Welcome to European Tribune. It's gone a bit quiet around here these days, but it's still going.
This is my issue with nukes - the technology can be made manageably safe, and in a psychologically stable world spent fuel would be nasty but not impossible to contain.

But nukes aren't politically and managerially viable. Too many politicians and managers respond emotionally rather than rationally, they have almost non-existent modelling skills, and their primary aim is always increased personal economic and political power rather than social responsibility.

So nuke technology is a bad match for this psychological profile. There will always be management pressure to cut corners on costs and safety and to maximise profit.

You can pretty much guarantee that in these circumstances, stuff will go boom when stressed.

As for energy needs - I'm finding it difficult to believe that renewables can't completely replace dirty carbon sources within a decade or two. Between wind, tidal, hydro and both kinds of solar - and combined with smarter grids and better efficiency - the only reason for continuing to build nukes is political inertia.

I'd consider allowing some nuke development as a stop-gap providing the design is absolutely fail-safe and impressively over-specced for safety.

But any technology which isn't absolutely fail-safe with any obvious safety issues of any kind really needs to be scrapped almost immediately.

by ThatBritGuy (thatbritguy (at) googlemail.com) on Sun Jun 12th, 2011 at 03:51:37 PM EST
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How are renewable energy sources not subject to the same political and managerial emotion? Isn't that exactly the source of typical opposition to wind and solar power?
by asdf on Sun Jun 12th, 2011 at 05:25:06 PM EST
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They are. But they don't make nearly as spectacular a kaboom when you fuck them up.

- Jake

Friends come and go. Enemies accumulate.

by JakeS (JangoSierra 'at' gmail 'dot' com) on Sun Jun 12th, 2011 at 05:30:30 PM EST
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They're either inherently fail-safe, or fail-safe is easy to build in.

But this is the big value of renewables done right - compared to dirty carbon, they're massively low-maintenance. Once they're in place they mostly "just work" for the duration of their design life.

Dirty carbon fuels all need active high-maintenance permanent effort. You have to run them 24/7. They don't just sit there producing energy for you.

by ThatBritGuy (thatbritguy (at) googlemail.com) on Sun Jun 12th, 2011 at 06:16:22 PM EST
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Although we're just as guilty of management failure, our meltdowns only affect one-horned goats.

Unlike the Gas People.

Three years before the deadly San Bruno disaster, PG&E received an ominous warning: Its natural gas system, an internal review found, posed a "catastrophic risk." But the utility's management and board of directors failed to take critical steps to reduce the danger.

That telling lapse was one of many disturbing signs that the company's culture had turned "dysfunctional," according to a five-member expert panel picked by the California Public Utilities Commission to look into the explosion. The panel's report, released Thursday, drew headlines for its suggestion that improperly monitored work on a nearby sewer pipe may have led the San Bruno pipe to rupture.

But what may be more important in the long run are the report's insights into how the company operates internally.
While PG&E's stated goal was to be "the leading utility in the United States," the panel faulted the company for being too bureaucratic, lacking management expertise, giving mere lip service to public safety and failing to take measures that might have averted the San Bruno tragedy.

OK, the gas explosion only killed 8 people, and it only calls into question the condition of the gas network, so no big deal.

Except these are the same people who decide our energy future.

"Life shrinks or expands in proportion to one's courage." - Anas Nin

by Crazy Horse on Sun Jun 12th, 2011 at 06:24:21 PM EST
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To be fair, one of the nascent renewables, HDR geothermal, can cause spills and subsidence; and if big hydro is to be counted as renewable, it can cause floods and earthquakes and downstream droughts. Though none of these are really management-related.

*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.
by DoDo on Mon Jun 13th, 2011 at 04:21:31 AM EST
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