Burying Nuke energy in the scrap heap of technology

This entry was posted Wednesday, 16 March, 2011 at 4:49 pm

Hi Everyone,

I, as many of you probably have, am receiving lots of anti-nuclear emails.  And yes, this disaster warrants the opportunity to “pile on” while the opportunity exists.  The nuke industry and utilities have enormous power and even have convinced some environmental groups to promote nukes as an option to “reduce CO2″, as well as help developing and developed countries alike meet their growing energy needs and “lift folks out of poverty.”  Duke Energy was lying to the NC Utilities Commission just yesterday, begging for $287 million for pre-planning another nuke plant. The Obama Admin. has caved under pressure from this powerful lobby (as well as others).

There is no evidence that these nuke plants need to be built in this country any time soon, particularly with tax payer subsidy, when there are many alternative energy sources and “low hanging fruit” available.  Current nuke technology should never be used, as much as our bright engineers claim they have all the variables covered with redundancy and fail safe mechanisms. Those currently generating need to be decommissioned, as they end their useful life, or sooner, based on safety audits.  However, there are newer designs, generation IV reactors that hold some promise of being small, scalable, less dangerous and possibly useful for developing countries that have no alternative resources to meet their growing energy needs.  Research should continue on these systems.

Given dangerous climate disruption, it is likely that resulting severe economic disruption will drop demands for energy globally.  Equally, such dramatic shifts in weather may also cause horrendous storms, where winds and floods could impact reactor designs.  Importantly for us here in the southeast is the potential for severe drought, reducing water available for cooling of reactors.  This is what happened in Japan.  The combined earthquake and tsunami knocked their cooling system off line just long enough to allow overheating, explosions and subsequent meltdown.  This could happen with some systems here in the States, high impact, low probability risk.

The pile on to take nukes off the table is an opportunity, just as the BP oil spill was to reduce our fossil fuel dependence.  Sadly, nothing came of that horrendous event last summer.  Was this a failure of “we the addicted to oil” people, or the power of the fossil fuel industry over our leadership?  This event may be repeated.  Given the “out of sight, out of mind” insidious slow death by radiation exposure, the needed public reaction may be muted and fade easily, (like the interest in the march of liberty in the middle-east?).  Maybe we are over exposed to media hype and quickly tire of the sorrow and futility.

Burying nuclear power in the scrap heap of engineering technology may be a good idea, but it has to be placed in perspective of the hubris of humankind’s disconnection with our planet.  Sinking one more penny in outdated technology is one less penny that can be directed (of the limited pennies we have) in the alternative, green economy. We need to keep focus, which is getting money out of politics, getting a carbon tax, the ramp up of alternative energy and the stopping of one more ounce of burned fossil fuel.  Oh yeah, and getting our hearts right, critical…