Thursday, March 19, 2015

Are anti-nukes giving coal a free pass?

On a near weekly basis, I see headlines about some sort of ecological disaster. The gamut includes oil spills, fracking pollution, gas fires, coal ash spills and the list goes on. Carbon energy pollution is a never ending stream of abuses upon the earth. Do we see environmentalists rising up against carbon energy the way they line up to defeat nuclear energy? Not as far as I can see. Well, OK, they did manage a short-lived divestment campaign to get money out of carbon energy industries. But nuclear power? People will fill the streets against that in America.

When a permit for a nuclear power plant is sought, an army of environmentalists will be there. Poisoning the well, preventing meaningful dialog on the topic of nuclear energy "because there is no future in nuclear". Well, if that were the case, France would not have 75% of their power supplied by nuclear power. Who cares if after the oil crisis in the 70s, France engineered an economical nuclear power response in about 15 years. Here are some interesting facts about France from Wikipedia:
"As of 2012, France's electricity price to household customers is the seventh-cheapest amongst the 27 members of the European Union, and also the seventh-cheapest to industrial consumers, with a rate of €0.14 per kWh to households and €0.07 per kWh to industrial consumers. France was the biggest energy exporter in the EU in 2012, exporting 45TWh of electricity to its neighbours. During very cold or hot periods demand routinely exceeds supply due to the lack of more flexible generating plants, and France needs to import electricity."
In 15 years, 56 plants were built and put into production. That would never happen in the US thanks to environmentalists who seem to prefer coal, oil and gas to nuclear power.

Never mind that carbon waste is a far more toxic carcinogen than radiation. Never mind that radiation released from Fukishima did not create the environmental disaster that is being claimed by the media and environmentalists. Fish is safe to eat as far as radiation is concerned. Thyroid cancers were lower near the reactor than in surrounding areas. The Fukishima evacuation zone is still mostly habitable. The Fukishima death toll is too small to measure. That is what we can learn when we read articles from nuclear scientists who do the research to see what really happened. But don't worry, you won't hear that kind of news from anti-nuclear environmentalists. Remember, the goal is to win at any cost. Even if the cost is more CO2 in the air, coal ash in the water and or exploding rail cars on land.

In surveying the damage from nuclear power plants and comparing them to the damage from any carbon based energy plants, I'll take a nuclear power plant any day. But I'm not just talking any nuclear power plant. The plants currently in production run at very high pressures and do not have passive safety built in. They do not use waste as fuel for fuel cycling.

The GenIV power plants will have that built in. Fukishima was built on 1950s technology. The Chernobyl design was a crazy design that was never replicated anywhere else in the world and scientists familiar with that plant know this. Yet, most people think of Chernobyl first when they think of nuclear disasters.

I'm talking about thorium molten salt reactors, the design Alvin Weinberg promoted for civilian use from day one. Weinberg invented the light water reactor and the molten salt reactor, so he should know.



Consider also, the attitude towards safety of the carbon energy industry. With almost bottomless pockets, they can fend all but the most concerted political and legal attacks on their industry. They can also use that money to thwart the nuclear power industry (and renewable power) as they have done so in the past.

Could it be that the antinuclear movement is just a useful tool for carbon energy interests? I think so..
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