Comment 61875

By Myrcurial (registered) - website | Posted April 05, 2011 at 11:38:10

I am proud to say that my watch runs on nuclear power and so does my BLT sandwich. All those horrible terrifying wind generators are nuclear powered - and so is that coal burning electrical plant and the gas turbine plant in Halton.

If we didn't have ubiquitous nuclear power, the human race and in fact, life as we know it would never have come into existence.

Yeah - the day star - it's a very large nuclear reactor and it pours both ionizing and non-ionizing radiation at our planet all the time.

The Fukushima disaster is what happens when you run a high output BWR reactor 15 years past it's design lifetime. If you make exceptions to the very conservative rules, you can fully expect that you will have significant issues. Nuclear power isn't as cheap as we'd hoped with the reactor designs that we have, but it's pretty cheap compared to the ecological cost of 70GW worth of coal burning generation capacity in brand-new maybe-emissions-controlled coal plants that are being commissioned over the next 3 years. If we were to use better designs - and almost certainly the thorium fuel cycle rather than a uranium fuel cycle.(2)

There are very safe ways to run nuclear reactors. If you are a Hamiltonian, you're living very close to one of the few places in the world with an open fission reactor -- you can visit and see it for yourself (3) any weekday afternoon. There's been less radiation released from the MNR /EVER/ than is released from coal burning at US Steel / Arcelor-Mittal in one year. (1) And the coal exhaust goes straight into the air we breathe and the water we drink.

It's time to realize that our extraordinarily high requirements for energy are not going away and we need to approach our future (and our childrens' future) energy consumption needs with something other than "We do it the way Grandpa used to do it." energy policy that pervades discussions about oil and nuclear and the gimme-what-I-want-or-I'll-pout NIMBYism that we accept as normal. And ZOMGWTFBBQ - we need a comprehensive science, technology, engineering and math education program for EVERYONE - so we can at least have a discussion that isn't at the "gee whiz, looks like we need to call Dumbledore to fix it" level.

(1) All coal burning plants release naturally occuring uranium and thorium in addition to entrapped heavy metals as part of the combustion and exhaust process. If you're in the stack shadow (~1km) then you get an additional 5% over the normal background radiation does that you get from being on this planet. Hamilton's drinking water source is within that stack shadow.



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