reactor, you have a stupid f**king design. An "average" LWR has to operate at 100+ atmospheres of pressure, just to keep the coolant (water) in liquid phase. This invites a host of engineering challenges that would be completely unnecessary with a design (such as LFTR [wikipedia.org] ) that operates at ambient pressure.

Unfortunately, the energy "marketplace" is dominated by big-capital players who are quite happy to suckle at the government teat to cover their outrageous overhead. Sadly, this is one area where "capitalism" has failed, big-time.

Re:Let's go BACKWARDS! (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#45261121)

It sounds great in theory, but it is still experimental and the idea of having a liquid serve as both fuel and coolant doesn't sound like that great an idea either, even if it's at atmospheric pressure. And graphite moderator has a nasty habit of burning in an accident (versus boiling in a water reactor, I'm not sure if this is better or worse) and has a positive feedback effect on moderation (as temperature goes up, it becomes more effective). Most of the fluorides being suggested are significantly toxic, and it's a lot of hassle to keep it molten when doing maintenance or any other downtime. I'd much rather have the coolant and moderator be the same thing, so that if you lose your coolant you're also losing the ability the sustain the fuel reaction, but do it at a lower energy density, such as with the CANDU designs and a heavy water reactor. The costs are higher up-front, but you save on fuel costs and duty cycle.

Re:Let's go BACKWARDS! (1)

mlts (1038732) | about 6 months ago | (#45260449)

Long term, until fusion is sustainable for production energy, the ideal would be a coal/gas plant as the starter (nuclear plants require power on the grind to come online after a grid outage), then have the general power be primarily nuclear.

With better batteries and solar, that will do a lot to ease peak consumption. If we can get batteries that are within an order of magnitude of gasoline that can store power overnight, this would significantly ease the load from the power grid.

Re:Let's go BACKWARDS! (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#45260729)

If your country is unable to run a nuclear power plant without massive corruption then yeah, its a good time to think about moving away from nuclear power.

Corruption isn't just systemic in SK. It's literally how the country is run. Five large companies control 90% of the economy and they Govt is unashamedly controlled by them. (This is not an exaggeration. It's actually probably an understatement Google the word "Chaebol" and learn why anti-trust legislation is so important)

Conflict of interest leads to corruption every time. Running a Nuclear power plant with no effective oversight is literal disaster waiting to happen.

Re:Let's go BACKWARDS! (1)

green is the enemy (3021751) | about 6 months ago | (#45260901)

The main issue may not be private-owned for-profit vs. government-owned non-profit utilities, but the safety vs. cost tradeoff. We are already operating in a tricky middle ground where the cost is already quite high (other energy sources are already cheaper, at least in the short term), but safety is still somewhat lacking (accidents, like Fukushima, still happen). The best way to solve this problem is probably with new nuclear technology development. Safer and cheaper nuclear reactors should be possible.

Re:Let's go BACKWARDS! (2)

loshwomp (468955) | about 6 months ago | (#45261293)

other energy sources are already cheaper [than nuclear]

That depends on how you account for the strip mining, fracking, CO2 and things like radiation (from coal plants) spewing into the atmosphere (which we all share). There aren't low carbon sources that are both cheaper than nuclear and suitable for base load.

safety is still somewhat lacking (accidents, like Fukushima, still happen)

And for perspective, coal plants emit more radiation when working normally, 24x7.

Safer and cheaper nuclear reactors should be possible.

Are possible, and much safer technology (than was in place at any of the high-profile incidents) exists today.

Re:Let's go BACKWARDS! (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#45261359)

Solar, Wind, natural gas, Batteries will beat nuclear on MARKET RULES!

It's becoming clear (0)

P-niiice (1703362) | about 6 months ago | (#45259773)

It's becoming clear that where there are millions of dollars floating around, and there are humans, there is corruption and problems to be found wherever you look. Government or privately owned, human nature will take over if it's not tightly monitered. It's not even surprising anymore. Given that, religion is probably the worst, as no one monitors them at all.

Re:It's becoming clear (2)

Stephen Thomas Kraus Jr (3382177) | about 6 months ago | (#45259783)

The only flaw in your argument: Government controlled utilities have less reason to cut corners because they are not in it to satisfy board members every year or meet quarterly profit margins. The government is just happy with breaking even, corporations want profits.

Re:It's becoming clear (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#45259927)

The government is just happy with breaking even, corporations want profits.

I would really like to know what government you are speaking of. Either it is a minimally tyrannical utopia, or a vicious master of brain-washing. Either way, it deserves more attention.

Re:It's becoming clear (1)

i kan reed (749298) | about 6 months ago | (#45259859)

This is like a drunk-walk of angry complaining. Jumping from topic to related topic you're outraged about seemingly at random.

Korea has No Fossil Fuel (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#45259843)

Looking at this site [mazamascience.com] , it looks like South Korea imports all its coal, old and gas, producing none at all itself. It only needs to look at its neighbor to the North to see what would happen if its energy imports were ever disrupted, so I'm surprised there is any thought to reducing their nuclear capacity.

So corruption... (1, Flamebait)

Jawnn (445279) | about 6 months ago | (#45259915)

...and dangerous corner-cutting in the construction and operation of nuclear power plants is bad? Good thing that only happens in "backwards" little countries like South Korea. Right? I mean that could never happen here in the U.S. Right?

The unthinkable solution (4, Funny)

Legion (15548) | about 6 months ago | (#45259941)

Or you could, I dunno, provide competent and effective _oversight_ to ensure the nuclear plants are being operated safely? I know - that's just crazy talk.

Nuclear reactors are not toys (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#45260041)

Why do governments insist on treating nuclear reactors like any other public works construction? They're big, they're expensive, and they absolutely abide no skimping or mistakes. Play by the rules and you get an abundance of cheap electric power. Fail and you have a century's worth of radioactive mess to clean up.

We're just gonna have to wait. (2, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#45260053)

Nuclear power and a culture based on money can not work safely.

Humans are just too shortsighted, greedy, and unwise for nuclear power yet.

Evolve dammit.

Re:We're just gonna have to wait. (1)

zippthorne (748122) | about 6 months ago | (#45260299)

I've got some bad news for you about the selection pressure.

All those ill-gotten gains from graft and corruption only serve to increase the number of reproductive opportunities for the holder. Especially if that person has no inclination toward monogamy.

Antinuclear bias stops global climate change fight (1, Interesting)

greg_barton (5551) | about 6 months ago | (#45260189)

We all know what moving off nuclear means: more reliance on fossil fuels.

But I guess that's what the environmentalists want. (It's obvious that the political right wants that.) I used to think that the scales tipped towards environmentalists being simply naive in their mistaken belief that renewables could handle the load nuclear currently does, but it's obvious at this point that they cannot, and that every time you shut down a nuclear reactor fossil fuels take their place. The inescapable conclusion is that environmentalists must want more gas and coal burned in the world.

Re:Antinuclear bias stops global climate change fi (1)

Solandri (704621) | about 6 months ago | (#45260241)

We all know what moving off nuclear means: more reliance on fossil fuels.

But I guess that's what the environmentalists want. (It's obvious that the political right wants that.)

The political right wants nuclear, but gave up fighting environmentalists over it long ago.

Re:Antinuclear bias stops global climate change fi (3, Insightful)

greg_barton (5551) | about 6 months ago | (#45260333)

I'm not so sure the right wants nuclear. They've been letting the left crush it by proxy for decades.

Re:Antinuclear bias stops global climate change fi (2)

SleazyRidr (1563649) | about 6 months ago | (#45260603)

The right wants cheap power. Nuclear used to be the way to make that happen, but with all the problems with environmentalists gas is starting to look like a much better option.

Re:Antinuclear bias stops global climate change fi (1)

greg_barton (5551) | about 6 months ago | (#45260627)

I'm not sure they want cheap power inasmuch as they want profitable power. Nuclear may actually be too cheap.

Re:Antinuclear bias stops global climate change fi (1)

Shatrat (855151) | about 6 months ago | (#45261137)

Cheap power is profitable power for the guys that own factories, foundries, datacenters, etc.

Re:Antinuclear bias stops global climate change fi (1, Troll)

Nemyst (1383049) | about 6 months ago | (#45260591)

The environmentalists you're talking about definitely don't want nuclear. But they also don't want coal. Or gas. Or oil. Or hydro. Wind and solar are iffy. Basically they want us to use dynamos strapped on bicycles and maybe geothermal.

In other words, they don't seem to realize that their uncompromising attitude is marginalizing them all while making the situation worse.

Re:Antinuclear bias stops global climate change fi (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#45260733)

"...us to use dynamos strapped on bicycles and maybe geothermal."

No, large-scale geothermal often uses hydraulic fracturing, which they apparently also don't want.

Re:Antinuclear bias stops global climate change fi (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#45260697)

..The inescapable conclusion is that environmentalists must want more gas and coal burned in the world....

And why not? That would be very good for plants, and the environment generally. It would green the Sahara, for instance. And it's obviously not warming the planet...

Re:Antinuclear bias stops global climate change fi (2, Insightful)

AmiMoJo (196126) | about 6 months ago | (#45260767)

Ah, the scientifically illiterate nukefan. Always focusing on single, small ideas and unable to see the bigger picture, or understand how we have already solved these problems.

Installing renewable capacity isn't just about building wind, wave, hyro, solar thermal, geothermal and biomass plants, or installing solar PV on buildings. It's about reducing energy consumption by making buildings more efficient and building a smart grid that can manage the load and store energy.

It's actually cheaper to save energy than add new capacity of any kind, and it makes everyone's lives better too. Some people baulk at the idea of anything so socialist, but just keep in mind that you are going to pay for it one way or another. Your choice is give the money to a power company to build some big plant that pollutes and damages your health while lining their pockets, or spend less money making your own life better.

Coal and gas do have a role to play as interim measures before we get very high levels of renewables, and even beyond that point to help smooth capacity. The caveat is that we need to build clean coal and gas plants with carbon capture. It works by capturing all the carbon and other emissions from the plant and storing them underground long term, much like nuclear waste. Of course, it has many of the same problems as nuclear waste does, but being realistic we will need that kind of bridge in the medium term.

Re:Antinuclear bias stops global climate change fi (1)

rasmusbr (2186518) | about 6 months ago | (#45261205)

How much does it cost to save a unit of energy of a certain type (heat, electricity, fuel)? How much does it cost to produce a unit of energy of the same type?

Don't be surprised if there's an order of magnitude difference in cost, and not in the direction that you might expect.

Re:Antinuclear bias stops global climate change fi (1)

Rising Ape (1620461) | about 6 months ago | (#45261215)

It's about reducing energy consumption by making buildings more efficient and building a smart grid that can manage the load and store energy.

That would be fine if the smart grid advocates ever got beyond a hand-wave "smart grid magically fixes intermittency" statement. Exactly *how* is this supposed to happen? We already have mechanisms for spreading the load (off-peak tariffs and so forth). The only technology that is even vaguely economic for storage is pumped storage hydro, which is limited in where you can put it and costs money. And building insulation isn't going to help with electicity as electricity generally isn't used for building heating precisely because it's a lot more expensive than gas.

Re:Antinuclear bias stops global climate change fi (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#45261231)

Don't lump the environmentalists in with the NIMBY's. While its true many environmentalists oppose nuclear, they typically represent minorities of the general population. Everyone else is afraid the plant will go boom. Its fear that is driving this, not Greenies, not right wingers.

Re:Antinuclear bias stops global climate change fi (1)

greg_barton (5551) | about 6 months ago | (#45261437)

The fear is stoked by activists, and those activists are by and large from the left.

Slashdotted? Exaggerated? (1)

MobyDisk (75490) | about 6 months ago | (#45260277)

The article never loaded for me. Try this one: Stung by Scandal [voanews.com]

Also, they aren't eliminating nuclear power. The article says:

The study recommended nuclear power capacity be kept between 22 and 29 percent of the total by 2035, well below existing plans to grow the sector to 41 percent in less than 20 years.

Although if they have a scandal going on, don't think that switching the power source will eliminate the underhanded behavior.

Will won blend? (1)

cloud.pt (3412475) | about 6 months ago | (#45260593)

Give me 10-year worth of the yearly extra spending on those "clean" alternatives and I will create a society-proof system that guara-f*ckin-tees no nuclear disaster will ever happen. With roughly a fraction of the predicted sum, measures such as the ones below are trivially attainable:
  • - Provide government co-funding for implementation of nuclear plants when it's not particularly lucrative for the project execution bidder
  • - Creation of an independent, hybrid nuclear energy committee/military/police body with simultaneous legislative, judicial and executive powers (think Judge Dredd with benefits)
  • - Effectively enable the death-penalty to anyone that threatens, to a certain degree, nuclear energy-related critical regulation;
  • ... and, of course...

  • - Lobby the current government for the previous measures. And with that money, you can be sure even that one about death-penalty would pass, they already have death-penalty there

IMO South Korea is just, like many nations before it, admitting it CAN'T PREVENT CORRUPTION INSIDE ITS OWN SOCIO-CULTURAL BACKGROUND, and throwing the towel is usually the better option. Except in a scenario where the trade-off is going back 100 years, multiplying national the energy bill by 10 and the certainty that the environment will be polluted (as opposed to the casual, totally avoidable nuclear disaster).

If they're doing it on nuclear certs... (1)

alispguru (72689) | about 6 months ago | (#45261375)

... they're doing it on everything.

It is arguably more dangerous to cut corners on, say, a natural gas pipeline than anything at a nuclear plant, because nuclear facilities have a lot more redundancy in their safety systems.

Consider that it is debatable whether the events at Fukushima nuclear plants killed anyone at all, whereas natural gas explosions kill and injure people on a regular basis - Google-searching for "natural gas explosion" turns up three distinct events in the US on the first page, one of which killed an 11-year old girl in West Virginia.

The sun shines there, right? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#45261411)

And does the wind blow?

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