Tag Archive for nuclear energy

Nuclear Power Pull Out by Toshiba; A Proof that we need to be careful what we wish for.

With Toshiba/Westinghouse pulling out of the nuclear power plant market, we see further proof about the economic failure of this mode of power generation. To be sure, there are a number of factors that contributed to this event, from Fukushima to regulations as they are applied in the U.S.

This is not about reducing regulatory standards. But the pull out may trigger the law of unintended consequences.

As noted, in the U.S., nuclear power plants must meet stringent safety standards. This is clearly a good thing.

These standards are effectively exported by the large companies that design and build such plants in the U.S. But with this pull out, state owned plants and companies (clearly a bad idea) can and may very well lower their standards for safety in certain parts of the world. That is clearly a bad thing.

Any ideas?

Read the full article:
The Murky Future of Nuclear Power in the United States
Limited free access; NY Times subscription may be required.

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Nuclear Power Plants

I have written several times about Nuclear Power and I am still amazed at the articles and discussions that I read on how this form of power production is being pushed as a means of reducing carbon emissions and thus, should be pushed forward. More amazing is the logic that we should go forward with Nuclear Power in spite of the risks associated with its use.

Nuclear Power Plants IllustrationAs I have stated before, I am not overly concerned about the safe running of a nuclear power plant in the United States. I have had the privilege of seeing nuclear power plants in operation and I have a high level of confidence in their operational safety. It is the long term safety issues that concerns me.

No one has adequately addressed issues regarding nuclear waste storage or safety. No one has adequately addressed the issues of subsidies by taxpayers that are more than 60 years old.

I do hear about the unfair subsidies for clean energy sources and conservation…but let me sum up this way.

If a solar field is subsidized, it is still catching up to a century of subsidies for fossil fuels and decades of subsidies for nuclear.

If a solar field, dam or windmill fails, the result is a short term and localized disaster. If a nuclear power plant, or nuclear waste is let loose, well, we know the result.

This new found love for nuclear power is a misplaced affection that will cost all of us for thousands of years to come. It simply does not pass the test for sustainability.

I do hope this is the last time it comes up, but I doubt it.

Read the full article:
Nuclear Plants, Despite Safety Concerns, Gain Support as Clean Energy Sources
Limited free access; NY Times subscription may be required.

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Safe Nuclear Power…The Illusion Faces Some Harsh Reality

To be fair, I have never been a big fan of nuclear power. I am not overly concerned about a meltdown in a plant in the United States…we did come close…but so far so good. And even with the failures in the Ukraine and Japan, I have a reasonable degree of confidence in plant operations (well maybe not as high as I used to). But the underlying problem of nuclear power has never, in my mind at least, been plant operation.

nuclear-wasteNuclear power is a classic example of our arrogance at developing a technology that generates waste, highly dangerous waste at that, without considering how we can and should safely handle that waste. I have written about this some time ago…and now we have a new twist.

As noted in the Times, there is a large concern that nuclear material can be stolen and used to create weapons. I am not too concerned about bombs…the technology is simply too hard to obtain…but the waste that we create is simply not being properly secured.

I applaud the efforts of the US and other countries that are trying to get a handle on this material. But really, do we need to keep supporting (with taxpayer subsidies) an industry that creates a material that can destroy areas for many years?

We can’t put the genie back in the bottle so to speak, but you would think that we learned our lesson. Let’s consider two options here as our lessons.

1. Don’t manufacture a product until we can demonstrate that it can be recycled or disposed of safely.
2. Instead of subsidizing old technology like fossil fuels and nuclear, let’s take all of that money and invest it in clean energy and conservation

Read the full article:
Nuclear Materials Remain Vulnerable to Theft, Despite U.S.-Led Effort
Limited free access; NY Times subscription may be required.

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Energy Subsidies: Nuclear

We read a great deal about how clean nuclear power is with regard to CO2 emissions. Thus, we are told that this is a good investment. Is it?

The problem with all of the subsidies, and renewables are not exempt from this argument, is that those who argue for them tend to ignore the total cost of the program and the hidden subsidies that they receive. I think that Nuclear is probably one of the worst in terms of ignoring real costs vs. benefits.

First, Nuclear power has a limit on the liability risk that it has to carry in case of an accident. The total liability for a single accident is limited to approximately $500 million.

Now, there have been claims with regard to safety risk with regard to wind and solar….but let’s be real. If a wind turbine breaks, it is certainly a risk to the immediate surroundings. If a nuclear power plant has a serious accident…and we know that this can happen, I think that I am on safe ground to say that the risk is millions of times greater.

So why do we subsidize the nuclear industry? This is a long story. But the idea of “Power to Cheap to Meter” was on everyone’s mind. Clearly this has not happened.

And let’s not even get into the long term disposal requirements….Paid for partly with tax dollars….

Did you know that some radioactive waste must be stored for over 200,000 years to be safe? I mean really. How arrogant is the assumption that any society will be around to safeguard something for that long?

Heck, the New York Times reported recently on the trial of an 82 year old nun who broke into one of the most secure nuclear storage facilities in the country!!

Nuclear Energy

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