Feel free to correct me if I am wrong, but I want to know why not nuclear energy as a solution to the fossil fuels issue.

Don't get me wrong, I support wind, earth, water whatever natural more environmentally solutions long term to get us off of whatever limited resources we have on this planet. But those technologies still seem to me to be several years away, and still need serious R&D.

But why is nuclear not looked at as a solution?

We have built great feats of engineering...

Hoverdam, The Chunnel, Bridges that run across great expanses. We engineer very well as a species. We have even left the planet on a few occasions.

We understand Electro Magnetism and Radiation to a degree that we use it safely in everyday life.

We know the dangers and we can engineer like nothing else on this planet.

I feel that as a species we could easily contain the waste if we put out minds to it.

There must be plenty of old metal mines (nickel, lead, copper, gold...) lining the Canadian shield for example. Your telling me that we cannot build a completely contained leak proof unit at the base of one of those for containment. Put a big marker up, some guards who understand what they are guarding.

As far as I understand the other major byproduct of nuclear is heat. We deal with heat all the time, that should simply be a matter of good engineering.

So I am curious, is does anyone else wonder about this.

I live close enough to the Ontario nuclear reactor that if something happened (not that anything would) I might be in the fallout zone (probably depending on winds). I still think that getting us off of oil and coal sooner is a better idea then waiting it out until the alternative energy catch-up in terms of requirement.

No matter how much we reduce we will still consume energy as a species, to stop would be to stop progress itself. We have come to far to turn back now I feel, why not take and embrace a ready solution at hand.

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Comment by John Secular Smith on September 22, 2009 at 9:18pm
Yes, the problems with nuclear power are very overstated. Consider this: if nuclear power was somehow unreliable or overly dangerous or "bound to explode eventually" then explain to me how a big chunk of the United States navy is nuclear powered. Are seamen on nuclear subs dropping like flies? How about aircraft carriers?

The waste problem is a serious problem that can be addressed, but I think it is a small problem compared to global warming. I figure nukes can fill the energy need for the next 50 to 100 years and hopefully by then will have enough renewable/fusion/orbital power that we won't need the dirty nukes anymore.
Comment by JayBarti on August 9, 2009 at 3:57pm
So I am not crazy then, I work for a very liberal paper and when there is an article about alternatives and solutions to the energy, nuclear always get shat on.

I can't read the articles much after the first paragraph because it usually is based on some unverifiable gross mis-exaggeration. I keep thinking I must be missing some critical piece of information, that makes it such a terrible option.
Comment by Dave Rogers on August 8, 2009 at 10:30pm
My brother works for Westinghouse as a on-site project manager. There are lots of new plants in various stages of licenses/construction in the US right now. He's up to his neck in work. I've cut and pasted this from the NRC:

According to the Nuclear Regulatory Commission there are 21 separate Expected New Nuclear Power Plant Applications in the U.S. for 32 nuclear power units over the 2007-2009 period. [1]
http://www.nrc.gov/reactors/new-licensing/new-licensing-files/expected-new-rx-applications.pdf
Comment by Joey on August 8, 2009 at 10:23pm
The fuel byproducts are produced in fairly small amounts (about 3 cubic meters per year) but are extremely dangerous. The reason environmental groups tend to oppose nuclear reactors is because once it became a widespread privatized system, the companies that owned them would be allowed to do pretty much whatever they wanted. Conservatives would scream bloody murder about liberals trying to raise the cost of power by fining any company for improper disposal. (See coal mining companies.)

So once a republican president decided the stuff wasn't all THAT bad for us and relaxed the standards (which happens with everything else) and a company dumped a load of it in the river, it'd sit around being deadly for a thousand years. You know, like the last one did with mercury and perchlorate.
Of course it's possible to reduce the amount and how deadly the waste is, but it costs money. Once nuclear power plants were the norm, the owners would have the collective power to start bargaining down how "deadly" the stuff is and how the laws require them to deal with it.

That said, I'm actually very much in favor of nuclear power. We'd just have to make sure the laws on disposal of waste and dumping heated water were never relaxed.

@Mike:
The reason the waste problem is so overstated is because most people hear "We've accumulated 50,000 tons of nuclear waste." (in 2007) and it sounds like it's enough to kill everyone in the country twice over. It's actually about 6000 cubic meters...Not even enough to fill a medium sized shed.

I know my argument was mostly US centric. It wasn't so much because I'm from the US as because I know exactly which country is most likely to allow people to dump stuff in a river when it became inconvenient to dispose of it properly. We do it with everything else.
Comment by Mike Hein on August 8, 2009 at 4:31pm
Well, of course, you're correct. For baseload power, there is nothing that compares to nukes. They run at 95%+ capacity factors, strangely have fewer moving parts than a coal plant, and of course are entirely clean regarding emissions. The waste problem is grossly overstated. The French generate more than 1/2 their power with nuclear and sit in the catbird seat when considering carbon credits and electricity bills in the future.

In the US (and Canada), 'environmentalists' killed the nuclear industry after the largely non-event of 3-Mile Island gave them the excuse they always wanted. Now, they keep the industry down with a series of phantom concerns like terrorism and uranium supply, preying on people's lack of knowledge about how a nuclear plant actually works. When rolling blackouts start hitting the US (and Canada...and parts of Mexico on our transmission grid), we will be able to thank the environmental lobby for this. Partial credit in the blame column will also go the hypocrite Al Gore who along with President Clinton, could have used all that tax revenue to actually encourage energy development in nuclear and in carbon emissions control for coal plants.

Now it's frankly too expensive and the permitting process is almost impossible to build a nuke because again, the 'environmentalists' will take them to court every step of the way.

Whoa....it's my job to analyze power and environmental data and I felt the need to rant. Sorry bout that.

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