It's the Environment, Stupid.

Tuesday, February 07, 2006

Nuclear power is all the rage

The Christian Science Monitor has jumped on the nuclear power band-wagon, reporting on a recent poll that more and more Americans want nuclear power. They interview Greenpeace co-founder Patrick Moore to back up this increasing popularity perspective.

Sorry, did I miss who it is exactly that is promoting nuclear as the energy solution of the future? Is it the IAEA who conducted the poll in question? Or are they just one cog in some greater nuclear power master plan?

Don't get me wrong, I don’t think nuclear power should be eliminated altogether. It can certainly have a place in our energy future – but I think nuclear waste should be eliminated, and I don’t think new nuclear power plants should be built until that small matter is taken care of (echoing my post of 1/27/06).

However, I will take a moment to explore a little of the bias in this article, just because it's fun.

“To Patrick Moore, who cofounded Greenpeace, nuclear power is the only realistic solution to future power needs. 'You can't solve this problem with windmills and photo panels alone,' says the chairman of Greenspirit Strategies Ltd., a Vancouver, B.C., environmental consulting firm. These two power sources tend to be expensive. More important, they are 'intermittent.' They work only when the wind blows or the sun shines. Economies need 'baseload' power that operates all the time.”

Wind and solar tend to be expensive? What, is nuclear cheap? Can someone point me to a cost-benefit analysis comparing the two? Is nuclear waste disposal/maintenance factored into any CBAs out there?

As far as the intermittent power supply point - is there research on ways to effectively store up energy when the wind doesn't blow and the sun doesn't shine? Are we any farther in fuel-cell technology? Is clean coal technology a bust?

This article also mentions that the Nuclear Regulatory Commission will make it easier to get a nuclear plant built. Now that’s progress! I wonder where they'll put them all. Surely there won’t be any NIMBY issues since everyone is pro-nuclear now.

How about safety?
"Is this risky? Yes, but all power sources have problems. Coal mining is dangerous. Dams can clobber the environment. Natural gas is explosive. Oil is costly. All fossil fuels emit greenhouse gases. Windmills are noisy and can kill birds."

Comparing noisy with radiation exposure? Hmmm...seems like an adequate comparison to me. Although maybe wind technology is too new to tell its long term effects on people.

Homeland security?
"Terrorists might succeed in crashing an airplane into a nuclear plant. But a modern containment structure is unlikely to be penetrated. It consists of six feet of reinforced concrete, with one-inch steel plates on both sides. Even if such a suicide mission succeeded in penetrating the dome, the plant would not explode. Radiation might be spread, but most of it would weaken rapidly and is less dangerous than many think, says Moore."

The plant won’t explode and radiation isn’t as dangerous as we might think? Great! Bring on nuclear power! Only don't let any photos or stories of people that have been exposed to radiation out - might hurt all the warm fuzzies towards nuclear.

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