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Thomas:
The cost of new nuclear powerplants is obviously not a relevant argument for turning existing nuclear power plants off prior to the end of their design life.

Indeed no. The argument about shutting them down is about safety.

A completely objective assessment of the safety of Europe's nuclear plants is not possible, because you can't buy insurance against a Fukushima type disaster. i.e. there is no rational way to assess whether the risks are justified by the economic benefit.

The reason new nukes are completely unaffordable, and will not be built without sovereign strategic decisions and sovereign financing (whatever fig-leaves may be employed) is that providing a high level of safety is horribly expensive. Pro-nuclear people no doubt believe that the safety standards that are now required are absurdly excessive. But this is demonstrably in the domain of belief.

It is rightly acknowledged that people of faith have no monopoly of virtue - Queen Elizabeth II

by eurogreen on Thu Jul 19th, 2012 at 04:10:22 AM EST
[ Parent ]
"providing a high level of safety is horribly expensive"

A safe nuke is not more expensive than a dangerous nuke. Nukes are expensive, period.

For example, the Fukushima accident would never happened if the plants had been protected by a comparatively cheap 20 metre high seawall.

And even if such a thing was lacking and the plants had indeed suffered core meltdowns, 99.9% of the radioactive emissions would have been avoided if the plants had been equipped by protective filters, cheap and simple enough that all Swedish nukes had them installed in the 80's.

Peak oil is not an energy crisis. It is a liquid fuel crisis.

by Starvid on Thu Jul 19th, 2012 at 10:49:29 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Which suggests that the question is whether one lives in a society in which one can trust its regulatory institutions to require such things. Clearly the Japanese do not. I see little reason to have faith that we Americans do.

I've been accused of being a Marxist, yet while Harpo's my favourite, it's Groucho I'm always quoting. Odd, that.
by BruceMcF (agila61 at netscape dot net) on Thu Jul 19th, 2012 at 10:40:08 PM EST
[ Parent ]
If that is so, you have far more acute problems to deal with than nuclear power or any energy crisis...

Peak oil is not an energy crisis. It is a liquid fuel crisis.
by Starvid on Fri Jul 20th, 2012 at 05:07:58 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Well, we do have both more acute and more serious long term problems than the energy crisis ~ though for the specific area where the breakdown of regulation of nuclear power plants comes home to roost, its both plenty acute and plenty serious long term ~ but over a 50 year period, I do not trust a US institution to remain free of capture by the industry for the whole 50 years. If you could point to a 50 year interval in US history when it had not occured in any given regulatory institution, I'd accept that its possible, but it still wouldn't be likely.

The US has ample sustainable, renewable energy sources that can be tapped with already existing renewable energy harvest technology for all our energy needs, if we adopt a sustainable economy, and if we don't adopt a sustainable economy then having nuclear power isn't going to save us. Our major energy challenge is vested interests standing in the way of abandoning energy profligate systems that they directly profit from.

I've been accused of being a Marxist, yet while Harpo's my favourite, it's Groucho I'm always quoting. Odd, that.

by BruceMcF (agila61 at netscape dot net) on Fri Jul 20th, 2012 at 01:50:21 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Well, we do have both more acute and more serious longshort term problems than the energy crisis...

Namely, are we going to starve to death this coming winter due to massive crop failures...

by asdf on Fri Jul 20th, 2012 at 02:19:20 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Not in the US ~ switching to cereal grain and beans instead of grain-fed industrial farmed meat would keep starvation at bay. That's a flip side of the energy profligacy. What would be at risk would be massive subsidized agribusiness profits, and so the Congress would divert more food stamp budget into direct subsidy to long term unsustainable monoculture.

I've been accused of being a Marxist, yet while Harpo's my favourite, it's Groucho I'm always quoting. Odd, that.
by BruceMcF (agila61 at netscape dot net) on Fri Jul 20th, 2012 at 05:47:52 PM EST
[ Parent ]

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