What’s the status of nuclear power? You don’t hear anything these days about it! I guess the only nation that is building new (nuclear) power plants is France-about 85% of their electricity production is nuclear. What with all the talk about global warming, I would have thought that nuclear is the way to go-no CO2 emissions, and no need to import expensive oil. I’ve always wondered why the environmentalists didn’t approve of nukes-it is much cleaner than coal or oil. In addition (though I am not a nuclear engineer), it seems to me that our 1st generation nukes were all 1950’s designs-surely we can make much safer, more reliable reactors today! I also read that the federal govt. is close to approving the nuclear waste burial site (in Nevada)-that takes care of the waste issue. Another question I’ve always had-the nuclear waste (mostly spent fuel rods) still generate appreciable heat-why don’t we use them to generate hot water? It seems to me that if suitably enclosed and sealed, we could heat a lot of water (for laundries, building heating systems) very cheaply-why don’t we use it (instead of burying it!).

Nuclear power is still alive and “well,” though not as highly publicized–it still gives the tree-huggers fits.

France has a booming nuclear power program in place because they do something the American legislators have effective outlawed in this country: recycle nuclear waste (further reinforcing their status as fools).

Instead, we have to deal with the idiocy of storing hot waste materials that could be re-refined into usable fissionable material.

“If our lives are indeed the sum-total of the choices we’ve made, then we cannot change who we are; but with every new choice we’re given, we can change who we’re going to be.”

It’s still around in the US. They just don’t want to make more plants because its a bitch to clean up.

Like everything else, blame it on Big Oil. They don’t make money from nuclear power.

Nuclear power seens to be popular in the US Navy.

You do know how risky breeder reactors are, right?

I am a technical writer for a non profit organization whose main purpose is to insure reliable electricity to a large part of the midwest. We keep close track of trends in the power industry. Nuclear power has been very cost effective in the past. Many of the nuclear power plants built in the heydey are being decomissioned (or have been decomissioned) around now because they were designed to last until now. Some are being reconditioned. New plants are not being built. This is not because they are thought to be dangerous or unprofitable (well dangerous probably factors in a bit). It is because they are a very large long term investment. The current wisdom is to make smaller shorter term investments. They are safer and leave corporations with more cashflow so that cash is not tied up in case of future investment opportunities.

Thus smaller turbine plants are the rage right now.

Invent a small, cost effective, nuclear power plant. I assure you that you could make trillions.

If men had wings,
and bore black feathers,
few of them would be clever enough to be crows.

  • Rev. Henry Ward Beecher

This is from the Nuclear Regulatory Commission.

In 1997 U.S. net electric generation totaled approximately 3,122 thousand gigawatthours. Nuclear energy accounted for approximately 22 percent of this generation. There are currently 104 commercial nuclear power reactors licensed to operate in 31 States. U.S. electric generating capability totaled approximately 610 gigawatts. Nuclear energy accounted for approximately 14 percent of this capability.

Since 1976, nuclear electric generation has more than tripled and coal-fired generation has nearly doubled, while electricity generated by all other sources has decreased by 24 percent. Electricity from coal and nuclear sources, which accounted for 57 percent of the U.S. generating capability, produced 78 percent of the net electricity generated in 1997.

The U.S. government maintains all kinds of good stuff there for ya.

There is NO doubt that there are some problems w/ Nuclear energy. BUT, there are problems w/ ANY form of electric generation. For example, the much vaunted “clean” wind power= chops thousands of hawks & eagles tp mush every year. There are also potential long term climate changes w/ massive use of wind. Solar: changes the earth’s albedo, potential climate problems. Yea, I would say that wind & solar are safer, but nothings “SAFE”. Nuclear is safer & cleaner than fossil fuels. 10’s of thousands of people die every year from fossil fuels. If we converted all fossil generation to nuclear, we would have to have 2-3 chernobles a year to kill as many.
We need to work on solar more, plus fusion. But until then, nuclear is “safer”.

<Insert RANT here about idiot treehuggers who know nothing about nuclear except that they hate it>

Daniel, you’ve posted quite a few assertions in that one little paragraph. Do you have sources to back up any of them.

[ul][li]“wind power= chops thousands of hawks & eagles tp mush every year.”[/li][li]“10’s of thousands of people die every year from fossil fuels.”[/li]“If we converted all fossil generation to nuclear, we would have to have 2-3 chernobles a year to kill as many.”[/ul]

Another reason could be that nuclear energy scares the piss out of people. (Take it from someone that grew up literally five minutes away from Three Mile Island.)

`They that can give up essential liberty to obtain a little temporary safety deserve neither liberty nor safety’

  • Benjamin Franklin -

Darn it! I thought this topic was going to be about fusion. If it were, the same answer that was valid in 1980 and will be valid in 2020 is also valid today:

Fusion power is only twenty years away.

Nuclear power is up and doing well. I work at a nuclear power plant. The company I work for operates four. Two in North Carolina, one in South Carolina, and one in Florida. The cost to operate a nuclear plant is tremendous. While I do believe it is the cleanest form of power generation, it is extremely government regulated. Almost unbelievably so. The plant I work at has been online for 10 years now, with another 50 years of live span.
The unknown scares people. Not many people want to take the time to learn what goes into the operation of a nuclear plant, so they would rather just not have any more built. We have a lot of fossil fuel plants. If people knew all the facts about both types of plants, they would go with nuclear.

I’ve learned that if someone says something unkind about me, I must live so that no one will believe it.

A few years ago, the family took a little trip and visited the rocket museum at Huntsville, AL. We were amused at 2 signs we saw over and over: Visit Browns Ferry, the safe, clean nuclear power plant; and Browns Ferry Evacuation Route. (or something to that effect, I’ve slept since then)

I do think we ought to use nuclear power as much as possible.

What is the truth behind the rumour that I have heard a number of times about the "water driven car engine’ that was supposedly bought up by Big Oil to save themselves?

Is this a reality? could IT be used to generate power?

"Elmo knows where you live! – Elmo, after Homer stiffed PBS for $10,000
If you need a graphic solution, http:\ alk.to\Piglet

Man…I worked in the nuclear power field for 6 years.(US Navy). I gotta agree with Ultress…it is extremly regimented.It is…IMHO…the cleanest source of power around.If operated correctly by government (NRC) regs and commissions it is also the safest.The MAJOR problem with Nuc Power is the disposal of the waste.That stuff stays hot (contaminated) for a LONG time…We’re talking thousands of years here!I got out of the field because of the Beaurocracy…and the pay wasn’t great.

New nuclear plants aren’t being built because the regulatory structure is insane, and makes it economically unsound.

The primary reason? Unreasoned fear by the public, fuelled in part by massive disinformation campaigns from environmental groups, most of which don’t know what they are talking about anyway. Did you know that coal plants release more radiation into the atmosphere than the maximum allowable NRC limits for nuclear plants? So does Grand Central Station, from natural radioactive decay in the granite.

Waste removal is only a problem because of the insane web of regulations which force nuclear plants to handle it in about the worst way possible. The amount of high-level waste that actually comes out of these plants is extremely low in quantity. If you powered the entire country with nuclear power, the amount of high-level waste collected after 100 years could fit into an area the size of a football stadium.

Three-Mile-Island was a total non-event. The amount of radiation leaked was so small that it was completely irrelevant. If you had been standing right at the perimeter of the facility during the entire duration of the emergency, you would have absorbed about as much radiation as you get from a TV set in a year.

Nuclear power has been a phenomenal technological success. It has supplied the west with a good percentage of its power for decades without a single fatality that I’m aware of. During this time, thousands of people died in coal mining accidents and from black lung disease, and tens of thousands died from emphysema exacerbated by coal emissions. Yet we’re so irrationally scared of it that in a few decades there will be no nuclear reactors left in the U.S.

That’s a tragedy, and the people responsible should be ashamed of themselves.

dhanson: Overall, I share your view of nuclear power; It’s not nearly as dangerous as people think it is.

However your assertion that nuclear power is unpopular because of “Unreasoned fear by the public, fuelled in part by massive disinformation campaigns from environmental groups.” seems disingenous.

As with any serious issue, there tends to be a regrettable lapse from rational discussion into propaganda on both sides of the issue. That doesn’t detract from the issue that radiation is dangerous, and its danger is non-trivial to mitigate. It seems ridiculous to assert that, “Waste removal is only a problem because of the insane web of regulations…” (emphasis added).

And it’s intolerable that you tar the environmentalists with the propaganda brush and then say that, “Nuclear power has supplied the west with a good percentage of its power for decades without a single fatality that I’m aware of.” (emphasis added) I’m not going to go hunt statistics, but this assertion seems ludicrous, if only for Chernobyl.

No matter where you go, there you are.

Oh, and to head off a criticism, Chernobyl is relevant. Claiming that it’s a different story seems to either invoke the no true Scotsman fallacy, or contradict your “insane web of regulations” assertion.

No matter where you go, there you are.

I specifically said “The West”. And you can’t use Chernobyl as a counterexample because it was a grossly unsafe design that has never been used in Western reactors, even in countries with much more lax regulations regarding nuclear power.

The U.S. regulatory structure is simply nuts. New reactors are built constantly all around the world, but not in the U.S. Canada has a great reactor design with built-in safeguards that make meltdown impossible, or nearly so. For instance, instead of using graphite rods to control the reaction, the moderator is part of the coolant, so if the coolant is lost the reactor shuts down automatically.

Sure, nuclear power has risks. I never meant to imply that it was totally risk-free. But creating energy in any concentration always carries an element of risk. Hydro dams can collapse or be destroyed by terrorists. Coal plants pollute the environment significantly.

Even the ‘clean’ energy sources like solar and wind carry high risks. Estimates of deaths from falls due to rooftop solar collection systems run in the thousands of people per year. Solar power plants would have to use battery storage for nighttime usage, and that requires the use of dangerous chemicals in high concentrations.

The demonization of nuclear power is simply totally irrational.

*dhanson: Like I said, overall I agree with you. It’s important, though, to be extra rigorous about your argument and tone when you’re dealing with an issue as emotion-filled as nuclear power.

Scientists lost huge amounts of credibility by grossly underestimating the risks of radiation in the 1940’s and 50’s. The loss of public confidence in their analyses help pave the way for poor quality of the debate today.

When we demonize our opponents, e.g. “massive disinformation campaigns”, “insane web of regulations”, “irrationally scared” you tend to harden your opponents and make it that much more difficult to communicate your message.

No matter where you go, there you are.