|Eco-friendly cooling towers emit only water vapor not smog :)|
No surprises here, the primary opposition to nuclear is funded by big coal, big gas and big oil. These fossil fuel industries are frightened of clean, cheap, sustainable nuclear energy and electric vehicles because they threaten the business model of the brown carbon energy businesses.
Collectively the fossil fuel industry has spent billions of dollars bending the media wheels to scare the general public by stigmatizing the word "nuclear" with zealot sensationalized disinformation campaigns. The public fears what they do not understand. The vast majority of lay persons don't know the difference between an electron and an alpha particle. They have no idea that we are constantly exposed to background radiation.
Large doses of ionizing radiation over short periods of time absolutely causes sickness. No one is saying that radiation is safe. "The dose is the difference between a medicine and a poison" the saying goes in pharmacology and nutrition.
Chromium for example, as a trace mineral is an essential nutrient in the human diet. But humans only need a tiny dose of chromium daily to support their bodies needs. Selenium is another substance like this. A small amount is needed for normal cell function, but any more than a small dose is toxic.
Some radiation is more toxic then others. Alpha radiation is weak and slow, a piece of notebook paper can block alpha radiation. Beta radiation is slightly stronger and faster, but a thin sheet of aluminum foil can stop beta radiation. Gamma radiation is the most energetic and dangerous kind. Several inches of lead are required to stop gamma radiation.
Nuclear fuels are very compact and therefore easier to manage. A small fuel cylinder bundle 4inchs in diameter and 20inches long in a CANDU reactor creates over a billion watt hours of power. This fuel bundle is totally recyclable and can be made from natural uranium, slightly enriched uranium, spent nuclear fuel from a conventional LWR reactor, recycled uranium from reprocessing, actinide fuels from reprocessing, plutonium from reprocessing, and thorium. The fuel for this kind of reactor is thus not only flexible, its extremely cost effective. Some high level nuclear waste is generated, but it is compact and easy to deal with if most of the fuel is recycled. Compare this with coal power emissions and solid wastes.
The mining of uranium is an environmental problem like all mining activities. This is why recycling nuclear fuel is so important. Like all rare metals, recycling nuclear metals makes sense for a lot of reasons. Right now, it is illegal to recycle spent nuclear fuel in the United States because the idiots in power are scared of what they do not understand.
Reasons for Nuclear Power
Worldwide electricity shortages, fossil fuel price increases, global warming and heavy metal emissions from coal burning are providing solid well grounded reasons for new nuclear energy.
Fossil fuel use is an air quality and thus public health problem. We import fossil fuels from foreign countries that hate America. We are forced to trade for oil with countries that sponsor terrorism and human rights violations. When we burn fossil fuels, the smog forming emissions released are directly bad for the health of people breathing them.
In the nuclear electric model of the future, electric vehicles will require a lot of energy from the grid. We cannot ethically add more coal power plants to the grid because of the toxic emissions from coal power. Where coal power is cleaned up with advanced emissions controls, the costs are so absurd that coal becomes a loser.
Adding more nuclear power along with alternative energy sources like wind and solar and geothermal is the key to addressing our future energy problems. Nuclear power plants can be used to produce hydrogen from water in a cost efficient way that will enable reasonable hydrogen fuel prices. Right now, hydrogen made from natural gas cost about $14/gallon equivalent. With nuclear hydrogen, hydrogen prices can come down to around $4/gal.
Future nuclear plants are far cleaner and more efficient than the aging nuclear facilities with all of the problems. Our old nuclear reactors were only designed with a 30 year life time. Furthermore our failure to recycle spent nuclear fuel is creating a waste handling problem. Modern nuclear plant designs recycling the fuel onsite and produce 10 times less waste output, and %40 more electrical power per unit of spent fuel produced.
Modern nuclear plants are far safer and far more robust than older designs. Nuclear fuel reprocessing technology offers great long term fuel options where thorium is blended in.
Thorium is a very abundant nuclear fuel, thousands of times more abundant than uranium.
Geological storage of spent unrecoverable nuclear waste makes rational sense. Other technologies can be developed to harness the energy from highly reactive nuclear waste.
The media is right about the old aging reactors. Many of them need to be maintained more carefully, many others need to be shut down and recycled.
We need new, intelligent, safe, clean, sustainable, fuel recycling nuclear power : not more coal, gas and oil.
Technology is the solution to our fossil fuel problem. Nuclear offers the kind of power levels we need to displace dirty coal power from our grid. We need to move forward with science and rational understanding, not fear from misleading propaganda.
Energy production from coal, oil and natural gas have caused far more deaths due to accidents. Fossil fuels are what we should be afraid of, not nuclear power.
I found a great blog post on this subject recently:
I love wind and solar power, but they simply do not produce uninterrupted power 24 hours a day: solar only works well when the suns energy gets to the panels. Wind only works well when the wind is blowing. Hydro is great in terms of its ability to throttle in response to changing demand. The primary reason I support nuclear is because I hate coal power. I hate the toxic crap that coal plants emit 24 7. I don't want to eat food dusted in coal power emissions. I don't want to drink water contaminated with coal power emissions. I see the destructive impacts of coal mining on the environment in the USA and its makes me sick. I support nuclear energy as a technology to replace coal power. Nuclear is cleaner, safer and far more sustainable than coal power if nuclear is done well.
The recent events in Japan are a sad reminder of what poorly managed nuclear power systems can do. They did not build the plants to withstand the hazards in the area in which the plants were constructed: that is stupid! Don't get me wrong, I like Japan. I just don't like that their poor choices with nuclear are having a negative effect on nuclear energy overall. People need the facts, not sensationalized news propaganda that fosters ignorant fear.