No New Nukes is Good Nukes

Encouraging news from the NY Times regarding some environmentalists seeing the light on Nuclear Power:

Old Foes Soften to New Reactors
Several of the nation's most prominent environmentalists have gone public with the message that nuclear power, long taboo among environmental advocates, should be reconsidered as a remedy for global warming.

Their numbers are still small, but they represent growing cracks in what had been a virtually solid wall of opposition to nuclear power among most mainstream environmental groups. In the past few months, articles in publications like Technology Review, published by the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, and Wired magazine have openly espoused nuclear power, angering other environmental advocates.

Stewart Brand, a founder of the Whole Earth Catalog and the author of "Environmental Heresies," an article in the May issue of Technology Review, explained the shift as a direct consequence of the growing anxiety about global warming and its links to the use of fossil fuel.

I wrote about Stuart's article about a month ago here Here is a bit more from the NY Times article:

The changing attitudes are roiling established environmental groups and provoking fierce internal arguments in the United States and in Europe. In this country, some groups used antinuclear campaigns to build membership, financial support and often their fundamental identities back in the 1970's, when Birkenstocks were new and the folksinger Arlo Guthrie was celebrating the antinuclear Clamshell Alliance.

The release of radioactivity at Three Mile Island in Pennsylvania and the catastrophic explosion at Chernobyl in 1986 brought a halt to any thought of expanding nuclear technology in the United States.

Now, groups like Greenpeace U.S.A., the Sierra Club, the World Wildlife Fund and the U.S. Public Interest Research Group argue with one voice that any more time or money spent on nuclear energy would unjustifiably divert resources from more promising solutions, like conservation and renewable energy.

It has been 32 years since the last nuclear reactor was ordered and built in the United States, and 1996 was the last year in which a civilian nuclear reactor - the Tennessee Valley Authority's Watts Bar reactor - was commissioned. Nuclear reactors, almost all of them the first generation of this technology, now provide about 20 percent of electric power in the United States.

Knee-jerk politics and not science. Protecting the hard-won turf. Business as usual.

Take a look at the last paragraph -- we haven't had a new rector come online since 1996, all of the other reactors are older, some dating back to the 1960's. When something as complex as a reactor is being planned, there is about a ten year lag from the first pencil sketches to throwing the big switch. This means that 20% of the power for the USA has been generated by plants that were designed mostly in the '50s and '60s. We had a couple of minor incidents and one major one. Not a bad industrial track record.

Chernobyl should never have happened and the poor idiot who caused it paid with his life. The new breed of reactors are a lot safer and cheaper to build and operate.

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About this Entry

This page contains a single entry by DaveH published on May 14, 2005 9:39 PM.

A most curious loophole was the previous entry in this blog.

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