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Advisor

Japan and the nuclear alternative?

Prior to this week's disastrous events in Japan, even Al Gore was pitching nuclear power as the answer for at least parts of our nation's energy problem.  With a second reactor at that crippled power plant now apparently in at least partial meltdown, the atom has to be getting a black eye as a 'safe' alternative energy source.  (One stat cited in the reports this weekend says that 20% of nuclear facilities worldwide are sited in seismically active areas...DUH!)

Economic stagnation has relieved the pressure on electric utilities for the present, and probably for a pretty good while; but, we will eventually need more grid supply, someday.  I find myself wondering what the US will turn to for its alternative.

Are you guys still seeing the ongoing Midwest wind farm development you write a lot about here a couple of years ago?  Haven't heard much recently.  Is that because the economy has slowed the progress of construction, or just that it's become so commonplace, no one mentions it anymore?

Right now, Japan looks like Godzilla has risen from the sea, and ravaged it. I always sort of felt that the beast was a symbol of something else, anyway. 

As a plannign officical for our county, I wangled my way into a wind power workshop a couple of  years ago, focused mostly on potential offshore wind zones in the Albemarle-Pamlico Sounds region, which is state waters, so skirts around FERC.  Some of our electric coops are chomping at the bit for that...we're supposed to have the equivalent of 10-12 modern nuclear plant's capacity in untapped wind in the Sounds alone. 

Just wondered today what you guys are seeing still going on or at a standstill in energy development in your region.  Chernobyl was in a cloistered nation in a different era.  Three Mile Island was in a high-profile place, but turned out not as totally disastrous as feared. 

After this week, I think nuclear will be a harder sell than ever before, after watching meltdown, mass evacuations, and radiation sickness fears on realtime media streams.  What do you think? 

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61 Replies
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Veteran Advisor

Re: Japan and the nuclear alternative?

Kay I am not sure that The disaster that hit Japan is one that we can take and extrapolate the answer on Nuke energy from. First America is a very large place. Many of the Nuclear plants could and should be housed well off the coast.  

Second in spite of all our contingencies stuff happens. You can not plan for an 8.9 earthquake or a 31 fott wall of water. IF it happens KYAGB!  The long term effect isn't on how safe is Nuke Power. it actually should show us it is very safe. I have seen pics of oil tanks full of crude that were crushed. No one is saying we shouldn't use oil because of the likelihood of a tsunami. The biggest deal in Japan won't be power plants it will be that the infrastructure to get the electricity to folks is gone. And this isn't an ice storm that knocks out power this is a wave which washed away whole communities. To watch the video of the destruction makes us see how insignificant we are. The end result is that much of this space is years away from being built into. The ground itself isn't even able to have work done on it for months. In some cases just like in Australia it may be years before the water even subsides.  I still think we have weeks before we can even begin to measure the destruction. any correlation to those left behind is coincidental at best and is not wise to plan our lives around.

Many from religious groups, to environmentalists, to gov. officials will use this disaster to draw conclusions which shouldn't be drawn. Yet so many will think that somehow we can plan a life without risk.  We can't!  More regs from the throne of chaos in DC. won't prevent this stuff!

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Advisor

Re: Japan and the nuclear alternative?

Precisely my point..won't we see NIMBY use this disaster as an example of why nuclear plants should not be built, period? 

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Senior Advisor

Re: Japan and the nuclear alternative?

NIMBY has been a real talking point on many fronts from ag and energy---where you have excess wind one finds few consumers or the "will to build" the infrastructure to take it to the customer---mostly "bean counter mentality" stopping many projects due to the fact they won't positive cash flow immediately or people become skeptics because of the "non performance'' of promises made that we won't pollute or stink you out with no remedy in sight----also remember at public utility in the state of Washington was financially turned upside down when the cost over run on a nuclear plant doubled before it was even near completion----baggage like this is far from positive and causes the NIMBY---hopefully the disaster will be averted ! !

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Advisor

Re: Japan and the nuclear alternative?

News tonight says six reactors are in trouble...two partially melted down, and a third at the first site is going sour.  They are attempting to cool them with seawater pumped by fire engines...so, shoestring, desperate measures. 

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Senior Advisor

Re: Nuclear energy is so efficient

That we are almost willing to ignore the problems of nuclear waste and fire up even more plants. Then an event like the one in Japan happens and it can rapidly throw cold water on that option. One has to consider what a tragedy could happen by one or more meltdowns.

 

I have often wondered about Nuclear power units put in deep water like a nuclear submarine and piping the energy to shore. If we can dock in outer space, we can surely dock underwater to transport workers back and forth.

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Senior Advisor

Re: Nuclear energy is so efficient

The southeast just had a severe drought---Atlanta about drained a couple of big lakes north of them---the water needed to cool nuclear is"" staggering"" when everything is operational----

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Advisor

Re: Japan and the nuclear alternative?

Kay, wind farms are going up and one is near the construction phase in my neck of the woods.  The key to survivability in any disaster is diversity and redundancy.  Plus choosing a site that's not vulnerable to a doomsday incident. 

 

That's both from a site perspective when siting a nuclear reactor and from a resource perspective.  There should not be one industry or important governmental/business that would be destroyed or seriously damaged by a catastrophe.  Didn't 9/11 tell us anything about that?  Think of all the businesses that were headquarted in those twin towers that lost their entire senior staff and key personnel.  In this age of digital computers and the ability to communicate with anyone at anytime and anyplace in the world, this should not be an insurrmountable problem.

 

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Highlighted
Advisor

Re: Japan and the nuclear alternative?

   This disaster will give the anti-nuke crowd another bullet in their gun.  Could set the expansion of nuclear energy back another generation.

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Senior Advisor

Re: Japan and the nuclear alternative?

Describe anti-nuke---kind of a general statement I would say---I have talked with a gentleman who has worked with this type of power for a number of years and Japan has the most advanced safety measures ---still not all bases covered---will see if lessons learned will be calculated into new safety lessons applied---not easy to un-crack the egg ??

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