There’s a big push lately to revive the corpse of nuclear power, especially using global warming as an rationale since no CO2 is emitted in the production of electricity. There are lots of reasons why that is a terrible mistake.
While it’s true that no CO2 is produced at the end of the cycle, a tremendous amount is emitted in the construction of the plants; they are massive edifices. Containment vessels are typically one foot – 30cm - of steel surrounded by 12 feet of concrete. Copious amounts of energy are used in the construction of cooling towers.
The mining and refining of uranium also requires large amounts of energy and is toxic to miners and everybody involved in the process. It’s also a non-renewable resource. A large increase in uranium extraction will see it depleted in a couple of decades.
No country in world has yet created a permanent facility for the disposal of radioactive waste. The huge cost of locating and constructing permanent waste repositories is not included as part of plant cost. A
Most waste is stored in temporary cooling ponds at the plants themselves. Temporary in this case can also be thought of as not very secure and therefore a great target for terrorists.
One simple reason why no nuclear plant has been ordered in the
And how is it that Congress is so quick to subsidize nukes and fossil fuels but can never commit more than a pittance for renewables? In the pockets of industry maybe? Money invested in wind power brings a return in a year or two. Except for those few people who are offended by the presence of windmills marring their scenic views and those living in close proximity who are bothered by the low hum they emit, windmills are totally benign. Yes the wind is intermittent, but if you have a large number of installations scattered around a large area, say the
No plant would ever have been built in the
We hear how
In my mind the most frightening aspect of the nuclear push is where new plants are being built; in countries like
India can’t figure out how to provide toilets for more than half of its people so even in Mumbai, the country’s financial center and richest city, you see people shitting on the sidewalk, so how’s it going to properly maintain nukes? Chinese dairies are still adulterating their milk with melamine, a toxic industrial chemical, a year after a major scandal that killed several children and sickened hundreds of thousands. Whose going to enforce safety standards in a place where environmental campaigners are considered enemies of the state? If any country produces shoddier goods than
Don’t get me wrong, all three are great countries destined to take their rightful place in the modern world; they just aren’t ready for an industrial process that involves such an inherent, fundamental danger.
Add it up, that’s the future of nuclear power… and it ain’t pretty.