Posted by pseudonym on July 6, 2004, 5:09 am
Well, for something like the brooklyn bridge, you can make it quite
reliable, do stress testing, etc, and you have a history of how
bridges hold up over their lifetimes, and millenia of civil
engineering before that. Airplanes, of course, fail periodically, and
some people will always be killed that way. Failures are kept to a
minimum by investigating every fault, and fixing it so it never
happens exactly the same way twice.
With nuclear waste containment, the time where it has to be reliable
is longer than the time civilization has existed; you do not have a
history of how this containment works over the lifetime of the thing.
Extrapolating from a few stress tests and a 50 year history of
containing (and failing to contain) waste to a 10,000 year operating
life is nothing more than educated guesswork. By comparison, you can
extrapolate from previous experience to the decades or centuries a
bridge may be in operation with some confidence.
Well historical figures did many bad things. We needn't emulate them
or descend any further. And, if the nile river were radioactive as a
result of Ramses wanting to have better air conditioning, I think we
would hold him up as one of history's great horrors.
Any security can be penetrated; having lots of radioactive material
around means that the inevitable terrorist successese will be far more
destructive. The september 11 attackers thought of taking out a
nuclear reactor with aircraft, but decided not to, that time. There's
no way of protecting every plant, everywhere, forever. If you could,
it would be horribly expensive.
Why not just cover north dakota with wind farms and arizona with PV?
From a national security point of view, it's far, far safer.
Posted by Fred B. McGalliard on July 6, 2004, 3:31 pm
As I understand the plan. It is, store the hot spent fuel for a few years to
cool off then "dispose" of it. The dispose process has been discussed to
death, so most of the fuel rods are cooling down a few extra years at the
facility. The problem is not that no one has figured out what to do, but
because no one can get the citizens to agree to let them do anything (any of
the 5 or 10 solutions now considered technically adequate).
Posted by pseudonym on July 7, 2004, 2:18 pm
Perhaps a more precise way to say it is, the waste stays at the
reactor because it at present has no where else to go. You can blame
this on NIMBYism if you want, but that doesn't make the problem go
You have to count the full costs of nuclear power, and it seems to me
that a lot of that cost is securing the waste for eternity. Even if
you assume reactors can be made perfectly safe, it may be that nuclear
power is too expensive to serve as the primary energy source, except
where subsidised or used for military applications -- submarines,
aircraft carriers, etc. One source of subsidy is assuming the
government and future generations will handle your waste disposal and
security problems for you.
Posted by Fred B. McGalliard on July 7, 2004, 4:44 pm
You have to count the full cost of coal power, and that seems to me that a
lot of that cost is securing the waste for eternity (because the waste
includes poisons that never break down), where nuclear waste only needs to
be secured for up to a few thousand years. (after that it becomes just
chemical waste and is about as nasty as the coal waste, except not as
Why one solution for coal and another for nuclear? If the reactors just
sprayed the fuel into the air after 100 years, they would emit less
radionuclide than the coal plant does per KWH. So why are we so much more
worried because the radioactive material comes from a reactor rather than a
You have to count the full cost of hydro power. The cost of warming the
impound and changing fish species in the rivers, loosing the migratory
species like the salmon. Changing the erosion balance and where the beaches
are located (the sand beaches, many of them anyway, are stable only by a
constant influx of sand from the erosion materials carried down the rivers).
Of increasing the risk of massive flooding when the dam fails, and of course
the risk of terrorist attack. The disposal of accumulated silt without
injuring the disposal area. This is our most benign energy source and it is
still very costly in unpriced ways.
And in the end, you also have to count the full cost of not having that
power there when you need it. What is the cost of not getting our folk to
work? You know this personally if you were out of work during the Bush
Posted by John Beardmore on July 7, 2004, 10:47 pm
And at what concentration ?
How few thousand years did you have in mind ?
A good point if it's true. Is it ?
The concentration of waste, reactor fires, track record, new technology,
dread risk, cancer etc...
Yes, all options have environmental aspects and impacts, but
a) can you show that nuclear power is better ?
b) If so, by what criteria ?
c) Do all stakeholders agree on the criteria ?
d) If not (c), then who the hell are you to impose a solution ?