Beta
×

Welcome to the Slashdot Beta site -- learn more here. Use the link in the footer or click here to return to the Classic version of Slashdot.

Thank you!

Before you choose to head back to the Classic look of the site, we'd appreciate it if you share your thoughts on the Beta; your feedback is what drives our ongoing development.

Beta is different and we value you taking the time to try it out. Please take a look at the changes we've made in Beta and  learn more about it. Thanks for reading, and for making the site better!

Europe Warms to Nuclear Power

ScuttleMonkey posted more than 8 years ago | from the practically-melting-with-anticipation dept.

Technology 706

FleaPlus writes "The CS Monitor reports that for the first time in 15 years a European nation has started building a nuclear reactor, with six more likely to be built in the next decade. France is also planning to develop a safer and more efficient "fourth generation" reactor by 2020. This is in light of rising fossil fuel prices and a desire to reduce CO2 emissions. Still, a majority of EU citizens are opposed to nuclear energy, primarily for environmental reasons, even though nuclear power releases less radioactive material than burning coal."

Sorry! There are no comments related to the filter you selected.

Nuclear Power and Hydrogen - The Way of the Future (5, Insightful)

KrisCowboy (776288) | more than 8 years ago | (#14425593)

Nuclear energy and Hydrogen are two effective ways to counter the diminishing fossil fuels. Once the heavy industries and transportation shifts to these alternative fuels, the world doesn't have to depend on Middle-East anymore.

Re:Nuclear Power and Hydrogen - The Way of the Fut (5, Insightful)

Dance_Dance_Karnov (793804) | more than 8 years ago | (#14425597)

only if you are using that a non fossil-fuel energy source to get that hydrogen. It is currently cheapest to get hydrogen from hydro-carbons. (if memory serves)

Re:Nuclear Power and Hydrogen - The Way of the Fut (0, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14425642)

And Israel will be left to its own destiny? You anti-semite!!!

Re:Nuclear Power and Hydrogen - The Way of the Fut (4, Insightful)

Ralph Spoilsport (673134) | more than 8 years ago | (#14425644)

Nuclear Power will get us over for a while. but hydrogen is bullshit. It takes more energy to make H than what you get from burning it. Therefore it is an energy sink, esp. if you get it from cracking H2O. It's better to simply use the electricity you make to crack the water As Electricity to Do Work than to blow it on H.

Nuclear power has promise, though. Especially if we can get IFR reactors going. There is sufficient fuel to power IFR type facilities for many many years. This results because the IFR is a breeder reactor which can utilize uranium 238 and damn near anything else that's densely radioactive. There isn't much of a future for standard fission reactors, and fast breeders are politically insane - but Integral Fast Reactors could really be the ticket for quite some time.

Or, at least until the oil gets so expensive we can't build computers to control the reactors...

RS

Re:Nuclear Power and Hydrogen - The Way of the Fut (4, Insightful)

Walkiry (698192) | more than 8 years ago | (#14425718)

>Nuclear Power will get us over for a while. but hydrogen is bullshit. It takes
>more energy to make H than what you get from burning it. Therefore it is an
>energy sink, esp. if you get it from cracking H2O. It's better to simply use the
>electricity you make to crack the water As Electricity to Do Work than to blow it
>on H.

Hydrogen has the potential of being a way of tapping resources that are otherwise not easy to exploit. Iceland, for example, has huge geothermal potential but it isn't exactly easy to export that electricity out of the middle of the atlantic. Making H could be a decent way of doing so.

Re:Nuclear Power and Hydrogen - The Way of the Fut (2, Informative)

DrEldarion (114072) | more than 8 years ago | (#14425755)

People keep bringing up the "point" that hydrogen takes too much energy to generate. It DOESN'T HAVE TO BE done with electrocity! There are ways of doing it biologically.

http://www.wired.com/news/technology/0,1282,54456, 00.html [wired.com]
http://www.wired.com/wired/archive/10.04/mustread. html?pg=5 [wired.com]

It's basically using solar energy to make hydrogen, but without the trouble of solar cells.

Re:Nuclear Power and Hydrogen - The Way of the Fut (1)

lovebyte (81275) | more than 8 years ago | (#14425706)

And this is the reason behind the research into these 4th generation nuclear plants. These would be small plants that can be put anywhere (almost) to generate power for the production (extraction) of hydrogen for instance.

Re:Nuclear Power and Hydrogen - The Way of the Fut (3, Informative)

genckas (660936) | more than 8 years ago | (#14425735)

Exactly. Nuclear power is not what it used to be in the 70s and 80s. The reactors are quite safe nowadays, especialy the N-type (which the Chinese are also developing). I am for safeguarding the environment but we have to be rational about this, nuclear is efficient and cleaner. Nuclear power has been "labeled" as evil and dangerous but other energy sources, such as coal, tend to cause a lot more damage which is difficult to measure. For example, coal mining alone, is the cause of lung illnesses and lung cancer among people who are exposed to the dust. But when burned (and if the mining is not done properly) this same dust spreads among a larger popullation. I come from a country where the main source of energy is coal. Not only is it insufficient for our energy needs but it also causes unimaginable polution. Totaly opposite with nuclear, where the reaction environment is contained, unless human error causes meltdown (such as in Chernobyl or the Three Mile Island).

Re:Nuclear Power and Hydrogen - The Way of the Fut (1)

nath_de (535933) | more than 8 years ago | (#14425737)

At least in Germany, we would be actually *more* dependend on foreign sources with nuclear power than with other forms of energy as we get 100% of or Uranium from foreign countries.

Re:Nuclear Power and Hydrogen - The Way of the Fut (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14425743)

The answer is to lead a crusade to liberate the oil from Muslim tyranny! Expell or otherwise remove the Arab untermenschen from the oil-rich lands and move good white (American, and possibly European) people into the towns and cities abandoned/cleansed. Death to Arabs! Death to Islam! Death to Allah! Seig Western society!

NASA scientists agree oil is not a fossil fuel (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14425752)

NASA scientists are about to publish conclusive studies showing abundant methane of a non-biologic nature is found on Saturn's giant moon Titan, a finding that validates a new book's contention that oil is not a fossil fuel.

http://home.earthlink.net/~root.man/sci.html [earthlink.net] [earthlink.net]

Re:Nuclear Power and Hydrogen - The Way of the Fut (0, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14425760)

guess where you get uranium from

-1, Pro-Nuclear Propaganda (-1, Troll)

Zontar The Mindless (9002) | more than 8 years ago | (#14425599)

...even though nuclear power releases less radioactive material than burning coal.


Right. Try telling that to the folks who used to live in Chernobyl.

Re:-1, Pro-Nuclear Propaganda (1)

Dance_Dance_Karnov (793804) | more than 8 years ago | (#14425604)

well i'm not sure about this one, but having an exposed reactor core doesn't seem to be standard operating procedure.

Re:-1, Pro-Nuclear Propaganda (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14425615)

Again, try telling that to the folks who used to live in Chernobyl.

Re:-1, Pro-Nuclear Propaganda (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14425622)

What kind of retarded reply is that?

How about we stop driving cars because of the bad memories people have of getting run over or rammed into something by a car?

Get a clue.

Re:-1, Pro-Nuclear Propaganda (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14425633)

True, and today's cores are not self perpetuating. Due to the construction and materials, the core will die out when the plant is abruptly shutdown. The core will even die when the coling systems shutdown or fail. Which was a (if not the) large problem in the design of the old reactors.

Re:-1, Pro-Nuclear Propaganda (2, Interesting)

Mr. Flibble (12943) | more than 8 years ago | (#14425610)

...even though nuclear power releases less radioactive material than burning coal.

Right. Try telling that to the folks who used to live in Chernobyl.

Beautiful straw man there. Read this: How many died? [magma.ca] Oh, and while we are at it, lets compare the number of deaths due to the mining of coal....

I think you will find that Nuclear power (as long as it is not used as a weapon) is considerably safer than coal on the whole.

Re:-1, Pro-Nuclear Propaganda (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14425695)

Good link, but I'm 95% sure you'd have to reach pretty far for a reason to call the original post a straw man.

Re:-1, Pro-Nuclear Propaganda (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14425614)

Uranium was originally obtained from coal. Just because it supports nuclear power doesn't mean that it is wrong.

Re:-1, Pro-Nuclear Propaganda (1)

CosmeticLobotamy (155360) | more than 8 years ago | (#14425620)

Nuclear power does release very little radioactive material. It's the blowing up part that's a problem.

But there are current designs that have no chance of melting down. 20 years makes a lot of difference.

Political problems (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14425683)

the safer or longer lasting reactors all have a political problem - they are more open for abuse by terrorists.

How to backtrack...

Re:-1, Pro-Nuclear Propaganda (1)

cliffski (65094) | more than 8 years ago | (#14425697)

listen to yourself... "no chance". you mean "less chance, as far as we can estimate". Go watch the film "titanic". she was "unsinkable".

Re:-1, Pro-Nuclear Propaganda (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14425733)

The Titanic was "unsinkable" through rhetoric. Modern nuclear reactors have "no chance" of a meltdown or explosion due to physics.

People who wheel out "Won't somebody think of Chernobyl!" as though it's relevent to anything other than a discussion of 40 year old Soviet reactor design and an example of poor safety procuedures should have their flesh flailed from their bodies as an example to other stupids.

O well-named one... just south of here, (5, Informative)

leonbrooks (8043) | more than 8 years ago | (#14425621)

in Collie, Western Australia, Muja #1 plant burns 4 million tonnes of coal per year. Coal which is 3 parts per million Uranium. Simple arithmetic says that 12 tonnes of Uranium goes up the stack or into the ash every year. Muja has been operating for many years.

Tell me, O Zoltar, what would happen if a nuke plant mislaid 12 kilos of Uranium?

Yes, nuclear power plants suck. But they suck an awful lot less than any of the currently viable alternatives. If sticking in nukes now makes for a far-less-painful transition to solar or whatever in two decades, then I'm all for it. Even if it doesn't, I'm still all for it because of the coal, oil and gas plants (and mines, refineries, tailings dumps, transportation facilities etc) which won't get built because they weren't needed.

Re:O well-named one... just south of here, (2, Interesting)

Xenna (37238) | more than 8 years ago | (#14425652)

So are you saying we could just grind the waste up in very small particles and blow it into the atmosphere/ocean?

I remember the guy who was behind the Gaea hypothesis actually proposed dumping it in forests. Seriously...:

http://www.prototista.org/E-Zine/GaiaTheoryMotherE arth.htm [prototista.org]

The problem with losing 12 kilos, these days, is that it could be used to produce a dirty bomb.

X.

Re:-1, Pro-Nuclear Propaganda (1)

VVrath (542962) | more than 8 years ago | (#14425624)

Of course, mining coal for fuel and power never hurt anybody... [wikipedia.org]

Re:-1, Pro-Nuclear Propaganda (2, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14425625)

...even though nuclear power releases less radioactive material than burning coal.

If you've ever been near to a coal fire you'll know that it releases a LOT of radiation in the infra-red and visible light spectra. Scary but true.

For safety purposes, it's best to keep the room convection cooled and to wear dark glasses, to avoid the hazards of getting warm or being able to see.

This has been a public safety post.

Re:-1, Pro-Nuclear Propaganda (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14425668)

Just when you thought it was safe to get back in the Dihydrogen Monoxide...

In its "lit" state, coal can cause severe burning to the skin.

Under certain conditions coal can release invisible and explosive gases.

Inhalation of coal smoke can cause choking, asphyxiation, and death.

Despite claims of responsible practices by industry, coal has been found buried in the ground at sites across the country.

DHMO2: Coal, the black^WAfrican American killer.

Re:-1, Pro-Nuclear Propaganda (2, Interesting)

Cyberax (705495) | more than 8 years ago | (#14425638)

Well, I have relatives who live near Chernobyl's exclusion area. So I know a little more about the disaster, and it's not as bad as the press says. The actual number of casualities is 'only' 56 and estimated number of people with Chernobyl-related illnesses is about 5000.

That's bad. But not as bad as the number of lung cancers caused by soot from coal or oil powerplants.

Re:-1, Pro-Nuclear Propaganda (2, Informative)

KiloByte (825081) | more than 8 years ago | (#14425643)

And since when conventional power plants are safe? Even if you count just accidents alone, more people die per year in coal plants than the total death toll from Chernobyl.

Not to count the amount of pollution. This very article shows that radioactivity alone is a lot bigger when burning fossil fuels -- and then add all chemical-based emissions, which are none for nuclear power.

Nuclear power is like having a vial of concentrated poison in a closed bottle, fossil fuels are like taking a bucket of the same poison and spraying it thinly over a city. In the first case, the poison is more visible, that's all.

this is a longterm stop-gap (5, Interesting)

montyzooooma (853414) | more than 8 years ago | (#14425602)

Somebody realised that existing nuclear reactors account for 10-15% of production in Europe and they're pretty much all due to be decommissioned within the next 15 years or so. With solar and wind power still impractical and increasing oil supply a risky prospect what else was going to happen?

Re:this is a longterm stop-gap (4, Informative)

Mudcathi (584851) | more than 8 years ago | (#14425711)

France is set to generate 76% of its power needs through the nuclear option. Source: http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/pages/frontline/shows/reac tion/readings/french.html [pbs.org]

Re:this is a longterm stop-gap (5, Interesting)

Rickler (894262) | more than 8 years ago | (#14425749)

Thx for the link. It's amazing that over 90% of France's electricity is nuclear or hydro. Maybe it's because they didn't grow up learning about nuclear waste by watching Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles and The Simpsons.

The sad truth.
Part of their popularity comes from the fact that scientists and engineers have a much higher status in France than in America. Many high ranking civil servants and government officials trained as scientists and engineers (rather than lawyers, as in the United States), and, unlike in the U.S. where federal administrators are often looked down upon, these technocrats form a special elite. Many have graduated from a few elite schools such as the Ecole Polytechnic. According to Mandil, respect and trust in technocrats is widespread. "For a long time, in families, the good thing for a child to become was an engineer or a scientist, not a lawyer. We like our engineers and our scientists and we are confident in them."

Re:this is a longterm stop-gap (1)

Elektroschock (659467) | more than 8 years ago | (#14425714)

Oh, well. It will not happen in the next 15 years. Fact is that Nuclear power is not on the rise. And energy is well planned in Europe, we will not get accidential supply crisis.

The real question from my perspective is how to reduce demand or energy efficiency. Just imagine following TFT we get a kind of Plasma+ which burns 30% less energy.

Oil is more or less irrelevant for electric power supply but of course a substitute.

I further think that streams in the sea are an unexplored means to generate electric energy.

Solar energy? Why not expect the same as happened in the cell phone market? silicium technology offers great potential for cost reduction. 15 years are a long time.

And don't forget cold fusion, to be released just before duke Nukem forever.

Re:this is a longterm stop-gap (4, Insightful)

cliffski (65094) | more than 8 years ago | (#14425715)

energy efficiency. The amount of heat energy alone that we throw away is staggering. In winter time, most UK high street stores heat their shops and leave heir doors open 'invitingly' onto the street. Almost every business PC in the UK is left switched on overnight, over weekends, and even when the employee goes on holiday, ditto the monitors. Streetlights are dumb, and left on throughout the night even where nobody is to be seen for miles. Almost every consumer device you buy has a power-wasting standby mode, and wastes huge chunks of energy as heat and noise.
Like it or not, we throw most of our energy away needlessly. People make no effort to save energy, and the energy consumption is rarely a factpr is purchase deicisons for consumer devices. This needs to change, and the best way to do this is to shift more of the tax burden onto energy by means of a carbon tax.
Building nuclear power so we can keep on throwing energy away is madness. Lets do the sensible thing and clamp down more on our wastefull consumption of the stuff.

Europeans (3, Insightful)

liangzai (837960) | more than 8 years ago | (#14425607)

Everyone knows that nuclear power is clean. Europeans are concerned about two other things:

1. Disaster. Nuclear engineers say that the chance of a meltdown is very small, but this argument is worthless after Harrisburg and Chernobyl. People in general are mathematically clueless, but they do know that the risk is real and not small after these two events.

2. Waste storage. Where do we put the waste products after burning it? People are afraid it might pollute the environment, perhaps not now but for furure generations. It will have to be stored for thousands of years. Shooting it out in space is not an option to most, having pictures of an explosing Columbia in the mind.

Attitudes are changing now because people have to choose between a rock and a hard place, in the light of tough economic times and rising energy prices, and nuclear power is thus the pragmatic way to go. People will still be afraid of it, though.

get rid of waste (5, Interesting)

Hanzie (16075) | more than 8 years ago | (#14425646)

We could get rid of waste by burying it deep in oceanic subduction zones, where the plates are moving downward. A guided drop would cause a penetration of about 100 feet or so into silt, then it goes down a few more feet each year (mostly due to sediment buildup).

Recycling at it's finest. Nuke materials under miles of seawater + about 100 feet of mud, getting deeper all the time.

Just put it in a casing shaped like a torpedo, beefed up with an armor penetrating nose, and drive it to the sea floor. It'll be going fast when it hits, and it'll keep going down a long way.

Good luck digging that up again.

hanzie.

Re:Europeans (4, Interesting)

Nicolas MONNET (4727) | more than 8 years ago | (#14425654)

2. Waste storage. Where do we put the waste products after burning it?

The waste material isn't actually that much of a problem. It's dangerous stuff, and you can't really "dispose" of it, I.E. leave it somewhere and forget about it. You've gotta live with it. Hundred of thousands of tonnes. But actually, it's not that much. Almost all of France's waste for the past 40 years sits in a place the size of a large warehouse.

The real concern, IMO (I studied electrical engineering), is more with the irradiated powerstation components. Older plants are virtually impossible to dismantle; your only option is to basically bury them on site.

Re:Europeans (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14425720)

40 = 1 warehouse ....

if people thought the way you do, then what in a few thousand years? and how long do you have to store it untill its safe to dump somewhere? if hear it might take thousands of years to properly become disposable, untill then, each generation will add more and more to that 1 warehouse, untill it becomes a city, a county, a nation, a continate ...

in the end, untill you can dispose of the waste in a way that wont harm or burden future generations, then nuclear power just aint safe. What if civilization falls, and no one is left to maintain these waste dumps? many say nuclear power is safer, but i dont think radioactive waste is safer then some CO2, just wait a few thousand years and CO2 will go back to normal after people stop spiting more out, but radioactive waste seems like it will last a lot longer, and seems to actually be very deadly to people.

Re:Europeans (2, Insightful)

denominateur (194939) | more than 8 years ago | (#14425722)

The real concern, IMO (I studied electrical engineering), is more with the irradiated powerstation components. Older plants are virtually impossible to dismantle; your only option is to basically bury them on site.

That counts as "waste" in my view and is a huge problem.

Re:Europeans (4, Insightful)

JanneM (7445) | more than 8 years ago | (#14425658)

1. Disaster. Nuclear engineers say that the chance of a meltdown is very small, but this argument is worthless after Harrisburg and Chernobyl. People in general are mathematically clueless, but they do know that the risk is real and not small after these two events.

That was made a lot worse by proponents greatly overstating their case, effectively arguing that any accident is utterly theoretic and could never, ever happen in reality. When it did - two larger accidents, in Three-Mile Island and in Chernobyl, and numerous smaller incidents (like the Darwin Award winners in a Japanese plant that carted radioactive materials in ordinary buckets) - that effectively destroyed the credibility of the nuclear industry.

When people today say that 1. "Current reactor designs are a lot safer than the 30+ ones we use now"; and 2. "The risk is very, very small", people will say that 3. "You lied through your teeth to get us where you wanted the last time, and we bet you're doing the same this time around"

Re:Europeans (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14425708)

First, TMI was absolutely nothing compared to Chernobyl.

Second, Chernobyl was the result of a deliberate intent to push the system beyond its limits, and repeatedly ignoring the builtin safety systems.

Re:Europeans (4, Informative)

bm_luethke (253362) | more than 8 years ago | (#14425751)

Not to mention that those two disasters (3-mile and Chernobyl) are irrelevant in in many other ways.

Chernobyl was because they ignored repeated safety mechanisms while doing an experiment with intentionally making the reactor in a Bad State - even repeatedly turning the failsafes off (I don't recall the exact number, less than 10 more than 5). This was mainly due to failure of the different experts to communicate (not really thier fault - it was illegal for them to do so). The engineers who "caused" the disaster had no idea what was going to happen, had the nuclear engineers been there things would have most likely been different. In the free world I imagine those nuclear engineer would have done something fairly drastic to stop it. Nor would that type of expirement ever have been allowed, and that is especially true now (no nuclear engineer would allow it to happen).

Three-mile was a true accident of a nuclear reaactor. The reason it is irrelevant is that the danger was exxagerated. A great example of this was the fear about a possible explosion because of the reactor filling with hydrogen. Reporters reported what would happen if that amount of hydrogen were to ignite, pointed out that a simple spark can cause it too. However, there was no oxygen present - it was designed to work in that manner. No engineer was worried about it. Problems with cameras was also a big story, but yet again was greatly exagerated (most of the ones that were out were tertiary systems - the engineers and disaster crews was never in the dark about what went on in the reactor). But I suppose "We are gonna dieeeeeee!!!!" made better news than "It's being contained, working like it is supposed to, don't worry". Not that everything was perfect, but there was little real danger to surrounding people and the environment. Hell, I'd be more worried about some of the high energy physics experiments out there - at least they are pushing the envelope, nuclear reactors are a pretty mature technology.

It's not even so much that reactors are much safer now (true none the less), but that reactors were *never* as dangerous as public opnion has them. Only if multiple layers of failsafes along with intentional criticality (such as Chernobyl) is there any real danger from an accident. Plus we can recylce much of the waste produced now into other isotopes so that is slowly going away, even then it has less impact overall and easier to contain than coal.

Come on then, what about this waste storage issue (0)

Godwin O'Hitler (205945) | more than 8 years ago | (#14425684)

Disclosure: I'm not impartial about this because I earn thousands of euros translating documents concerning nuclear power and reprocessing, so nuclear power is good for me. The spin off is that I know a LOT about waste storage issues.

It seems to me people are too easily sidestepping the waste storage issue. I see plenty of discussion about waste products released into the atmosphere, but what about the stored waste.
You're all aware of it but I don't see anybody coming up with solutions. It is a concrete problem.

Re:Europeans (0)

cliffski (65094) | more than 8 years ago | (#14425686)

you forgot the security risk. you need armed guards at both the station and the waste disposal site. and the waste site needs to be guarded for generations. Thats damned expensive, and just 1 reason why the real cost of nuclear is way higher than solar, wind, tidal, goethermal, or good old energy conservation.

Re:Europeans (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14425691)

"Everyone knows that nuclear power is clean."

Actually no, it's not. Uranium mining is very bad for the enviroment - it totally contaminates the environment around the mining areas.

Re:Europeans (0, Flamebait)

terminal.dk (102718) | more than 8 years ago | (#14425693)

The effect of the meltdown is Chernobyl was a few dead employees and firefigthers. Just like any other factory/powerplant accident. There has been no increase in birth defects in the region, or other of the left wing FUD effects.

Compared to accident at any other plant, the only extra effect of chernobyl is, that an areas was evacuated, and can not be used for some years to come.

Waste storage is solved. Make holes deep into the ground, and dump it where it came from. In Denmark we have salt deposits that are very suited to this. Yet we have no nuclear power (apart from research reactors currently in the shutdown phase). We buy nuclear power from Sweden/Germany though. And Sweeden has been friendly enough to place a nuclear powerplant less than 5 miles from our capital, Copenhagen.

People are hysteric when it comes to nuclear power.

Re:Europeans (1)

Godwin O'Hitler (205945) | more than 8 years ago | (#14425713)

"dump it where it came from"

I believe it doesn't quite have the same set of properties when the time comes to put it back.

And as mentioned, that's the minor part of the waste. The major part is the power plant itself.

I'll repeat: I have a vested interest in Nuclear power continuing but I'm not going to deny there are issues.

Re:Europeans (1)

liangzai (837960) | more than 8 years ago | (#14425717)

The Danish government agreed to us constructing the Barsebäck plant. I have happily lived a mile away from it for a long time...

It is too late to change your mind now, unless you are prepared to pay the associated costs.

Re:Europeans (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14425726)

What has this got to do with "the left wing" ? I'm as leftie as they come, but all in favour of nuclear power. Destroying credibility for the win...

Re:Europeans (2, Insightful)

Solandri (704621) | more than 8 years ago | (#14425699)

1. Disaster. Nuclear engineers say that the chance of a meltdown is very small, but this argument is worthless after Harrisburg and Chernobyl. People in general are mathematically clueless, but they do know that the risk is real and not small after these two events.

It's interesting you'd bring up Harrisburg as support for your statement. Three Mile Island was a non-event. Despite the operators shutting off safety systems, ignorning warning signs, and basically doing everything they could do to screw things up, nothing happened. The reactor died, and the structure contained nearly all the dangerous material (there was a small release of slightly radioactive steam IIRC), as it was designed to do. TMI is a testament to how well the safety systems built into nuclear reactors worked despite the onslaught of human stupidity. Yes there was a lot of worrying about what might happen at the time. Engineers are like that - we like to err on the side of caution and think of worst case scenarios and plan around them. But most often (as in TMI) the worst case scenario never happens.

Citing Chernobyl as a reason against nuclear power is like citing the Hindenburg as a reason against aircraft. The technology is so outmoded the comparison is ludicrous.

The waste issue is the real problem. The safety issue is way overblown, just like people worry about dying in plane crashes and take a car instead (they're about 10x more likely to die in a car crash per distance traveled).

Re:Europeans (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14425725)

The true problem is that nuclear power is only clean at the plant. An insane about of low level waste is created to make the fuel rods, and a large number of people who have worked (strip) mining Uranium ores have developed chronic disease.

Re:Europeans (1)

Jeff DeMaagd (2015) | more than 8 years ago | (#14425738)

People in general are mathematically clueless, but they do know that the risk is real and not small after these two events.

The risk is real but relatively small. Of the 400+ nuclear power stations built, only one had a deadly catastrohpic mishap. Chernobyl was using a bad design that ended up as a positive feedback loop, and that design will not be used for future plants, nor did any Western countries use said flawed design. Three Mile Island really didn't release much radiation, I don't think there was even an increase of cancer for the area as a result.

Still, I would be cautious as well. I don't trust the US NRC because many times they really haven't been doing their jobs. Maybe the EU has better regulations, safeguards, inspections and such in place.

Re:Europeans (4, Informative)

po8 (187055) | more than 8 years ago | (#14425746)

The idea that nuclear waste might need to be protected "for thousands of years" has driven a lot of the debate. This is unfortunate, since it doesn't turn out to be particularly true.

One of the fundamental laws of radioactivity is that elements that are highly radioactive lose their radioactivity quickly, and elements whose radioactivity lingers a long time don't emit much radiation. The danger, of course, is those things that are in the middle along both axes. But as a point of comparison, it turns out that there is essentially no radiation left [rerf.or.jp] from the Hiroshima and Nagasaki bombs.

It is true that the concentrated fission products and neutron-activated junk from current fission reactors would still be pretty hot after 20 years, but I suspect they'd be way less dangerous to climb around in than a 20-year-old dioxin spill [greenpeace.org] . I think the evidence suggests that dumping the stuff deep-ocean in 50-year barrels would be a perfectly reasonable disposal method; it would be hard to convince the general public of that, though. Kind of sad, really—in many ways, nuclear power is our safest and most environmentally friendly energy alternative.

Re:Europeans (4, Insightful)

Renegade Lisp (315687) | more than 8 years ago | (#14425754)

Relying on nuclear power in the light of dwindling fossil fuel reserves is a very short-sighted approach. At the current rate of consumption, there is only enough Uranium on the planet for the next 50 years [wikipedia.org] -- somewhat more if you start using more expensive, lower-quality reserves. So the problem is really just shifted into the future by a very small number of years, compared to human history or the history of the planet as a whole.

At the same time, we have an energy source right in our vicinity which is, for all practical purposes, non-depletable and delivers several thousand times more energy [wikipedia.org] to our planet in every second than we are currently using. It would be the most logical thing to switch everything over to that energy source as quickly as possible -- since before long, we'll have to do that anyway.

Re:Europeans (2, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14425768)

Everyone knows that fossil power is clean. Europeans are concerned about two other things:

1. Disaster. Fossil engineers say that the chance of a chemical accident is very small, but this argument is worthless after Exxon Valdez in 1989 and the London explosion this year. People in general are mathematically clueless, but they do know that the risk is real and not small after these two events and hundreds of others in the past century.

2. Waste storage. Where do we put the waste products after burning it? People are afraid it might pollute the environment, perhaps not now but for furure generations. It will have to be pumped into the atmosphere, with carbon dioxide inducing global warming and soot particles (a lot of which are radioactive) causing millions of deaths around the world. Shooting it out in space is not an option to most, having pictures of an exploding Columbia in the mind.

Attitudes are changing now because people have to choose between a rock and a hard place, in the light of tough economic times and rising energy prices, and fossil power is thus the pragmatic way to go. People will still be afraid of it, though. Or are they?

Containing a catastrophic failure is the problem (3, Insightful)

Derling Whirvish (636322) | more than 8 years ago | (#14425608)

even though nuclear power releases less radioactive material than burning coal

Generally anyway, when things work as they are supposed to. But things happen. People worry about a catastrophic failure of a nuclear plant. A catastrophic failure of a coal-fired electric plant would result in minimal environmental damage and could be easily cleaned up. A catastrophic failure of a nuclear power plant on the other hand ...

Re:Containing a catastrophic failure is the proble (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14425619)

A WORKING coal-fired electric plant is catastrophic environmental damage and there is no way to clean it up. Still no one seems to care.

Re:Containing a catastrophic failure is the proble (1)

Solandri (704621) | more than 8 years ago | (#14425645)

I would wager that the total pollution output per megawatt of the world's coal plants in the last 30 years far exceeds the pollution output per megawatt of the world's nuclear plants in the same period even if you include Chernobyl.

You can't just look at the worst disasters. You have to look at the average pollution output over an extended period of time. Your argument is like saying planes are less safe because when one crashes a lot more people die than in a car crash. If you analyze it on a per passenger-km basis, planes are much safer than cars.

Dear Europe, (1)

FIT_Entry1 (468985) | more than 8 years ago | (#14425609)

Welcome to the 1970's.

Radio-activity. (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14425611)

Radio-activity is such a complex issue, that I dare say no single Slashdot poster can succinctly summarize the arguments for and against it. I would say not even a high-schooler is so ably equipped.

We would all do well to study postmodern teachings and examine our perception of nuclear power.

Re:Radio-activity. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14425659)

So, what are the arguments supporting radio-activity?

Re:Radio-activity. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14425675)

The waste run-off can be used to make an especially invigorating health-tonic which can be sold to corner stores across the nation.

Re:Radio-activity. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14425689)

No, no single Slashdot poster can summarize it, but I like to think that Slahshdot is some kind of cross between a complex system [wikipedia.org] and groupthink [wikipedia.org] . It all works out in the end. (Or maybe not.)

Re:Radio-activity. (1)

RobotRunAmok (595286) | more than 8 years ago | (#14425702)

Radio-activity is such a complex issue, that I dare say no single Slashdot poster can succinctly summarize the arguments for and against it.

We can, however, be reasonably certain that there is no hyphen in it.

That said, I think we can all agree that radioactivity, as in, "Oh, my God, Tompkins, the... the... Geiger Counter is off the scale! You're... we're... ALL... RADIOACTIVE!" is not a good thing, but nuclear power plants which create electricity are not quite so bad.

Is your thesis that if we build more nuclear power plants we will become radioactive? If so, I would love to subscribe to your newsletter.

GAS Alternatives (1)

Exter-C (310390) | more than 8 years ago | (#14425616)

Another issue that has re-sparked the debate, Many European countries rely on gas supplies for their energy requirements. Its not a massive % however with the recent russian/ukranian issues with gas supply it has highlighed the direct requirements for countries to have their supplies of energy.

Re:GAS Alternatives (1)

dunkelfalke (91624) | more than 8 years ago | (#14425664)

the issues between russia and ukraina shouldn't bother the rest of europe much. as we all could see ukraine cannot afford to shutdown the pipeline and also cannot afford to steal gas for longer than two days. and even if ukraine really tries to hinder gas distribution, there is still a pipeline throgh belarus which is leased by gasprom for 40+ years and soon there will be a pipeline under the baltic sea.

with all that and with the fact that europe imports only about 30% of its gas from russia it is a non-issue really for most of the european governments except of some minor and full of hot air politicians.

Re:GAS Alternatives (1)

Elektroschock (659467) | more than 8 years ago | (#14425764)

We can buy gas on the world market, no problem. The problem in Ukraine was that they did not pay the Russians. It was highly overstated. The answer to one pipeline problem is more pipelines, no real problem though. Even per ship you can get a whole lot of gas.

Ressource supply is irrelevant, although geostrategist still live in that world. Like our ancestors worried about food supply and starvation which might still be a problem in parts of the world which do not suffer under overproduction in agrobusiness.

What really counts today is control over code and standards. We are aware of the problem, others e.g. politicians are not.

Time to bite the bullet (2, Interesting)

99luftballon (838486) | more than 8 years ago | (#14425628)

I don't particularly want to see more reactors built but it is starting to look inevitable. But if we have to build them at least look at safer designs like pebble reactors [wired.com] which, unless anyone else on the board has more information, look like a better option.

Of course we could drastically reduce the power needs of the populace if we just saved more energy. Leaving computers on all night, and worse monitors, is shockingly wasteful and we need tax incentives to insulate the current housing stock and regulation on new building projects. I'm over in Finland a lot and they are the puppies packet at this sort of thing; the average modern home needs one or two wood stoves to meet most energy needs.

It's also important to remember that the major cost on nukes comes not in building the things, but in dismantling them and storing the waste - something that the pro-nuke lobby often forgets.

Re:Time to reduce consumption (2, Insightful)

TeXMaster (593524) | more than 8 years ago | (#14425690)

There is no way to safely and durably sustain the energy consumption rates of the so-called Western civilization. We can go by with it only because we really are a very small minority. If the whole world switched to the same lifestyle ... Really, it's all about consuming less, not producing more.

Re:Time to bite the bullet (1)

Timberwolf0122 (872207) | more than 8 years ago | (#14425700)

I just followed the link to the pebble reactor site, very impressive! I'm in favour of nuclear power as I think the hazzards of nuclear power are vastly over stated. Chernoble was an accident waiting to happen (who in their right mind turns off the safty systems!) yet it always sticks in peoples minds, I think the nuclear industry would do weel commissioning a series of frank adverts on TV stating the real risks and benifits of our glow-in-the-dark friend (Pebble reactors would put to be alot of fears).

They Aren't Alone (4, Insightful)

kid-noodle (669957) | more than 8 years ago | (#14425630)

The current British government also appears to be cautiously in favour of building a few more nuclear power stations to replace the ones due to be decommisioned in 2020 - the major barrier being that about half of the population is against them.
(We worry about things like the increasing amounts of radioactive waste in our dumps, possible indications of higher incidences of leukemia and cancer in areas like Sellafield, and risks of a serious accident.)

Re:They Aren't Alone (1)

16K Ram Pack (690082) | more than 8 years ago | (#14425673)

It appears that Sellafield's higher rate of leukemia is more related to the "new town" nature than having nuclear power plants, with a rural area suddenly growing and bringing in a town population. Towns like Corby also had higher rate of leukemia.

There's a Leukemia Research paper on this subjust at http://www.lrf.org.uk/images/leukclus_1090.pdf [lrf.org.uk]

Re:They Aren't Alone (2, Funny)

kid-noodle (669957) | more than 8 years ago | (#14425682)

Towns like Corby also had higher rate of leukemia.

Clearly the answer lies in the trouser press!

Re:They Aren't Alone (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14425681)

I always thought the Great Brittain was part of Europe.

Re:They Aren't Alone (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14425765)

Yes, but we're not part of France. Hence the "They" in the subject line as a reference to the French government.

Think about future generations (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14425637)

I think that this is a bad development. No matter how safe proponents say it is, many future generation have to deal with the waste of an energy form that we can just use for a short time (there is only enough low-cost uranium for fifty years, at the *present rate* of power use). Apart from that many regimes are not [american.edu] cautious [american.edu] , or even worse, use it for development of nuclear arms.

For those reasons, we should strive for disarming countries with nuclear weapons (including European countries, and the United States), and try to find better alternatives for nuclear energy.

In The Netherlands, where I live, wind energy could be very viable as an alternative. Oddly, building of windmills is blocked by environmental groups. And in other countries dams and solar energy may work (with enough development).

And yes, it would help a bit if we used less energy. So, buy a Soekris or VIA Epia board next time ;).

My predictions (-1, Offtopic)

Atario (673917) | more than 8 years ago | (#14425639)

This thread will be:

The usual 33% trolls/flamebaiters/incoherents
20% jokes about mutations/glowing green/etc.
17% entreaties to consider some other pet energy technology
11% actual discussion of the article
9% spelling corrections/grammar corrections/questioning of the article classification/general complaints about Slashdot
5% "nuclear energy is evil"/"we're all gonna die", posted non-ironically
2% comparison between energy industry and RIAA/MPAA/Microsoft/etc.
2% insults toward Europe or one of its constituent countries, plus indignant replies
1% genuinely insightful/interesting posts
0.005% meta-posts about what the thread will contain

(May not sum to 100% due to rounding)

Nuke power safety (2, Insightful)

theglassishalf (216497) | more than 8 years ago | (#14425657)

I used to be a big fan of nuclear power. But then I did some research.

1) It's not cost efficient, even when compared to wind.
2) It's dangerous [disinfo.com] . (That's a really good article, by the way. It should be required reading for anyone commenting on this Slashdot story.)

We really need to look toward alternatives (wind, solar-thermal, solar tower, wave, tidal, biomass...) if we intend to keep consuming power at current rates. (alternatives are also great for generating hydrogen, because the hydrogen can be a storage medium to account for the unreliability of sources like wind.)

-Daniel

Re:Nuke power safety (1)

Xenna (37238) | more than 8 years ago | (#14425692)

Realistically, how much of our current power can we expect to be able to get out of these PC alternatives of yours? That and the costs associated with them are important factors. The issue is preserving our way of life, which, unfortunately will require lots of energy. The prospect of running a world with 6 billion inhabitants on wind power seems a bit unrealistic to me.

IMO, we need nuclear fission energy to bridge the time we need to develope fusion. We can't afford to let society collapse in the meantime.

X.

Re:Nuke power safety (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14425748)

I read your article. You are a nutter.

Re:Nuke power safety (1)

RzUpAnmsCwrds (262647) | more than 8 years ago | (#14425769)

1) It's not cost efficient, even when compared to wind.
Wind and other renewables have recieved extensive subsidies that lower the price per kilowatt hour. Morover, wind is only cost effective at sites with semi-reliable medium-speed winds - and, as demand for wind power increases, the best available sites are used up and wind operators must use less coss-effective sites. Moreover, wind power sites are often not convenient to where power is needed - meaning greater losses in power transmission when compared to more mobile energy sources.

Nuclear power is similar in cost to coal power; this has been established from a 35+ year history of extensive production in the US. Nuclear provides more than 20% of our power already in the US, second only to coal.

2) It's dangerous. (That's a really good article, by the way. It should be required reading for anyone commenting on this Slashdot story.)

Dangerous compared to what? With all the "near misses" and accidents, nuclear power has resulted in fewer fatalities per kilowatt-hour [uic.com.au] than coal, hydro, or natural gas.

Describing nuclear power as dangerous is like describing air travel as dangerous - while accidents are absolutely possible and have certainly happened (and will likely continue to happen), serious accidents are infrequent enough in occurence that the technology, overall, is extremely safe. Nuclear power simply has not killed very many people in its 52-year history.

About the article (1, Interesting)

kvant (939634) | more than 8 years ago | (#14425662)

Am I the only one who wonders about... In which European country is it being built?
Or does the writers of this article presume that Europe is one single country.

It's in here Finland too they're building it.

Re:About the article (1)

alexhs (877055) | more than 8 years ago | (#14425767)

> In which European country is it being built?
> Or does the writers of this article presume that Europe is one single country.
>
> It's in here Finland too they're building it.


It's in fact in the article. The reactor they're talking about will be built in Finland ("EU nations stopped building nuclear plants for 15 years. But last yearFinland ended that streak by starting construction of a third-generation pressurized water reactor, designed by the French company Areva. It's to come on-line in 2009.")

But it is designed (and built) by a french company. I agree the Slashdot blurb is misleading ("a European nation" then "France is also")

About the title, I would just add that for France it isn't news, 75% to 80% of our energy comes from nuclear power plants. IIRC it's the world highest percentage, seconded by Japan.

The russians are partly to blame (4, Insightful)

lyberth (319170) | more than 8 years ago | (#14425663)

When the russians reduced the gas supply to Ukraine last week, many of the big european countries, that get the gas from rusia realised what a voulnerable situation they were in. many countries get a large part of thir gas from russia.
In the European union there is now a debate going on each country having to produce more of its own energy. also the need to form a Musketeer agreement to stand against potential energy-blackmailing or catastrophes. Nuclear power is for most of the larger European countries a very viable sollution. that will greatly reduce the dependency of other countries.

Re:The russians are partly to blame (1)

dunkelfalke (91624) | more than 8 years ago | (#14425678)

the dispute will be forgotten fast. russia is a reliable partner for the europe and ukraina cannot afford stealing european gas for long because of all of the support ukraina receives from europe.

And the winner is.. (2, Insightful)

ms1234 (211056) | more than 8 years ago | (#14425666)

Finland as the nation which is building the new reactor. Was heavily critized for it when the decision went through to start the construction work...

My two $ 0.02 (5, Insightful)

anzev (894391) | more than 8 years ago | (#14425671)

So, I live in Slovenia (I doubt any of you know where that is). But we have a nuclear plant. And it's been running for quite a while now. Because I've also studied physics I've found out, during some lectures, that the measurments taken around the nuclear plant show, that the grass around it recieves the exact same amount of the yearly dosage of radiation as something located far far away. Therefore, this energy is very clean, much cleaner than cole.

Right, so, then a disaster happens. Well, chances are very slim for a disaster. Today, we have a higher safety regulation for operating of nuclear power plants, and we are not competing on who gets to restart the turbines faster (check this [stanford.edu] ) without using safety measures.

Besides disaster possibility, the problem is also waste dispossal as a poster pointed out before me. Where to put it. You simply cannot dissolve the waste, or this is to expensive. And I don't think the problem with space dumping is the image of Columbia blowing up. Waste baskets can be made that whitstand such blasts. It's more of the awarness that we can't already pollute the space, since we fuc*** up mother Earth. And it's becoming an increasing security concern too with all the terrorists roaming around. Imagine a break-in into the waste storage facility. It's easy to make a dirty bomb [howstuffworks.com] . Breaking into the plant itself is much harder, although it's still a possibility.

In conclusion, I think we have to accept the risks of possible danger (we fly with airlens, but those also crash don't they?) if in turn, we get back a possibility for a cleaner environment. And until we develop things than can use all the free enegry [amasci.com] just lying around and as long as we use things that rely on our supply of power (computers among other things :-) ), we'll have to face it that we live in a world we created. Maybe we should build reactors underground, or in a separate nation somewhere in the middle of nowhere... It's all a possibility. Anything is better than coal.

Re:My two $ 0.02 (1)

Mudcathi (584851) | more than 8 years ago | (#14425741)

"In conclusion, I think we have to accept the risks of possible danger (we fly with airlens, but those also crash don't they?"

Well, yes they do, but when they crash, deaths are pretty much limited to the passengers, crew, and the unfortunate few in the crash zone, and the next day, the area is more or less safe.

When a nuclear plant "crashes", tens of thousands or more could die, and enormous tracts of land are affected for tens of years, if not hundreds.

Respectfully, your area has done a great job managing its nuke, but its still a big risk, with the potential consequences fantastically greater than a mere airplane crash -- my 2 cents is that the comparison with airline operations is poor. Even if it was an accurate comparison, here in the States our airlines go bankrupt every few years!

it's really not about the pollution (1)

l3v1 (787564) | more than 8 years ago | (#14425676)

I mean however some governments preach against pollution, just take a good look around the globe and try to honestly say something is made against it. While some minor things are done, globally there's nothing happening.

So, when talking about building new nuclear power stations in europe, one has to thing about two things as causes:
- cheaper energy,
- lesser dependency on russian gas (as recent russian-ukrainian developments have shown).

People of course are afraid of anything nuclear, and why shouldn't they ? There's no perfect station, there's no 100% guarantee a station won't fail, and there's absolutely not much space on this planet to store our nuclear waste, which will only be more and more.

I for one would more like to see space technology developed not towards space tourism, but towards expediting nuclear waste into space, be that into the Sun, towards some distant planet in our system, or else. I know this may sound harsh, but I'd say it's better to have it off planet than on planet, whichever place on earth that may eventually be.

Until we don't arrive to a point in technology and time where we will be able to use more efficient and less polluting energy sources, nuclear power plants seem to be the best compromise.

Of course, you also have to think about other issues, like e.g. if there will be too many nuclear plants, they will be nice targets for terrorists to crash their planes into.

Nuclear Fusion (2, Insightful)

Drysh (868378) | more than 8 years ago | (#14425704)

Damn... When will someone make a working Tokamak (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tokamak [wikipedia.org] )? Nuclear fusion is the future! Cheap, clean energy, from hidrogen plasma.

Re:Nuclear Fusion (1)

denominateur (194939) | more than 8 years ago | (#14425759)

Don't forget that if someone were to blow the tokamak building up (or worse, the tritium storage area) we would be in big trouble. Further, fusion reactors produce radioactive materials (from the tokamak mantle, vacuum chamber and blanket and other components) which are much more radioactive than anything a fission plant produces for a short time. The upside is that they can safely be disposed of after about 100 years rather than the thousands of years fission plants need for decommissioning.

In Federal United States (1)

mynickwastaken (690966) | more than 8 years ago | (#14425709)

Nucular Power Warms Europe.

Europe Warms to Nuclear Power--Iran's. (1)

haakondahl (893488) | more than 8 years ago | (#14425710)

Many Governments in Europe support Iran's allegedly peaceful nuclear program. It makes sense that they are warming to nuclear power. Of course, if they're not more fore-handed, they may do more than merely warm.

Is it really sensible? (0, Flamebait)

Roy-Svork (941051) | more than 8 years ago | (#14425731)

Personally I think reactors in britain could be invitation for terrorists! It's like building them a bomb in the right place that they need only come along and detonate... surely?

Re:Is it really sensible? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14425762)

Personally, I wouldn't mind if someone should happen to wipe Hartlepool off the map. I used to live only four miles away, but not any more...

nuclear power vs. burning coal (1)

Mugros (811343) | more than 8 years ago | (#14425750)

Well, yes, there is nuclear power and there is burning coal... and nothing else of course...

Headline double-take (1)

SuperKendall (25149) | more than 8 years ago | (#14425773)

I have to say the first time I read "Europe warms to nuclear power" I thought there had been a massive core meltdown somewhere!
Load More Comments
Slashdot Login

Need an Account?

Forgot your password?