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The Nuclear Power Renaissance

samzenpus posted more than 6 years ago | from the fire-breathing-lizards-soon-to-follow dept.

Power 927

Actual Reality writes "It is ironic to me that much of the same sentiment that thwarted the nuclear power industry back in the 80's is partially responsible for reviving it. Nuclear power is very clean compared to any power source that burns fuel. The US has missed several advancements in nuclear technology. We can only hope that environmental concerns will not again stifle our progress."

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Nuclear Power for Everyone (-1, Flamebait)

ackthpt (218170) | more than 6 years ago | (#21357381)

The road to total nuclear power:

  • Nationalise all the coal mines then shut them down. (Any which are still operating, by any rate.)
  • Slap a large carbon tax on import coal for power plants.
  • Power generators which run on natural gas or oil, slap a carbon tax on those, too.
  • Hydro, well the enviromentalists hate hydro because it interfers with the social lives of fish, such as the snail darter so bust the dams.
  • Enviros also hate those wind generators, which kill wild fowl with their big blades, knock 'em down.

The last battleground and current battle ground for decades, where to bury the waste from Nuclear Power. Nimbys are the log-jam there. Just find the place with the weakest resistance and bury it there. There's hardly anyone in North Dakota, so that state should be a push-over.

Don't anybody even suggest raising rates to reduce consumption, that's anti-progress!

Re:Nuclear Power for Everyone (1)

Joe The Dragon (967727) | more than 6 years ago | (#21357457)

natural gas is clean burning.

also a lot of coal is mined in the usa the train cars that go up to The Pleasant Prairie, WI power plant come right by me house.

Re:Nuclear Power for Everyone (2, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21357721)

> natural gas is clean burning.

Yeah, no CO2 output, and there's an infinite supply of it, thank goodness!

You forgot the first step... (1)

mrbluze (1034940) | more than 6 years ago | (#21357477)

  • Buy shares in Nuclear Energy Companies a week or two before you know this is definitely going to happen.

Not to suggest we break the law or anything, but the best way to make sure something happens is to make sure someone makes a ridiculous and unfair amount of money out of it, if it does happen.

As for burying waste, well the Pentagon or Whitehouse are probably secure enough to store the nuclear waste - full of bunkers.

Re:You forgot the first step... (1)

MiKM (752717) | more than 6 years ago | (#21357713)

You were probably joking about the White House and Pentagon. On the off chance you weren't, it's extremely easy to build bunkers that can safely contain nuclear waste. It's hard to build bunkers that can safely contain nuclear waste for a long time.

Re:Nuclear Power for Everyone (1)

d34thm0nk3y (653414) | more than 6 years ago | (#21357479)

The road to total nuclear power: * Nationalise all the coal mines then shut them down. (Any which are still operating, by any rate.) * Slap a large carbon tax on import coal for power plants. * Power generators which run on natural gas or oil, slap a carbon tax on those, too. * Hydro, well the enviromentalists hate hydro because it interfers with the social lives of fish, such as the snail darter so bust the dams. * Enviros also hate those wind generators, which kill wild fowl with their big blades, knock 'em down.

Somehow I don't think you are going to get very far with your pro-socialist anti environmentalist platform. That is one damn small union of sets!

Ban on re-processing (5, Interesting)

TheMeuge (645043) | more than 6 years ago | (#21357523)

Another concern is the current ban on re-processing in the U.S.

This leads to an increased amount of medium-half-life waste (not to mention waste of energy), which would be converted to much more radioactive short half-life waste by the re-processing. Such waste is more hazardous, but its disposal is less challenging because the necessary term of safe storage is greatly reduced.

I really don't see the big deal. We're ALREADY a nuclear power, and I sincerely doubt that our energy companies are going to be selling plutonium to the highest bidder.

Re:Ban on re-processing (1)

Duhavid (677874) | more than 6 years ago | (#21357839)

Surely you can see it...

"Hey, the third quarter numbers are going to come in a bit off".
"We could cook the books a bit"
"Na, Enron did that, we have cooked them as much as we can".
"Well, er ah, humm. Well, boss, you know that um, stuff we got"?
"No, er ah, yeah, stuff"... .
"Well, been meaning to tell you" "we are 'missing' some...".
"Yeah? How many doll How many pounds?"

Seriously, Enron, Worldcom, Tyco and a slew of other companies
pushing and crossing "the line" when the numbers are not what
Wall Street wants... That and German and French engineering
companies helping build bunkers in the middle east.

I agree that we should go nuclear, and we should attempt to extract
the maximal energy from it, but lets not be careless with the
results.

For all of me, I would say make capitalism work on this.
Rewards for finding problems with the plant.
Rewards for credible evidence of people trying to smuggle anything out.
Rewards for pointing out security issues.
Rewards for any other things I have overlooked that are important.

Environmentalists? Let them be inspectors ( after training and
background checks ) ( and only for the ones that are not
rabidly anti-nuclear ).

And build them as far from population as possible, and dont let
developers develop next to them after.

Re:Nuclear Power for Everyone (5, Interesting)

Dr. Spork (142693) | more than 6 years ago | (#21357565)

I'm one of the people who thinks we urgently need a gigantic program to build nuclear powerplants, and we need it yesterday - but neither I or anyone else I know thinks we should get rid of the other promising technologies. There are responsible ways to use hydro and wind power. Geothermal power is also worth exploring. But none of those can provide the power that we need.

And here's where I fit your caraciture: I do oppose raising energy rates and reducing consuption because it's anti-progressive, or as I prefer to say, regressive. Any extra burdens imposed on the cost of energy are going to disproportionately hurt the poor, and they've had it bad enough. Besides, it's totally unrealistic. Of course we should be doing more to insulate houses, and I strongly support government subsidies for doing that. But in a choice between reducing energy use and not reducing it while taking the risk of global climate catastrophe, Americans (maybe people in general) will choose the latter ten out of ten times. We can get mad about it or we can get realistic about it and provide them with the one clean source of power that we know how to develop on a large scale. Sucks that we'll probably have to bring in French engineers to do it right; we've really lost our technological lead in this industry!

Regarding the spent fuel, there is an obvious answer: Reprocessing. The most radioactive stuff that we bury now are the heavy metals which are actually fissile and could be used to produce more energy. The rest of the waste, if processed correctly, would be less radioactive in 30 years than the ore that was originally mined. So in the long run we'd be reducing the amount of radioactive stuff in the ground.

Re:Nuclear Power for Everyone (1)

teasea (11940) | more than 6 years ago | (#21357647)

Reprocessing. The most radioactive stuff that we bury now are the heavy metals which are actually fissile and could be used to produce more energy. The rest of the waste, if processed correctly, would be less radioactive in 30 years than the ore that was originally mined. So in the long run we'd be reducing the amount of radioactive stuff in the ground.

This is even better than my idea. I was going to see if the grandparent had room in his closet.
Kidding aside, can we really reprocess it to that low a level of radioactivity at a cost that won't encourage some, or many, to bypass the regulations?

Re:Nuclear Power for Everyone (1)

Cassius Corodes (1084513) | more than 6 years ago | (#21357715)

If we build more nuclear power plants we would have to raise energy rates - unless government is willing to pay the mammoth construction costs of nuclear power plants. Any completely private venture to build a nuclear power plant is uneconomical as it takes decades before you can return the cost of investment.

Re:Nuclear Power for Everyone (1)

k8to (9046) | more than 6 years ago | (#21357827)

Raising energy rates is potentially regressive, but it's really the right thing. Even with a fairytale of massive nuclear power buildout, the nuclear fuel supply is expected to peak (by the researchers of the industry) in the 2030-2050 window. Conservation will become necessary at some point, and starting earlier (through elevated costs of energy) will lessen the damage of the adjustment.

The regressive nature of higher energy costs may demand tweaks to "unevenly" distribute the cost, such as causing the expensive of power per capita or household to cost more the more you use. Or maybe it doesn't. How much of a household budget does energy costs consume in an efficient home? I don't really know.

Re:Nuclear Power for Everyone (1, Insightful)

vandan (151516) | more than 6 years ago | (#21357711)

Nationalise all the coal mines then shut them down. (Any which are still operating, by any rate.)

Great. But in the US, it'll never happen. But great so far.

Slap a large carbon tax on import coal for power plants.

Also great. But again, the US will never do it.

Power generators which run on natural gas or oil, slap a carbon tax on those, too

OOooo yeah baby!

Hydro, well the enviromentalists hate hydro because it interfers with the social lives of fish, such as the snail darter so bust the dams

There's no blanket rejection of hydro. In some cases, it makes a lot of sense. It's just that in others, it doesn't. There are forms of hydro that don't include dams on rivers. Wave generators, for example.

Enviros also hate those wind generators, which kill wild fowl with their big blades, knock 'em down.

Sorry, but I have to call bullshit on this one. Talk to ANY environmental activist, and they'll bring up wind power. I just went on the Walk Against Warming march in Sydney on the weekend ( 30,000 here, 30,000 in Melbourne, approx 150,000 Australia-wide ). The place was literally covered with windmill things on poles, and Greens banners. It was amazing. I think the only people who complain about wind are actually arsewipes from the big oil & nuclear industry, trying to throw a spanner in the works. NO serious environmentalist brings up the issues in your point.

The last battleground and current battle ground for decades, where to bury the waste from Nuclear Power

That's where it falls apart completely.

1) We don't have any technology that will last more than a couple of hundred years. Nuclear waste lasts for millions of years. We simply can't contain it.

2) Forgetting point 1 for a second, WHO exactly is responsible for the waste? A corporation like Enron? Do you realise that ALL corporations are like Enron, or at least similar enough not to matter? The waste will be around LONG after the corporations that profited from the mining and power conversion have closed up shop and left the country. This means that the responsibility will then fall back onto ordinary people. We'll have to pay taxes for MILLIONS of years to maintain the containment of waste which most people never benefited from, because they weren't around then. In particular, they weren't around then to MAKE THE DECISION, so why should they be responsible?

That pretty much sums up the problems with nuclear ( other than the weapons side, which I've addressed briefly in other posts ). Nuclear is all about short-term profits, and long-term irresponsibility. That's exactly how we got to where we are with CO2-based climate change. Do we really want to fuck ourselves and all future generations up the arse with nuclear waste as well? I really, really hope not, but there are a few very greedy people, and then there are lot of idiots who buy what they say ...

Re:Nuclear Power for Everyone (1)

DAldredge (2353) | more than 6 years ago | (#21357743)

Why do you have a computer?

If we switch to nuclear power... (0, Flamebait)

netsavior (627338) | more than 6 years ago | (#21357399)

does that mean that manbearpig will not come kill us? Or is the only way to stop global warming still to raise taxes?

We need to keep the Hommer Simpsons out of them... (1)

Joe The Dragon (967727) | more than 6 years ago | (#21357401)

We need to keep the Homer Simpson's out of them and Don't cheap out on safety like M.R. Burns plant.

Re:We need to keep the Hommer Simpsons out of them (1)

ackthpt (218170) | more than 6 years ago | (#21357451)

We need to keep the Homer Simpson's out of them and Don't cheap out on safety like M.R. Burns plant.

I can't recall, but didn't Godzilla oppose nuclear power? I know he didn't like nuclear weapons, as that's what woke him up.

The thing is (5, Insightful)

rastoboy29 (807168) | more than 6 years ago | (#21357407)

We KNOW that converting to nuclear energy would largely solve the global warming problem.  Have a nice gander people, the solution to this seemingly intractible problem is staring us in the face.

No, nuclear isn't perfect.  But in combination with electric cars, the CO2 problem is solved.

Then we just have to worry about the CO2 we've already put in there.

Re:The thing is (1)

QuantumG (50515) | more than 6 years ago | (#21357449)

Regardless of the validity of your first two lines, your final line is absolutely correct.

The only way to stop, and reverse global warming is mega-engineering and we, as a species, are just not capable of it.. yet.

Re:The thing is (0)

ShieldW0lf (601553) | more than 6 years ago | (#21357595)

That's not true.

http://www.nss.org/settlement/ssp/library/nsso.htm [nss.org]

Officially, it was considered a poor economic choice when plentiful cheaper alternatives existed.

But, really, the only reason we don't have space based solar power already is because it would devalue fuel and energy and destroy every power structure on earth that relies on it, and that's a tough sell politically. Capitalism relies on scarcity to keep everyone obedient.

Now it's being actively pursued by the Pentagon because of its tactical significance.

Re:The thing is (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21357651)

Capitalism relies on scarcity to keep everyone obedient.
Wow. That's the dumbest fucking thing I have heard in a long time, congratulations!

Re:The thing is (1)

QuantumG (50515) | more than 6 years ago | (#21357685)

How is that a reply to my post? At all? I said: regardless of how valid the argument for alternate energy sources may be as a means for reducing greenhouse gas emissions, it in no way helps in stopping and reversing global warming. Even if the whole world was to stop producing green house gases right now and for the next 100 years the earth would still continue to heat up at an alarming rate. None of these passive solutions can make this planet fit for human occupation 200 years from now (assuming no major changes in humans). We need mega-engineering to shape the global climate of this planet to meet our needs, otherwise we're soon to be extinct.

Re:The thing is (4, Interesting)

ShieldW0lf (601553) | more than 6 years ago | (#21357765)

You stated we are not capable of mega engineering. This is false. We are capable of scaling our energy collection out as far as we need with technology that is over 30 years old, and with that capacity, we can pursue whatever mega engineering projects we want.

Our biggest threats are population control and wasteful use of our non-renewable resources. There's lots of work to do and the means are right there waiting to be applied if we don't use everything up making rubber dog shit in the meantime.

Re:The thing is (1)

AdmiralLawman (1073516) | more than 6 years ago | (#21357761)

No. The main reasons why we don't have space solar power (yet) are as follows. A: The infrastructure to support launching all that mass into orbit (RLV's, ground facilites, etc) does not exist and will not exist for at least a decade. (or maybe if we are lucky 5 years) B: Even if we tried too launch them now they would be horrendously expensive and would most likely be beset with cost overruns and all those other nasty things socialism entails. :) C: They can't even compete with ground based solar energy now, so I doubt they could handle nukes or fossil fuel plants. Have a nice day. :P

Re:The thing is (1, Interesting)

jemenake (595948) | more than 6 years ago | (#21357773)

We KNOW that converting to nuclear energy would largely solve the global warming problem. Have a nice gander people, the solution to this seemingly intractible problem is staring us in the face.
I thought this too. However, in "Crude Awakening", there's a CalTech prof who asserts that, in order to provide all of the world's energy through nuclear, we'd have to build *TEN THOUSAND* of today's highest-capacity operating nuclear plant. Oh.. but that's not the real punchline. The great bit is that, if we actually did that, we'd run out of nuclear fuel in a couple of decades.

Now, I'll grant that I haven't actually checked those numbers... but hearing a CalTech physics prof say them certainly gets me to go so far as to stop asserting that nuclear is the perfect answer to these problems.

Re:The thing is (1)

ozmanjusri (601766) | more than 6 years ago | (#21357787)

But in combination with electric cars, the CO2 problem is solved.

Sadly, no.

Nuclear power, at least the way we can do it now, is way to expensive and resource-intensive to do much to reduce CO2.

Big, highly centralised power stations are expensive to construct (about 2 billion/reactor), expensive to maintain (average $126 million per reactor per year), have long construction lead times (10-12 years) and are expensive in fuel, particularly when waste disposal costs are factored in.

Mining and concentrating uranium is an energy intensive process, currently diesel fuel is used in most mines and adds about 30% of the amount of CO2 that coal power would have added. Expanding production of existing mines and bringing new mines on line for what is a relatively scarce mineral is not easy either.

When you consider that to keep up with projected demand, more than 2,000 new nuclear plants would need to be built in the next two decades, you'll begin to understand how inappropriate a technology it is to reduce CO2 production.

In fully economically deregulated environments, nuclear power simply can't compete with other clean technologies. It may be suitable for a limited set of circumstances, but it's not a final answer that deserves trillions of dollars of commitment. We need to keep looking.

Punctuation. (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21357411)

For fuck's sake, learn how to use a comma.

Re:Punctuation. (1)

Woy (606550) | more than 6 years ago | (#21357455)

Or at least don't you know use them.

Re:Punctuation. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21357465)

Thank you. I can't comprehend how anyone can make it past the 2nd grade (or equivalent) and still think that it's ok to put a comma there. I would love to read that person's brain and figure out the reasoning behind that comma.

Re:Punctuation. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21357557)

The comma is clearly a childish attempt to emphasize the flamebait portion.

bleh (1, Insightful)

User 956 (568564) | more than 6 years ago | (#21357425)

We can only hope that environmental concerns will not again, stifle our progress.

Environmental concerns as an "impediment" to changes in our oil-based economy is a red herring.

We don't use nuclear because it would put the oil barons out of business, not because it's dirty or unsafe. Most of France's power comes from nuclear, and they don't have any problems with it.

Re:bleh (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21357507)

France's power
And the Oscar for "Best Use of an Oxymoron" goes to...

Oil and Fission (largely) do not compete (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21357575)

Nuclear power and oil power largely do not compete - oil is used to power internal combustion engines; for the most part very few power plants run on oil; most run on either coal or natural gas.

You might have had an argument had you said "coal" barons, or "natural gas" barons. I'm not denying that there are some pretty fucking evil oil barons, but this is not their handiwork.

Re:bleh (5, Insightful)

m4cph1sto (1110711) | more than 6 years ago | (#21357689)

You gotta be kidding me. We don't use nuclear because it would hurt the oil industry? First off, there's a difference between oil, which runs our cars, and coal, which runs our power plants, which you don't seem to grasp. Second and more importantly, the real reason we don't have much nuclear power in the US is because for decades "environmentalists" have been waging a misguided war against nuclear power. These activists eroded public support for nuclear energy, and their lobbyists got our politicians to impose such stringent roadblocks and regulations that it became impossible for any company to even think about building in a new nuclear power plant in the US. Thanks to their ignorance and short-sightedness, these activists contributed in a major way to the problem of global warming, which they now say will be the doom of us all. And what makes it even more ironic is that the activists are still at it today. Sure nuclear is not perfect. But the safety issue was settled long ago. So the only downside is waste disposal, and the technology to process nuclear waste is advancing rapidly. And anyway, the stuff comes out of the ground, so we just have to put it back there, and make sure it stays there. All this talk about nuclear waste being a terrible hazard and environmental concern for the "next 10,000 years" is ridiculous. Some time in the next 500 years we'll figure out an even better way to handle, or use, nuclear waste, and it'll become a null issue (unless global warming kills us all by then of course).

Re:bleh (1)

pluther (647209) | more than 6 years ago | (#21357747)

Environmental concerns as an "impediment" to changes in our oil-based economy is a red herring.

You don't remember the 70's well, do you?

Environmentalists are very much the reason we don't have much nuclear power in the US. Half of the operating costs of a nuclear power plant used to be fighting lawsuits trying to shut it down, and protestors keeping their employees out. These protestors weren't oil barons. And they had good PR - not that it's hard, as most people even today can't understand the difference between nuclear power and nuclear weapons.

And there were some famous incidents (Three Mile Island, Chernobyl) that dramatically demonstrated the danger. Of course, nuclear power plants today are far safer, and no plant built in the US was ever as dangerous as Chernobyl, but most people don't know that.

We still have the problem of nuclear waste disposal, but it would eliminate a great deal of carbon emissions. Especially if we come up with electric cars. Stop government subsidies of oil, and start government subsidies of electric car battery exchange systems and we've got no more carbon problems.

Then we can start in on solving the problem of contaminated groundwater from leaky nuclear storage facilities...

Let us hope environmental concerns are *adressed* (1, Insightful)

sam_handelman (519767) | more than 6 years ago | (#21357427)

I'm in favor of nuclear power - as long as no-one tries to run it at profit.

  Trying to run the thing at a profit, even a hugely government subsidized profit, leads to cutting corners, which means that waste is not properly disposed of (which is by far the leading relevant concern) and that proper precautions are not taken to prevent sabotage or attack (which is still a concern with a modern nuke plant, even though meltdowns are not.)

I disagree. (5, Insightful)

iknownuttin (1099999) | more than 6 years ago | (#21357487)

I'm in favor of nuclear power - as long as no-one tries to run it at profit.

As opposed to someone who's working in the non-profit sector who will do anything to make his numbers?

Non-profit is just a tax status. Meaning, there's a restriction to what you can do with the profits: there's nothing restricting you from making as much money or as much profit as you want - you can get rich off of a non-profit.

My wife works for a non-profit and there's plenty of meetings where they are encouraged to cut costs. So, sorry, not making "evil" profits won't make the plant any safer. Neither will having it run by some Government bureaucrat. Do you really want the caliber of person that works at the department of motor vehicles running those plants?

Re:I disagree. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21357613)

Mod parent up, please. (Is that comma ok?)

Re:I disagree. (2, Insightful)

ScrewMaster (602015) | more than 6 years ago | (#21357639)

Remember what gave America the most reliable phone system on the planet for almost a century? That is, a heavily regulated private sector organization that lived under strict quality-of-service standards with severe penalties for failure. The problem with any such endeavor, as I see it, is that our government is probably too corruptible nowadays to reliably enforce such standards, and as far as the corporate world is concerned ... well. Heck, we can't even maintain the rest of our infrastructure properly anymore ... would we really be able to handle a network of atomic power plants? Don't misunderstand me: it's plain that we're not going to be able to keep the lights indefinitely if we don't make a move to nuclear, in a big way, and fairly soon. I'm just asking the question of whether or not we're truly up to the task of building the things and then running them with a reasonable degree of safety.

Re:Let us hope environmental concerns are *adresse (1)

merreborn (853723) | more than 6 years ago | (#21357577)

Trying to run the thing at a profit, even a hugely government subsidized profit, leads to cutting corners


That's already an issue in... just about every industry. The solution we use in the US is regulation overseen by bodies like the EPA and OSHA.

In fact, there's already a governmental body set up to regulate nuclear power generation: The NRC [wikipedia.org] .

Yes, for-profit businesses try to cut corners. As such, cutting corners has been made illegal (and is heavily monitored) in cases where it causes undue risk to public/employee/environmental safety.

Re:Let us hope environmental concerns are *adresse (2, Insightful)

MightyMartian (840721) | more than 6 years ago | (#21357655)

Trying to run the thing at a profit, even a hugely government subsidized profit, leads to cutting corners, which means that waste is not properly disposed of (which is by far the leading relevant concern) and that proper precautions are not taken to prevent sabotage or attack (which is still a concern with a modern nuke plant, even though meltdowns are not.)


How does having it government run not do the same thing? Chernobyl was government-run, and it's the worst reactor disaster in history.

I don't have a problem with private nuclear plants, providing the safeguards are in place, and that includes government inspectors with the independence and know-how to do it.

This Could Be a Good Thing (5, Insightful)

MOBE2001 (263700) | more than 6 years ago | (#21357441)

The US has missed several advancements in nuclear technology.

Well, this is good because it means that the US has the opportunity to move straight to the latest and safest state of the art nuclear power plant technology.

Re:This Could Be a Good Thing (1)

Boronx (228853) | more than 6 years ago | (#21357539)

I immediately thought of the miles of copper wire that China never laid. OTOH, the bulk of our experienced nuclear engineers are dying fast, so we need to hurry.

I happen to quite agree with TFA: (4, Insightful)

CaptainPatent (1087643) | more than 6 years ago | (#21357453)

When I try to explain the benefits of Nuclear power to some of my friends, many come back with the (rather cliché) horror stories of Three Mile Island and of course Chernobyl. What many don't know is the computational power to safely keep a reactor going was generally greater than what was available and the failsafes there were not entirely figured out or developed. We have had many years to develop the technology and as TFA points out:

among the 104 reactors currently online in the United States, none have had any disasters since the infamous Three Mile Island incident in 1979.
The technology has vastly improved, the safety measures are in place, it's time to go Nuclear.

Re:I happen to quite agree with TFA: (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21357605)

Don't forget how much of a disaster Three-Mile Island was. I mean all of those people who died from the radiation. Well, one person. Maybe.

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

Re:I happen to quite agree with TFA: (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21357719)

Is it really that safe? What do we really know about generating nuclear power? It just seems to me that throwing a bunch of decaying particles in a reactor will never be as safe as we think it is. TMI hasn't melted down in over 30 years, but it still has all the time in the world left to do so. Power can be made is so many ways, why not try for something less... potentially devastating.

Re:I happen to quite agree with TFA: (1)

MightyMartian (840721) | more than 6 years ago | (#21357815)

Is it really that safe? What do we really know about generating nuclear power?


A helluva lot, actually. It's not as if the technology was invented yesterday. The first man-made nuclear reactor, Chicago Pile-1 [wikipedia.org] was built in 1942.

Re:I happen to quite agree with TFA: (1)

afidel (530433) | more than 6 years ago | (#21357731)

More importantly one large coal burner with 1/10th the capacity of any of the generators at TMI gives off significantly more radioactivity to the environment every year then the single worst accident in US history. Even the cofounder of Greenpeace has admitted [washingtonpost.com] he was wrong about nuclear power. Plus today we have designs that are literally many of orders of magnitude more safe then even the very safe LWR.

Re:I happen to quite agree with TFA: (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21357795)

I agree and would like to add that no one even died in the 3 mile island incident. Talk about blown out of proportion: "infamous Three Mile Island incident". What a bunch of FUD. Meanwhile in the oil industry, millions of fish, birds, other wildlife including people die each year. A couple spills just happened here in the US and in Europe.

Remember Chernobyl (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21357471)

Oh wait, most of you don't think it was that bad.

I guess nuclear radiation isn't a big deal when you don't leave your house.

Re:Remember Chernobyl (2, Insightful)

physicsboy500 (645835) | more than 6 years ago | (#21357643)

Troll much?

The point of TFA is that Nuclear power has vastly improved since those days. Additionally Chernobyl was a product of a bad set of safety procedures and fail safes. an entire account of what happened that day can be found on Wikipedia [wikipedia.org] which is as follows:

The workers were performing an experiment with the reactor's safety systems. Problems occurred during the tests, the reactor did not receive enough coolant, had built up too much heat in the core and had fully withdrawn control rods, all of which contributed to a very unstable and unpredictable reactor operation. When the control rods were reinserted in an attempt to regain control of the unstable reactor, there was a sudden increase in reactivity, caused by the design of the RBMK reactor and its control rods, and an uncontrollable runaway reaction occurred. The reactor produced tremendous amounts of steam, eventually causing a steam break/explosion, which destroyed part of the reactor. Graphite fires broke out, due to the high temperatures of the reactor and that the graphite was exposed to oxygen, causing it to burn, which occurred after the reactor was damaged from the steam explosion.
While it's true Nuclear has been overlooked and underdeveloped for the last couple of decades in the US, we are to the point where it would be highly (if not completely) unlikely that a disaster of even a fraction that size would occur.

TFA points out there hasn't been a Nuclear disaster on US soil since 1979's Three Mile Island and while yes, it could theoretically happen, We've also gained much knowledge to either stop or prevent such a disaster

Yes there were failures in the past... bad failures, but with that comes the knowledge to fix the problem.

Not until there's a permanent solution for waste (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21357481)

While I have no technical expertise, I do believe it's theoretically possible to run safe fission reactors. But we shouldn't even consider building any until we have a *completed* (very) long-term storage/disposal solution for nuclear waste. Deferring it to the next generation is not OK.

Cost (5, Informative)

Graham Clark (11925) | more than 6 years ago | (#21357493)

I don't know in detail about the US situation, but in the UK what killed nuclear power was not environmental concerns but the cost. When the government privatised the nuclear power stations they had to finally admit what had until then been denied - that it was the most expensive form of generation then in widespread use. It's possible this has changed, but the dearth of new builds despite apparent government sympathy leads me to believe that it probably hasn't.

Re:Cost (5, Informative)

merreborn (853723) | more than 6 years ago | (#21357659)

it was the most expensive form of generation then in widespread use


According to CBS/60 minutes [cbsnews.com] :

Because nuclear plants emit no greenhouse gases, France has the cleanest air in the industrialized world, and because the price of oil is now around $60 a barrel, it has the lowest electric bills in Europe. In fact, France has so much cheap electricity, it exports it to its European neighbors. French nuclear plants supply power to parts of Germany, Italy and help light the city of London.
...So, the UK is importing nuclear power from France. I think that's a pretty clear indicator that nuclear power is currently fairly competitively priced.

Re:Cost (1)

AJWM (19027) | more than 6 years ago | (#21357679)

Most of that cost is government imposed -- studies, permits, permits for studies, impact statments, reviews, more reviews, more permits, protests, counterprotests, hearings, more studies, etc.

Not saying that none of that is necessary, but it could certainly be streamlined. Cost of money being what it is, that process is too lengthy and too risky (financial risk of not knowing just when it will all get approved, and whether it will stay approved.)

Re:Cost (1)

afidel (530433) | more than 6 years ago | (#21357753)

Only if you fail to include the externalities of environmental damage, even if you discount global warming the particulate, chemical and nuclear waste streaming out of coal plants is obviously more damaging to the environment then a correctly designed and operated nuclear plant.

Re:Cost (1)

Average_Joe_Sixpack (534373) | more than 6 years ago | (#21357771)

Basically a cost disadvantage compared to the glut of North Sea oil and natural gas production which ramped up in the 80s. Now that those fields are in decline nuclear is coming back into fashion.

you CAN go nuclear (1)

theheadlessrabbit (1022587) | more than 6 years ago | (#21357501)

your going to turn this 'can' into 'CANDU' .....excellent....

Always waiting till Fusion (2, Interesting)

usul294 (1163169) | more than 6 years ago | (#21357527)

Fusion seems like it will always be the energy of the future. In the meantime, fission seems like a reasonable solution. There's been many of saftey advances in the past 30 years, and American saftey standards are high enough to prevent something like Chernobyl from happening in this country. (Overheating a 35-year old reactor without saftey features on) A former nuclear engineer who is now my supervisor once told me: "More people have died in of Ted Kennedy's car than have died from American nuclear reactors. The main problem is, many environmental activists oppose fission power, but also want to clean up greenhouse gases. My position is go with nuclear power, use it to generate electricity, then make electric cars, or cars that run off of hydrogen produced from nuclear reactors. We can then all say goodbye to at least 90% of American CO2 emissions.

Troll news? (5, Insightful)

Vthornheart (745224) | more than 6 years ago | (#21357533)

While I agree it's interesting that *some* environmentalists are rallying around Nuclear power, I think we need to make a few things clear that the poster of this news article seems to have missed.

1) Most environmentalists supporting the Nuclear option do so only because it is the lesser of two evils, the latter of which (Global Warming) was not known of or understood back when the Nuclear Power protests were going on. This isn't ironic, it's evolutionary. It's the scientific process at its finest: new data comes in, and those looking out for the best interests of everyone reevaluate their previous conclusions based on that new data. The two are NOT mutually exclusive.

2) The "We can only hope that environmental concerns will not again, stifle our progress," is a bit more blatent of an example of flamebaiting. The reason that environmental concerns occasionally "stifle our progress" is because it would be foolish for anyone NOT to think of environmental concerns. Would the poster of this article rather that environmental concerns never be taken into account in the case of new technology? It would be like a scientist intentionally ignoring a key variable in a study. You wouldn't tell a clinical group performing studies on a new (for example) vaccine to ignore if the vaccine causes heart attacks just because said vaccine is supposed to cure cancer.

Re:Troll news? (2, Insightful)

I'm New Around Here (1154723) | more than 6 years ago | (#21357739)

My response to your second point has always been that the environmentalists who fought every nuclear power plant since the 70s did do the wrong thing. And now global warming concerns are coming back to bite them. What the environmental activists should have done is pick the guys from their groups who do understand nuclear power, and power production, and business models, and insisted these guys get put in charge of safety and operations at a new plant.

This would ensure that the plans are the safest design available, and that the standard operating procedures (SOP) are also safe and, more importantly, adhered to. Imagine if the chief of operations cared about the environment, and had the authority to shut the plant down immediately with no reprisals. We would have clean, safe power for millions of electric vehicles now, rather than the mess we are in.

Re:Troll news? (1)

schwaang (667808) | more than 6 years ago | (#21357775)

Agree on both points.

Oh, and I don't think we have to regret missing out on progress like Monju [wikipedia.org] , whose reactor technology AND the supposedly trustworthy approach of Japanese regulation both were hailed by the likes of Richard Rhodes (in Nuclear Renewal: Common Sense About Energy [amazon.com] , 1993) as the salvation of nuclear power. Two years after his book came out, both Monju and Japan's regulatory agency failed spectactularly. I'm juuuust fine with missing out on that kind of progress.

Hah ... (1)

ScrewMaster (602015) | more than 6 years ago | (#21357535)

We can only hope that environmental concerns will not again, stifle our progress.

We can only hope that a bunch of ignorant, loud-mouthed assholes won't stifle our progress. That same level of idiocy is still present in large measure in our population, of course. The difference is that today we are much more aware of the limitations and liabilities of our existing power generation technology than we were forty-odd years ago. People are starting to understand that burning coal and oil for power is not a benign activity, and that, while nuclear power has risks so does what we're doing now.

Hopefully the fear of living in the dark without blow driers will help more people see reason ... I know California's power problems of a few years ago made a lot of folks I know very nervous (even though that was yet another manufactured crisis and not due to any lack of capacity.) We don't have a lot of ways to generate the kind of power a high-technology civilization requires, we really don't. We can continue to invest in the R&D (fusion perhaps, and other alternate energy sources) but if we want to keep the lights on we'd better start taking the proper steps now.

Still, to be fair, the anti-nuke crowd may have actually done us a favor, by forcing us to hold off on any significant investment in atomic energy. This time around, we'll have the advantage of nearly half a century's worth of development in nuclear technology. That's a very good thing.

Nah, fuck off (0, Troll)

vandan (151516) | more than 6 years ago | (#21357541)

We don't need nuclear. Nuclear is the dirtiest of all known fuel sources, NOT the cleanest. The waste remains deadly for hundreds of thousands of years.

The simple truth is that we don't need nuclear, much the same as we don't need fossil fuels. Using totally clean, renewable resources is well within our technological reach.

The problem is with renewable technology is that it takes the market away from the current big players. The oil, coil, and nuclear industry are all based on the same basic process:

- bribe the government so they let you mine the resources you want
- claim the resource as your own, as if you have some sort of actual legitimate right to it
- convert the resource into power
- dump the waste without any thought as to the consequences

A switch to renewable energy undermines this model completely, as the resource is coming at us from the sun, and it's quite distributed in nature. That means that it favors distributed capture and conversion into usable energy. For the big energy companies, this is simply not on.

What's more, renewable energies scale up and down extremely well. This means that instead of requiring massive capital investment to get a huge power plant working, a local community can install solar, wind, etc generators, and bring them online as required. For the big energy companies, this is REALLY not on. And they'll fight with everything they've got to make sure it doesn't happen.

Right now, the battle is in convincing people that renewables are a viable solution. The energy industry would have us believe that this solution doesn't exist, and that we have to keep burning fossil fuels, and then switch to nuclear. BULLSHIT! We need to invest seriously in renewables, and leave the toxic fossil fuel and nuclear energy and weapons industry in the past.

This brings me to the final point: that nuclear energy == nuclear weapons. In most nuclear countries, the US included, there is NO separation between the so-called civilian and military nuclear fuel cycle. While we have nuclear energy, we'll have nuclear weapons. While we have both these abominations, we'll have nuclear waste, accidents, horrific damage to the environment, and possibly a world-wide nuclear catastrophe. It doesn't take much to cover the world in radioactive dust. And what do we do then?

You fuck off dumbass (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21357587)

Morons like you killed the nuke industry. Morons like you, but with a different fetish, are trying to kill the hydro, wind, solar, etc. Each have their own little pet peeves and they whine and march and protest. I say we collect all you mother fuckers and burn you bodies for fuel. Won't last long but it sure would be enjoyable.

Re:You fuck off dumbass (1)

vandan (151516) | more than 6 years ago | (#21357791)

OOOoooo great argument, AC. Right up there with the literary best.

Re:Nah, fuck off (3, Insightful)

ShakaUVM (157947) | more than 6 years ago | (#21357653)

he waste remains deadly for hundreds of thousands of years.

Guess how radioactive something is with a half-life of 100,000 years? Answer: Not very.

I'd really wish there was like a prerequisite of high school physics before people were allowed to start talking about the energy issue in America.

Re:Nah, fuck off (0, Flamebait)

vandan (151516) | more than 6 years ago | (#21357749)

Guess how radioactive something is with a half-life of 100,000 years? Answer: Not very.

Bullshit. Why the need for containment then? Why don't you make products out of it, and sell it to fucking idiots such as yourself? Oh, so it's too radioactive for YOU to go anywhere near, but you can dump it somewhere else and it will be OK?

I'd really wish there was like a prerequisite of high school physics before people were allowed to start talking about the energy issue in America.

1) I'm not a fucking Yank
2) I've studied high school physics, and did quite well too
3) Perhaps YOU should study some physics

Re:Nah, fuck off (1)

yoyoq (1056216) | more than 6 years ago | (#21357781)

whats your point? if something is dangerously radioactive now, it will be half as much in 50,000 years. Probably still dangerous. you can keep it in your backyard.

Re:Nah, fuck off (1)

MightyMartian (840721) | more than 6 years ago | (#21357727)

Renewable energy simply is not, in the short-term, going to deliver enough bang for the buck. Beyond that, no one wants wind farms in their back yard, and are vast arrays of solar panels really the best land utilization method out there? Tidal generators would have to be huge to generate useful amounts of power, and everyone hates hydroelectric dams nowadays.

As to weapons, I think a place to start would be for you to learn something about nuclear power. Lemme guess, you or your parents were among those bunch of know-it-alls who were in fact completely ignorant of different kinds of nuclear reactors, but never let stupidity and a lack of knowledge get in the way of being self-important liars.

Re:Nah, fuck off (1)

vandan (151516) | more than 6 years ago | (#21357847)

Renewable energy simply is not, in the short-term, going to deliver enough bang for the buck

Sure it is. That's just the big energy companies whining to protect their monopoly.

Beyond that, no one wants wind farms in their back yard

Sure they do. See my other post ( top of page ) on this. Again, it's only idiots from the energy industry that push this bullshit. All environmentalists have LONG been arguing for wind power, particularly here in Australia ( see also my post on Walk Against Warming ).

Lemme guess, you or your parents were among those bunch of know-it-alls who were in fact completely ignorant of different kinds of nuclear reactors, but never let stupidity and a lack of knowledge get in the way of being self-important liars.

Well, you 'guessed' completely wrong. I don't think this part of your post was at all serious, so I'm not going to bother responding, other than to say that you're WAY off.

Re:Nah, fuck off (1)

sqrt(2) (786011) | more than 6 years ago | (#21357777)

Your comment about nuclear power being inseparable from nuclear weapons is patently false. The fuel cycle for power production does not result in weapons grade material, they are entirely different processes. It is possible to create special plants that do produce material that can then be turned into weapons, but this requires deliberate intent to do so. It can't just happen by accident or as a result of normal power production. We also need nuclear weapons for our own safety. Unless you think you can convince every other country to give up theirs too. I'd love to live in a world where we didn't need them, but that's not an option currently, and if you tried to do it anyway as I suspect you would if it were up to you, you wouldn't be living in this world for very long at all.

The waste products generated by the types of reactors we use now would be reduced with newer reactor designs and we have the capacity to store the waste safely for a very long time, long enough to out last the United States I'm sure. The gap created by the loss of such a monolithic source of power as fossil fuels cannot be filled by renewables alone, not currently. Wind, solar, and hydro need to be part of our more diverse energy sources for the future but they cannot be the only sources. We need the immense yields of safe, modern, nuclear power to carry the majority of the weight. Our country is increasing its energy consumption every year and it will only keep increasing.

Re:Nah, fuck off (1)

afidel (530433) | more than 6 years ago | (#21357841)

By definition if the waste is around for hundreds of thousands of years it's very low energy and thus not much of a problem. Sure uranium is toxic, but so are tons of other industrial inputs and byproducts. Heck we release literally TONS of uranium into the atmosphere every year by burning coal, I for one would much rather my nuclear material be in a glass block under a mountain than be inhaled into my lungs.

Dirtiest? Bullshit. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21357859)

I'll take a small amount of horrible radioactive material buried underground in the middle of nowhere, rather than the insane amount of crap that gets pumped into the atmosphere daily by coal plants.

Sure, there are things far more cleaner than nuclear - solar, wind.. Oh - wait, are you taking into account the industrial waste used to produce solar panels/etc?

Nuclear, for all intents and purposes, is goddamned clean.

Clean nuclear waste (0, Troll)

iamstan (110049) | more than 6 years ago | (#21357543)

"Nuclear power is very clean..."

Only if you ignore the waste products. If you think spent nuclear fuel is clean, why not make useful consumer goods out of it?

Re:Clean nuclear waste (3, Insightful)

Dr. Spork (142693) | more than 6 years ago | (#21357621)

If you think spent nuclear fuel is clean, why not make useful consumer goods out of it?
Umm... we do. Don't you have a smoke detector?

Re:Clean nuclear waste (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21357863)

Awwww Snap! I did not know that [wikipedia.org]

Re:Clean nuclear waste (1)

huha (755976) | more than 6 years ago | (#21357855)

Actually, quite some uses [wikipedia.org] have been found for nuclear fuel by-products.
No one says spent nuclear fuel is clean, but its very low quantity helps to reduce problems. Depending on reactor design, nuclear waste can be reduced to comparatively low amounts with long-lived isotopes, thus reducing the danger when being exposed to such materials.
There have been some advanced designs for breeder reactors, but cost and diminishing interest in nuclear power generation has so far prohibited their widespread use.
Nuclear waste is not automatically a green-glowing, instantly death-bringing mass of incredibly toxic material. It can often be reprocessed (recycled, if you will) and contained in long-lived storage spaces without any danger to the public.

I'm not saying nuclear waste is inherently harmless, but please do note that other forms of electricity generation produce a severely more direct and short- to mid-term impact on the environment: Mining coal destroys whole ecosystems, sinking oil tankers lead to severe problems (and are much more common than nuclear accidents!) and even enviromnentalists' beloved photo-voltaic energy requires manufacture of silicon wafers, which needs large amounts of toxic chemicals and does produce waste. Nuclear waste, by and large, just sits there giving off more or less heat and radiation, but usually is contained where no living organism can enter effortlessly.

Re:Clean nuclear waste (2, Informative)

sqrt(2) (786011) | more than 6 years ago | (#21357861)

Clean in this case means that if stored properly, the actual "dirty" parts never comes into contact with the environment in such a way that would cause any harm or measurable effect. If it were standard operating procedure to just vent the radioactive waste into the air then you could call it dirty. And that's exactly what coal fired plants do, btw [wikipedia.org] .

Nuclear madness in Finland (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21357545)

The Greenpeace info site on the nuclear reactor now under construction in Olkiluoto, Finland:

http://www.olkiluoto.info/en/ [olkiluoto.info]

Plenty of scandals.

Nuclear in Australia (2, Interesting)

Blackheim (661904) | more than 6 years ago | (#21357551)

I cannot understand why people are so against Nuclear. In Australia we are still burning coal / natural gas for our power. Yes there are a few hydro / tidal plants (but what they do to the enviroment is not much better). We need a transition power source.. "Clean Coal" et al are a short stop gap solution. What am I missing here but, why not get a few Nuclear Power stations, as a longer transitional power source until we can find a better power source, Perhaps cover the desert with solar?

Re:Nuclear in Australia (1)

bensafrickingenius (828123) | more than 6 years ago | (#21357823)

How long before it's discovered that robbing the desert of all that solar energy has disastrous effects on Australia's geology/climate/culture/wildlife/etc.?

carbon problem (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21357559)

i was under the impression tha when you included all the necessary mining of uranium ect nuclear power emits arond 75% of the carbon of normal power?

Amazing (5, Insightful)

ShakaUVM (157947) | more than 6 years ago | (#21357583)

Amazing -- every time I make this point on Slashdot, I get a swarm of deluded people flaming me. Now that there's an article on it, maybe people will begin to see that if they're really serious about things like Global Warming, switching from Coal to Nuclear power would be the only cost-efficient way to do it. All other sources of non-emitting power cost about ~3x as much per kilowatt. According to the DOE (http://www.eia.doe.gov/cneaf/electricity/page/co2_report/co2emiss.pdf) 40% of all CO2 generated in America is produced from electricity generation.

The stupid, stupid environmental prejudice against nuclear power has come back to bite us all on the ass. If we had all nuclear power plants now instead of majority coal plants, we'd have eliminated almost half the CO2 production from our country which is MUCH MUCH more than reductions mandated by agreements like the Kyoto protocols, which specify either minimal cuts (8% for Europe) or capping increases (Australia can go up by 8%).

If you're an environmentalist, you should be for nuclear power. Either shit or get off the pot -- if you just talk about "climate change" and then live in some sordid China Syndrome fear of nuclear power, you're not just an idiot, you're a hypocrite. If you're not an environmentalist, you should also be for nuclear power, since it's cheaper than all the alternative energy sources being pursued right now, and everyone likes low power costs.

TANSTAAFL (2, Interesting)

davidwr (791652) | more than 6 years ago | (#21357615)

Most large-scale power plants have some bad impact on the environment.

Burning carbon - air pollution
Wind farms - dead birds
Hydroelectric - dams and all that this implies
Nuclear - nuclear waste disposal

Solar and other relatively-little-used technologies may have a better footprint but they are still too expensive to be cost-effective in a large scale.

Until we get something cheap with a light footprint, it's a game of "pick your poison."

Nuclear power is not clean... (0, Redundant)

dtjohnson (102237) | more than 6 years ago | (#21357619)

Nuclear power is very clean compared to any power source that burns fuel.

Nuclear power is definitely not 'clean.' 'Nuclear Power' means nuclear [blogspot.com]
fission which produces all sorts of 'dirty' extremely toxic fission
byproducts [wikipedia.org]
such as radioactive isotopes of cobalt, cesium, strontium, tin,
iodine, etc. which persist in the environment and require enormous
expenditures of money just to contain so that they don't contaminate
the air, water, and soil that we use.

Re:Nuclear power is not clean... (1)

geekoid (135745) | more than 6 years ago | (#21357857)

It's cleaner then coal.
We can store the waste. This is not a science problem, it is a political. There are many places that could store it safely.
And the expenditure is not 'enormous' compared to other practical energy source.

The problem is one of ignorance and politics.

Disposal? (1)

FranTaylor (164577) | more than 6 years ago | (#21357631)

Noone has mentioned anything about what to do with the waste. This is the sticking point as far as I'm concerned. I have no doubt that we can make safe nuclear power plants. But there are waste products that must be safely stored for a very long time and we don't seem to have any good answers for that. We can't even effectively store the waste we have now, it's leaking into the Columbia River. Yucca Mountain does not appear to be the safe place that some have hoped it would be.

Re:Disposal? (2, Insightful)

geekoid (135745) | more than 6 years ago | (#21357783)

Couple of points:

1) Most nuclear wastes isn't even radioactive. This would be equipment used around a plant.

2) The DoE was working on an IFR; which used sodium. The IFR could take nuclear waste, use it. The resulting half life was about 4-500 years. Not to bad, really.

3) Yucca mountain safety is only in question because ignorant people turned it into a political issue inseat of a science issue; whixch is what it should be.

4) What Nuclear waste is flowing into the columbia?

5) It is a lot cleaner then coal.

6) We could make it into glass brick and dump it into the trench. (Radiation isn't contagious the way most people say it is.

7) It's disposal really isn't that difficult, there are several good choices that could hold it securly for 1000s of years, but as soon as the ill informed public hears 'nuclear' they think radiation is coming though their wires.(In one person I saw interview, they literally believed that.)

8) exactly 0 people died from three mile island, however because people wouldn't let them restart the other reactors, approx. 50 people have dies from the pollution from the coal plants they now use.

9) Look at some of the newer French designs, they are awesome. Some of the stuff Japan has on the drawing board is incredible.

10) Chicago is about 90% nuclear, there cost per kilowatt is about a nickel.

When a coal plant opens up, I always remember to thank an anti-nuclear environmentalist.

We need it for the electric car (1)

CrazyJim1 (809850) | more than 6 years ago | (#21357637)

We need Solar and Nuclear en mass to supply the electric/hydrogen for the next fuel source. At least that's how I see it. Here's my shot in the dark which I could be totally wrong:Disposing of Nuclear waste should be easy. Just put it back where you got it. I mean there has to be a lot of uninhabited areas to dump waste. After all, the earth supplied it to begin with.

Is fission not considered "burning fuel"? (5, Interesting)

Medievalist (16032) | more than 6 years ago | (#21357645)

Nuclear power is very clean compared to any power source that burns fuel.
If you are going to toss around inexact language like "is very clean" I don't think you can afford to be picky about what it means to "burn fuel".

As Nikky Telsa said in 1915, "No matter what we attempt to do, no matter to what fields we turn our efforts, we are dependent on power. We have to evolve means of obtaining energy from stores which are forever inexhaustible, to perfect methods which do not imply consumption and waste of any material whatever. If we use fuel to get our power, we are living on our capital and exhausting it rapidly. This method is barbarous and wantonly wasteful and will have to be stopped in the interest of coming generations."

If it uses up a limited resource, it's "burning fuel", at least metaphorically, and therefore lame. Screw that. Let's figure out how to tap into the vast power represented by the titanic spinning mass we live on, or the even more titanic mass that shines in our skies, instead of perpetuating the cycle of digging stuff up stuff until it we use it all up. Those experiments [nasa.gov] with dangling wires from the shuttle are a step in the right direction.

Re:Is fission not considered "burning fuel"? (1)

geekoid (135745) | more than 6 years ago | (#21357807)

Pssstt. Telsa was loony.
Genius, but Loony in the end.

Not the first intelligent person to begin to believe 'oddities'.

more non-renewable sources (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21357669)

Yes nuclear power is clean but the radioactive fuel is not a renewable resource. No more than oil and other petrochemicals.
Build a mighty infrastructure to power the world with the atom, end up with tons of radioactive waste with five digit half lives and once all the uranium and plutonium are used up what will mankind use next?
Go ahead and argue that Earth's crust has a limitless supply [americanen...ndence.com] , considering humanity's lifespan, but there's going to be a point where mining uranium will be more expensive than generating electricity with nuclear power plants causing another energy crisis.
Finally are humans using nuclear energy to its fullest potential? Humans are using it to boil water rather than actually tapping the atom for its energy.

Re:more non-renewable sources (1)

timmarhy (659436) | more than 6 years ago | (#21357729)

yet again a clueless comment, i just added you to the list of people i'm smarter than.

Re:more non-renewable sources (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21357829)

Wow, you're a bigger idiot for responding to Anonymous and saying you're smarter than Anonymous.

will not again stifle our progress... (1)

flaming error (1041742) | more than 6 years ago | (#21357675)

at mucking up our own life support system?

Homer Simpson will take the job (1)

Joe The Dragon (967727) | more than 6 years ago | (#21357687)

and min wage pay is ok.

yah, don't let enviromental concern stop us ... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21357757)

after all, it's not like we need an environment!!

Sadly the nuclear 'industry' seems more concerned with profitability than safety. From TMI, Chernobyl, Silkwood and the China Syndrome, they haven't given us any reason to trust the. This looks like just more already affluent people who want to make even more money they don't really need and without any regard for the risks or people involved.

Actual net results, please (2, Interesting)

Dasher42 (514179) | more than 6 years ago | (#21357801)

...And all that process of uranium mining and refinement runs on sweet dreams and sunshine?

All advocates ignore the downsides of their choice (1)

WillAffleckUW (858324) | more than 6 years ago | (#21357831)

And for nuclear fission, the reality is that there are significant downsides rarely mentioned in the popular media.

These include, but are not limited to:

a. deaths in the mining process itself;
b. waste byproducts from the mining process;
c. heavy metal contamination from the ore extraction process;
d. chemical contaminants released into the environment during ore extraction;
e. air and water pollution due to methods used for ore extraction;
f. failure to consider the 100,000 plus year lifespan of the spent elements in risk scenarios.

I'm not saying, looked at from the viewpoint of fuel rod usage that the reactors aren't safe, although the CANDU and French reactors are safer by virtue of design.

But the risk factors of the full process are rarely measured properly when compared with other methods.

All energy production entails contaminants of some sort in the full life-cycle spectrum, and nuclear fission is not much cleaner than many other less risky choices.
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  • strong
  • tt
  • blockquote
  • div
  • quote
  • ecode

"ecode" can be used for code snippets, for example:

<ecode>    while(1) { do_something(); } </ecode>