Sunday, July 16, 2006

Interesting take on nuclear power

I've been opposed to nuclear power since .... well, forever. Before Chernobyl. Before Three Mile Island. But if you take the global warming crisis seriously, then I think you have to go back and go through the whole risk-benefit analysis again on nuclear power. Chernobyl was a horrible tragedy, but if the choice is (and maybe it is and maybe it isn't -- I'm just throwing a hypothetical out there in a bottle with a lit rag in the end) another Chernobyl on e one hand or Al Gore's worst case scenario on the other, how sure are you that your first answer is the best one?

I am not saying that I am ready to embrace nukes -- not by a long shot. But read this thoughtful discussion from

I am not sure I agree with everything there, but I do think it is a good discussion to have. As the post points out, there are huge and difficult problems with decommissioning and disposal that have not been solved. There are lots of reasons for that, but should we assume that they are therefore unsolveable?


Anonymous Anonymous said...

The Chinese have made tremendous strides in nuclear technology, using a variation of the water cooled reactor called a "pebble bed" reactor. They have done extensive testing and development on these even to the point where the cooling pumps can be turned off, simulating a failure, and the reactor simply slows down and cools off by itself. They have also designed power plants around these reactors in a modular fashion that enables them to run a railroad line to the site where they want to put it, and assemble the power plant like a giant Erector Set, having it up and running in a few years. There is still the problem of what to do with spent fuel, and that is the big obstacle to further development of nuclear energy on a large scale.

2:12 PM  
Anonymous Paul in LA said...

The line that needs to be drawn is that of PROFIT.

No company can be trusted to run a reactor. Time and again we have been shown the inapplicability of capitalism and the profit-motive to nuclear energy.

Many are unaware of the near-nuke disaster in Feb 01, 40 miles west of Toledo, Ohio. A fist-sized chunk of reactor vessel was missing, gone, corroded away. The only thing preventing a worse-than-Three-Mile-Island disaster was the stainless steel cladding, which inflated out the hole like bubblegum.

If you want to trust the Ohio River Valley to a 3 mil sheet of stainless, then nuclear energy for profit is your ticket to Glowing Futures.

As for pebble beds, etc., the real problem is COOLING PONDS, which pebble bed reactors have just like the old style. They are a PERMANENT terrorist target.

3:07 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Blue said ... there are huge and difficult problems with decommissioning and disposal...

I say ... huge is your neighbor's rottweiler; really, really outrageously big is a humvee bearing down on you; nuclear is not even in the same game. Check. Please check. There is no way in hell to make nuclear energy that doesn't cost an order of magnitude more than any other source to clean up after. It's not if you pay, just when, and who is alive at the time. Check! Please. The fact that we are coming to an energy crunch is the worst reason to put blinders on. Check. Don't go soft.. nuclear will do that for you.


4:49 PM  
Blogger bluememe said...


I am, as I said, deeply skeptical about nukes. But I am taking global warming seriously, which means I am willing to revisit issues that would otherwise be firmly settled.

My gut says you are right. All I am saying is that intellecutal honest sometimes requiresm questioning your gut and circling back that way.

9:57 PM  

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