Nuclear energy – the sick man of the corporate world
1. Major nuclear accidents Mayak (Russia) 1957, Windscale (UK) 1957, Three Mile Island (USA) 1979, Chernobyl, 1986, Tomlsk, Siberia 1993, Fukushima, 2011 – who’s next?
2. USA is the top nuclear country with 104 commercial reactors, average age 32 years, (and who knows how many military and research ones. Wikipedia lists nearly 50 types of USA naval nuclear reactors.) Commercial nuclear power development is paralysed in USA, because the Nuclear Regulatory Commission is waiting for a new “Waste Confidence Rule” – a plan for permanent radioactive waste disposal. Rust bucket nuclear reactors are a problem in every “nuclear”country, with France particularly afflicted, unable to afford costly safety upgrades.
3. New nuclear reactors? – There are Finland And France’s financial disasters of the Generation IV Olkiluoto, and Flamanville unfinished reactors. USA’s financial, legal disaster of Plant Vogtle? China? The nuke lobby touts China – but no new reactors have actually been built there in recent years. The mess of competing designs, (and all of them unaffordable) .
4. Squabbles within nuclear industry Conventional nuclear reactors versus reprocessing reactors. Big reactors versus small ones. Thorium-fuelled reactors versus uranium ones. A labyrinth of designs competing for sales Westinghouse 1000, Generation IV, Generation V, Fast Breeder, Travelling Wave Mini Reactor, Thorium Liquid Fuel Reactor, Power Reactor Innovative Small Module (PRISM) – all apparently proven to be safe, because they’re not the same as the Fukushima ones. Work that out!
Anxiety in mining industries. Uranium fuel versus thorium.Uncertainty – will thorium reactors make uranium mining obsolete. But, will thorium be a dud?
Countries in cutthroat competition to sell reactors overseas. France, China scrambling to sell to UK. USA, Russia, Japan compete for India. Every multinational nuclear company salivating about sales to Middle Eastern countries!
5. Most reactors are near the sea. Sea level rise combines with extreme weather events to endanger them. Nuclear reactors (and uranium mining) require huge amounts of water, but with climate change, fresh water becomes scarcer.
6. Still, the commercial nuclear industry is utterly entwined with nuclear weapons. But for defense, security – nuclear weapons are not needed.
7. – financial problems in USA and elsewhere have led falling demand for electricity, removing the nuclear lobby’s argument about endless growth in energy need. Even in China, the growth cycle will eventually contract.
8. Storage systems now add to the advantages of solar power, which is also becoming cheaper. Wind and solar systems can be up and running within a short period of time, (unlike nuclear) . Decentralised solar and wind are farmed alongside traditional agriculture and leave no environmental scar on the land – and their fuel is free!
9. The USA wrestles with the danger of its nuclear reactors, radioactive spent fuel ponds, – at least we get to hear about this. UK in a crisis with its piles of plutonium. Japan in the biggest dilemma with its dangerous facilities and wastes. China – well – we don’t get to hear about China – a totalitarian state, where dissent is not tolerated. That does not inspire confidence in its nuclear safety.
10. Governments, corporations, and mainstream media are all embroiled in the well funded fairy tale of safe, necessary, nuclear power, in the influence of the nuclear and weapons lobbies. . But, worldwide, distrust and opposition to nuclear is growing. The nuclear industry is losing the.hearts and minds of people, and they know it.
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