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The Forum > Article Comments > Energy prices, the climate and the nuclear bubble > Comments

Energy prices, the climate and the nuclear bubble : Comments

By Wade Allison, published 12/5/2014

You pay extra for what you insist on and the more you insist, the more you pay. That is the law of the street and it applies to the safety of nuclear radiation.

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Fukushima had the added drama of the tsunami and the hydrogen explosions which the public may forever associate with nuclear power. Between now and mid century will be critical for the nuclear industry. On the one hand there must be an acknowledgement that wind and solar will not materially replace fossil fuels. Ensuing comments will probably show the lesson of Germany has not been grasped. Then fossil fuels themselves will become problematic due to carbon emissions and depletion starting with oil.

In China at least many third generation light water reactors will be built. Will they run glitch free until say 2050? Does the risk increase if the number of reactors doubles? Those who think we don't need nuclear will have to show how to run heavy industry, power a city for a rainy week and replace transport fuels. Otherwise it must eventually be done with coal.
Posted by Taswegian, Monday, 12 May 2014 9:23:17 AM
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Scots have been living for generation in stone houses. The stone is principally granite, which exposes the dwellers to higher background radiation than nuclear power station workers!
With no visible side effects!
Coal fired power stations can and do spew more than just carbon emission into our air and water, but also arsenic, carcinogenic cadmium, mercury, lead and uranium, just to mention what has already been found, and or ingested? Where are the protest marches against that?
Helium cooled nuclear power stations can be mass produced as modules, that rely exclusively on nuclear pebbles, encased in virtually bullet proof graphite, grapefruit sized balls.
And just that much innovation ensures that there can't be any nuclear fuel pooling, the actual cause of Chennoble or Fukushima!
And given they no longer need water and can be trucked in and sited almost anywhere. This quite massively reduces the cost, and enables them to be producing power within weeks, or far less time than traditional coal!
Moreover, we own around 40% of the world's uranium, and invented the pulsed laser light method of enriching it; another factor that quite dramatically lowers the cost of value adding.
Which taken together, should make this power source cheaper than coal, and allow us, but only if we are finally, intelligently led, to power our own maritime fleet with a fuel source, that is good for around 25 years, before refueling!
What will others be paying for bunker fuel then? 10-20 dollars a litre?
Who would own the waves then, or more appropriately, just under them?
We also have a choice of developing cheaper than coal thorium powered power stations!
These are 50"s technology, with no weapons spin off, the reason they were abandoned!
China is reportedly building around one a week?
We don't need to go that far, albeit we have more of the stuff than uranium, and enough to power the world for 700 years?
As opposed to oxide reactors, these things consume around 95% of their fuel, and the waste is far less toxic, and is eminently suitable as very long life space batteries!
Rhrosty.
Posted by Rhrosty, Monday, 12 May 2014 9:33:32 AM
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It is refreshing to read a sensible article about nuclear power. The hysterical noises from the Greens and other left wing looneys have poisoned the political climate in many countries - small groups can and do cause massive damage and disinformation. There is absolutely no doubt the world will depend on nuclear power at some point in the future - not to far off by my guess - and the more rational debate we have the better.
Posted by Pliny of Perth, Monday, 12 May 2014 11:48:00 AM
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Ruptured reactors and ruptured expended nuclear fuel rod cooling areas release high level nuclear waste which is not "background" but deadly.

Nuclear disasters may be rare but when they do happen it effects whole countries. Fukushima was unlikely but still happened. The evacuation and cleanup is costing Japanese taxpayers and Fukushima residents many $Billions.

Allison talks of China. China is experiencing civic protest over its plans to build more nuclear power plants. There has been "inter-provincial squabble" over a nuclear power plant being built near the southern bank of the Yangtze River. The plant in the centre of the controversy is located in Pengze county in Jiangxi and across the river the government of Wangjiang county in Anhui wants the project shelved.

More than 1,000 people protested in Jiangmen City Hall in July 2013 to demand authorities abandon a planned uranium-processing facility that was designed as a major supplier to nuclear power stations. The Heshan Nuclear Power Industry Park was to be equipped with facilities for uranium conversion and enrichment as well as the manufacturing of fuel pellets, rods and finished assemblies. As the weekend protest continued, Chinese officials announced the state-run project's cancellation. see http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nuclear_power_in_China#Public_opposition
Posted by plantagenet, Monday, 12 May 2014 12:10:34 PM
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plantagenet - I think you'r confusing the cleanup due to the tsunami with the cleanup due to the problems with the reactor...

The author mentions thousands of deaths caused by the reaction to the reactor disaster rather than the disaster itself.. I'm not surprised by the figure but what examples of this are there?
Posted by Curmudgeon, Monday, 12 May 2014 1:34:27 PM
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Hi Curmudgeon

Thanks for the query. I do mean the cleanup for the Fukushima REACTOR complex and reactor accident funds are costing $Billions:

A$95 Billion is just a portion of the money Japanese taxpayers are paying to Tepco the Japanese Company that owns/owned the Fukushima nuclear reactors.

See "Japanese government to bear more Fukushima cleanup costs for Tepco" http://uk.reuters.com/article/2013/12/20/japan-tepco-idUKL3N0JY1R620131220 :

"Under the new plan, the [Japanese] government, which essentially nationalised Tepco last year with a 1 trillion yen ($9.59 billion) injection of public funds, will nearly double to 9 trillion yen (US$86.35 billion) the amount of interest-free loans it provides [to Tepco] through the state-backed Nuclear Damage Liability Facilitation Corp (NDLFC)."

Nuclear reactor advocates can talk around these costs as much as they like.

Fukushima was considered extremely unlikely by Japanese engineers - but then it happened.

How about a major nuclear accident happening near of Sydney or Melbourne? Full size nuclear power reactors need to be built near large bodies of water - in Australia that means the coast or perhaps the northern NSW rivers near Byron Bay.

Reactors also need to be built near the consumer cities in order to minimise the lose of electricity sent on heavy cables from reactor to city.

Pete
Posted by plantagenet, Monday, 12 May 2014 3:41:30 PM
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