Clean, safe nuclear power 41 replies

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Relander

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#1 11 years ago

In the time when fossil-based energy is seen as destructive for the climate & environment, but clean, renewing energy like windpower is usually too expensive and/or rather ineffective, nuclear power has filled this gap. Nuclear power is safe today with modern industrial technology and clean for the climate, not to mention the fact that one nuclear plant produces vast amount of energy in itself.

I think we need more nuclear power. But what is your opinion?




WarHawk109

From the Austrian School

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#2 11 years ago

where we can yes, but i don't have a problem with fossil fuels.




masked_marsoe VIP Member

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#3 11 years ago
Absolutely not, we should decrease it

Not quite strong enough for my opinion.

Nuclear power is vastly overrated as a clean, green power generator. The waste it produces is not clean, nor is it safe, and it poses a severe risk of ecocide.

If uranium is being used at 2004 levels, and remains steady at 2004 levels, uranium stocks will be depleted (if not gone) by 2040. Obviously, growth in nuclear generation will shrink that faster. I'm not sure about plutonium or other nuclear elements, but they will all be rare, if not rarer. Given then, the costs of building a highly expensive plant that might only be able to give two or so decades of electricity should by itself mean that nuclear power is bumped to the bottom of the options list (higher than fossil fuels however).

Energy efficiency should come first, with solar (solar tubes provide much better production in low-light conditions), then wind, then geo-thermal, hydro, and finally wood. Then, if all those options have been exhausted, then and only then consider nuclear.

And before you comment, yes I have biased against nuclear power. Which country sent the navy in to break up French nuclear tests in the 70s? New Zealand did. Which country created a nuclear-free zone in law in the mid80s? New Zealand did. Which country suffered an anti-Anti-Nuclear terrorist attack? New Zealand did.

There are other, better, options.




AlDaja

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#4 11 years ago

Nuclear power is a clean* efficient way to produce abundant power. The whole scare that has activists up in arms, was based on two extreme isolated incidents (Chernobyl and Three Mile Island Unit 2 (TMI-2) nuclear power plant near Middletown, Pennsylvania) in the past because of unqualified individuals at the controls, and in the case of Chernobyl many of these technicians were not fully trained to handle a crisis situation – and because every new era of technology has its flaw or malfunction. Now we know more about how to manage this technology in a secure safe matter. Many nations already use nuclear power (about 17 -19% world's power supply) for energy and haven’t had any problems. I believe the nuclear reactor in Washington State is still operational, and I was glad of it. During the energy crisis in California a few years back, where everyone was on ration and had to endure frequent brown/black outs, a few of the northern counties near Oregon where I was, were the only ones not affected because we got our power from this plant. The extremists would like you to believe it is a horrible technology…yet they don’t have nearly a conniption with fossil fuel driven plants that form the black/brown rings around our cities.

*What Are the Risks?

Arguments against nuclear power reactors generally revolve around three main issues: nuclear waste; plutonium build-up; and radioactivity. Each of these issues is addressed below:

� Nuclear waste: Reactor fuel consists of uranium that has been formed into a usable metal alloy and produced as small pellets, rods, or plates. The fuel is encapsulated with a metal cladding, such as zircaloy, to provide mechanical strength and to prevent inadvertent outside radioactive contamination. Nuclear reactor waste or spent nuclear fuel consists of the fuel pellets that have been used in a reactor for a long period of time (usually several years) and have lost their ability to efficiently release energy. The spent fuel has many radioactive byproducts, such as the fission fragments, and must be stored to prevent hazardous exposure.

Presently, spent fuel is stored in shielded basins of water or dry storage vaults at the nuclear power plants. The radioactive byproducts must be allowed to decay to safe levels, which will take hundreds to thousands of years. Solid nuclear waste containers are designed, through both natural and engineered safety barriers, to withstand underground storage for at least 10,000 years.

Spent fuel can be safely stored on a permanent basis once a national repository is finally approved. Planned nuclear waste storage facilities such as the Yucca Mountain site are still undergoing environmental impact studies, having suffered numerous delays for the opening date. At present the opening of a national repository for the long-term storage of nuclear waste is over 12 years behind schedule, and at least one government laboratory source (see http://nsnfp.inel.gov) states that a national repository may not be available for another 20 years. But the problem is political, not scientific.

One way to address the nuclear waste issue is to reduce the amount of waste that needs to be stored. Other countries, such as France, have progressive nuclear fuel recycling programs whereby a large percentage of the unused uranium (and the small amount of plutonium produced) in the spent fuel is salvaged and then processed into new reactor fuel. According to the Nuclear Energy Institute (NEI), only 3 percent of spent fuel is actual fission byproduct waste; 96 percent is unused uranium, and the remaining 1 percent is the unused plutonium created during the fuel cycle. The benefits of spent nuclear fuel recycling include more efficient nuclear fuel usage, reduced chance of nuclear materials proliferation, and less buildup of nuclear reactor waste byproducts. The benefits of making more efficient use of nuclear fuel are obvious, yet the United States does not have a nuclear fuel recycling program in place at this time.

� Plutonium build-up: Western nuclear power reactors are constructed and engineered in a manner that minimizes plutonium build-up, and much of the plutonium that is produced inside the reactor is used during an ordinary fuel cycle. Moreover, it should be kept in mind that using fissile material for reactor fuel is a far better method of preventing nuclear proliferation than storage or burying those materials. After the fissile material has been used as nuclear fuel, it cannot possibly be used for weapons, thereby eliminating the possibility of use by potential terrorists.

� Radiation: The amount of radiation that is emitted by nuclear power plants, as already indicated, is minuscule. According to EPA guidelines, the annual whole body dose to the public is limited to 25 millirems for uranium fuel cycle operations (see 40 CFR part 190.10).

But before anyone panics at such a generous regulatory allotment, let�s put into proper focus how much radiation a millirem is. According to information from the NEI, the National Council on Radiation Protection and Measurements (NCRP), and the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), natural background radiation from the Earth�s crust ranges from 23 millirems per year at the Atlantic Coast to 90 millirems per year on the Colorado Plateau. Radiation inside the body is approximately 40 millirems per year from the food and water we consume and up to 200 millirems per year from natural levels of radon in the air we breathe. The annual radiation dose reaching us from outer space ranges from 26 millirems at sea level to 53 millirems at elevations between 7,000-8,000 feet. The radiation dose from a simple medical X-ray is approximately 20 millirems, and the average radiation dose from a 1,000-mile airline flight is about 1 millirem � meaning that a traveler who flies across the country and back will accumulate about 5 millirems. We also receive 1-2 millirems annually from watching television and would receive another 7 millirems annually from living in a brick building.

Now consider this: We would receive .03 millirem annually by living within a 50-mile radius of a coal-fired power plant, but only .009 millirem by living within a 50-mile radius of a nuclear power plant! Incredible as it may seem, we would have to live near a nuclear power plant for more than 2,000 years in order to receive the same amount of radiation that we would get from a single diagnostic medical X-ray.

source: Rethinking Nuclear Power by Douglas S. McGregor, Ph.D.




emonkies

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#5 11 years ago

I say yes

BUT

Using technology that allows for cleaner and safer reactors.

Anyone remember my post about a Toshiba self sustaning nuclear reactor that was sealed and maintenance free for something like 30 years and was being considered to power the Alaskan town of Galena.

It was the Toshiba 4S http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Toshiba_4S

The sealed reactors are to be buried 100m underground and use some kind of pelletized fuel that is safer and cheaper. The plant requires minimum of staff and only a very small above ground building and provides 10 MWatts of power.

If the application of new technology can make reactors safer and cleaner to operate and produce less nuclear waste then yes Im all for it.

But not if the cost is going to be another Cheyrnobyl or Three Mile Island. The biggest problem so far seems to be human error.

They simply have to make the reactors idiot proof.

EDIT: In response to MM's mention of depleted fissionable materials then I suggest Hydrogen fuel cells to power everything from your home to your car.

I am also a big supporter of E-85 ethanol...just as soon as I finish my Mustang that can run on it. Rubber hoses and alcohol dont mix.




ScOrPY VIP Member

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#6 11 years ago

There has been some articles of late in Australia talking about the possibility of us establishing nuclear power in the next yen years or so. As it does supply a steady stream of power it is good but the waste product of it all puts a lot of people off and currently it is not as competitive as power like coal. Thought if Australia did go nuclear we have a lot of uranium here. I would support nuclear power if it happened here.




emonkies

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#7 11 years ago

Maybe Sci fi will become reality.

Im referring to gigantic orbital solar collectors that gather energy from uninteruptable orbital location and then beam it to earth as microwave energy.




AlDaja

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#8 11 years ago
ScOrPY;3386383There has been some articles of late in Australia talking about the possibility of us establishing nuclear power in the next yen years or so. As it does supply a steady stream of power it is good but the waste product of it all puts a lot of people off and currently it is not as competitive as power like coal. Thought if Australia did go nuclear we have a lot of uranium here. I would support nuclear power if it happened here.

Check out my posting...this might help you with the "risk" part of nuclear power.




Faceless32

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#9 11 years ago

Anlushac11Maybe Sci fi will become reality.

Im referring to gigantic orbital solar collectors that gather energy from uninteruptable orbital location and then beam it to earth as microwave energy. __________________ "...Tell me did the wind sweep you off your feet Did you finally get the chance to dance along the light of day And head back to the Milky Way..." - "Drops Of Jupiter" by Train

LIke a Dyson sphere? That tecnolgy isn't going to bee around for another 500-1000 years.




Pb2Au

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#10 11 years ago

Yes, yes, YES! America has this strange taboo about nuclear power, which has something to do with Three Mile Island. It's an irrational fear about an amazing technology which can provide safe, clean power. Yet, politicians won't go near supporting the issue because the public is afraid of it. What we need is a campaign telling the truth about nuclear power. We need to start building more reactors, put money into fusion research, and get this to work well.

MarsoeEnergy efficiency should come first, with solar (solar tubes provide much better production in low-light conditions), then wind, then geo-thermal, hydro, and finally wood. Then, if all those options have been exhausted, then and only then consider nuclear.

I'm sorry, but I don't believe you know how electricity supply works. A city requires a constant source of electricity, as there is no way to store it. Basically, to be economic, a power plant must produce electricity at the exact rate a city consumes it (and you actually have people whose jobs it is to compile a year-round, 24 hour report of energy usage to estimate this). Any under, and you will have power shortages. Any over, and you will be wasting money (although generally this happens, because it's far better to waste money than to not be able to provide enough power). Moreover, once a power plant is shut down, it remains shut down for several months otherwise it is a huge power drain. You cannot rapidly flick a power plant on and off. For these reasons, solar, wind, and geo-thermal energy production is ineffective on a large scale. All three have uncontrolled fluctuations in their energy productions, and are therefore absolutely unsuitable to provide energy to anything on a scale greater than 'single dwelling.' Hydro plants, fossil fuel burners, and nuclear plants do not have this problem, because you can precisely regulate the flow of all fuel into the generators, and thereby supply an urban area with power. We know the issues with fossil fuel burners already. Hydro plants are very good (the Tennessee Valley Authority is an excellent example of hydro at work), but certain areas like the entire Mid-West U.S. is too far from a strong source of running water (you need a river flowing at a minimum velocity to produce energy) so they are not effective. Nuclear is great for supplying large cities: the energy production levels can be controlled more precisely than any other method, location does not matter, and contrary to your belief, we have plenty of space to safely store this stuff away. Besides, using it for fuel is better than it sitting in a stockpile of 1980's nuclear missiles in an underground silo in Iowa.