Public rejoices at new 'green' nukes
Time for that nuke ferry across the Mersey
The initial results of the government's consultation on the future of nuclear power are in, and broadly supportive of the government's position - to revive the moribund nuclear industry because it's now "green".
The consultation asked more than 1,000 people around the country to answer the following question:
"In the context of tackling climate change and ensuring energy security, do you agree or disagree that it would be in the public interest to give energy companies the option of investing in new nuclear power stations?"
Overall, the 45 per cent of the UK professed itself to either agree or strongly agree with this statement. Regionally, this ranged from 39 per cent in London to 62 per cent in Exeter. Dissenters managed to grab 37 per cent of the national vote, with 16 per cent neither agreeing nor disagreeing. A further two per cent were simply unable to make up their minds.
Secretary of State for Business and Enterprise, John Hutton, found himself in Liverpool this weekend, where 40 per cent of respondents either agreed or strongly agreed with the statement. The city also had the largest percentage who neither agreed nor disagreed, although what this tells us about having cabinet ministers at public events is unclear.
"Today has been a tremendous success. Around 1,000 people have shared their views on how we can secure our energy supplies for the future. We have a preliminary view; that nuclear should be able to play a part in providing the energy that we need to keep the lights on and help cut carbon emissions. But it is important that we know what the public thinks."
(As long as it's what we want - ed).
Last week the green lobby threatened to walk out of the consultation, accusing the government of being selective in the material it was putting forward to the public at the consultations.
You can make your voice heard for another month by pointing your browser here and taking part in the consultation. ®
For those hung up on chernobyl
Interesting how people cherrypick cases to suit their argument.
Every year, more people are killed in coalmines than were killed by chernobyl. That's even before we consider the tens of thousands of people killed by emissions from coal-fired power stations. Oh, and they also release lots of radioactive materials into the air...
Of course, chernobyl was a poor design even by 1980s standards. Any new nuclear power station in Britain would have to meet much higher standards in almost every respect. Perhaps you'd like to use the Trabant and Lada as the basis for a critique of the 21st century car industry?
Unfortunately, "renewable" sources won't satisfy our electricity-generation needs any time soon, so we have a choice between fossil fuels or nuclear. In terms of environmental damage, what do you prefer? Pumping *billions* of tonnes of CO2 (and plenty of other nasties) into the air, or packaging a few tonnes of radioactive waste & putting them in a hole?
"I'd much rather this decision was made by people who actually understand the issues."
Woa there, mate. You're being unreasonable now... :-)
It's always hard to find anybody who can tell you how things are without having some vested interest. But for what's worth...
I recently learned about the "fast neutron reactors", or fast breeder reactors, etc. (Dec. 2005 Sci. Am.). Supposedly, France plans to have about 50% of their reactors being of that type by 2050 or the like. By the little I understood and remember of that (which might have some inaccuracies), these reactors are 60 times more efficient than the current thermal reactors. They are safer, in that they do not use pressurized water as cooling, but room temp liquid metals. Depending on how they are set up, they can burn the remains of old decommissioned weapons, as well as not produce any more of these nasties. The final waste is much less "toxic", with much shorter half lives, etc. So why didn't these stay? Filthy money talks louder, always. These reactors, even being around for decades, are more expensive to build and maintain (they need their fuel to be reprocessed every once in a while). And uranium is cheap comparatively, so... Instead of depending on the Eastern guys you will depend on the Aussies, oi!
Anyway, I've also recently read that coal plants spread much more radiation than nuclear ones. Huh? Here it goes:
"Coal also contains low levels of uranium, thorium, and other naturally-occurring radioactive isotopes whose release into the environment leads to radioactive contamination. While these substances are present as very small trace impurities, enough coal is burned that significant amounts of these substances are released. A 1,000 MW coal-burning power plant could release as much as 5.2 tons/year of uranium (containing 74 pounds of uranium-235) and 12.8 tons/year of thorium. The radioactive emission from this coal power plant is 100 times greater than a comparable nuclear power plant with the same electrical output; including processing output, the coal power plant's radiation output is over 3 times greater."
This is from the Oak Ridge, after redigestion by Wikipedia. The original statement with numbers and all:
"For comparison, according to NCRP Reports No. 92 and No. 95, population exposure from operation of 1000-MWe nuclear and coal-fired power plants amounts to 490 person-rem/year for coal plants and 4.8 person-rem/year for nuclear plants. Thus, the population effective dose equivalent from coal plants is 100 times that from nuclear plants. For the complete nuclear fuel cycle, from mining to reactor operation to waste disposal, the radiation dose is cited as 136 person-rem/year; the equivalent dose for coal use, from mining to power plant operation to waste disposal, is not listed in this report and is probably unknown."