"Nuclear power is a potential safety threat, *if* something goes wrong. Coal-fired power is *guaranteed* destruction, filling the atmosphere with planet-heating carbon when it operates the way it's supposed to". (Bill McKibben)
Same for fossil gas, by the way.
@kravietz Nuclear power is guaranteed destruction as well… Creating nuclear waste lasting for centuries and other than CO2, we don't even have a remote idea on how to get rid of it.
And no, hiding it in the ground is not a great answer as all temporary depots have shown.
I think we have to come up with better solutions there.
@sheogorath This is simply not true. Amount of waste from nuclear fission is so microscopic that it can be bottled in hermetic containers, as in this storage in Switzerland. Then it can be reused in breeder reactor, or vitrified in glass blocks and stored in bunkers. And in 100 years it loses 90% of its activity.
@kravietz Well, then you still have a problem, according to the place you are talking about those containers are only made to be used for 40 years. And there is a lot of work going on, just to take care of those containers. Not to mention that it's also just a temporary place.
@sheogorath Correct, because used fuel cannot be stored underground while it still emits heat. That's why it's kept in temporary containers for 10 years and then either reprocessed or vitrified and stored underground.
@kravietz Where AFAIK the latter is still not figured out yet. Doesn't sounds great to me, we produce waste we have no place for yet.
And the history of how this waste was handled is also not really promising. From just throwing it into the water to not properly sealed locations and worse, everything around. Is that really what we want to do?
@sheogorath Then, nuclear *fusion* does not create any radioactive waste and ITER is now scheduled to go first plasma in 2025.
@kravietz Well, fusion is definitely the hope, but looking at its history, I don't think it's on time to save us from climate change.
Given that ITER is successful, we would have left less than 3 years to bring it out of Prototype status, build production halls, and rollout facilities around the world.
But only when scientists didn't get things wrong (which turns out, they might did due to north pole melting) and we produce less or equal CO2 than 2018, which also is not the case.
You're perfectly right in that we need carbon-free economy ASAP. But that's the point of nuclear exactly: it's the *only* carbon free and scalable energy source we have today.
Solar and wind - investment costs are huge due to low efficiency (15-40%), and they can't work alone due to intermittent nature. Technologies to deal with that are at the same stage as ITER - a decade away.
@sheogorath So for example France did just that using nuclear and renewables. Their energy related CO2 emissions are below 100 gCO2eq/kWh - last week they were below 50 even.
Germany scared itself to death with nuclear, and closed still operational plants, switching instead to coal and fossil gas. Their emissions are usually 3-6x worse than France.
In terms of decarbonization, France closed its last coal plant in 2007, while Germany just *opened* a new one thus year.
@kravietz Well, in Germany I agree the situation is a bit weird. But not really for technical but more for bureaucratic reasons. The number of new wind power plants last year is on a historical low due to appeals of citizens and a whole state blocking it. Reduction of subsidies for renewable energies in general and further subsidizing of coal-based energy sources.
So yes, there has to change something, but I don't think towards nuclear power plants.
Certainly no more nuclear power in Germany, because society is so terrorized by the Greens that no rational arguments are going to work until that generation passes away so another 20 years.
@pro @kravietz So, I just spend some time reading about full cycle nuclear power strategy and the first thing that sticks out is: Even for the "little" amount of nuclear waste that France produces, it has no final destination.
And another point I came across, due to the "statistics being an asshole the risk of an incident increases drastically with every new power plant, The incidents of Fukushima and Chernobyl were no exceptions, they were statically "expectable".
I mean if you want to live with the risk, fine, go ahead. But please somewhere not even remotely close to me? like further away than Chernobyl, because we still had their nuclear cloud over here and are still recommended to not collect mushrooms in the forest, due to this nonsense.
You correctly noted that you "don't know". This is unfortunately part of the extremely biased disinformation package provided by Greens.
1975 - Banqiao dam distaster in China killed *230'000* people
Some died of impact and drowning, some of famine and diseases caused by contamination of the land.
Solar panels are catching fire as result of overheating or short circuits. Workers in solar and wind industry die as result of electrocution or fall from large heights.
But nobody talks about it because "solar and wind are nice and clean"! If a single worker breaks his ankle in a nuclear plant all world is suddenly concerned about their safety...
@sheogorath @pro Here are some case studies of fatal accidents in solar industry https://www.cdph.ca.gov/Programs/CCDPHP/DEODC/OHB/FACE/Pages/Solar.aspx
And obviously, we should not panic around that because *every* human activity can potentially result in harm and death. Keeping them safe is a task for healt & safety. The problem is that accidents in nuclear industry are singled out and presented as something immensely dangerous and deadly, when they are not.
The number of people that are at least subject of a nuclear incident is by a magnitude of hundred thousands when not millions higher than the number of even hundreds of solar or wind industry incidents.
And we can safely expect another incident within the next 15-20 years.
No, we cannot. Because accidents happened to old reactors built and operated in risky locations, and the industry has learned from it.
Nothing that happened in Chernobyl and Fukushima can ever happen in any reactor operated in France, UK or Germany, because they were built specifically to be safe.
Note that even Russia, with its long tradition of negligence, had no nuclear power safety accidents since Chernobyl.
An example for this is the 1999 incident: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Blayais_Nuclear_Power_Plant#1999_flooding
The current ASM report from 2018 talks a lot about improvements that were done after Fukushima, which shows that there is still room for improvement.
By the way, the point of the statistic is not that an incident will happen the same way as in Fukushima, but with a similar impact.
@kravietz @pro True, those can happen, and they do happen, but considering the environmental impact and the regulations that those project have regarding cleanness of water in Europe mean even the worst incident won't cause a wasteland. Like with a Tsunami people will die, people will flee but as soon as it's over they will come back and start living there. That not so much the case directly around Chernobyl or Fukushima even after decontamination.
It's not true - a flood in the first place fills up sewers, water treatment plants, farms etc so the sediment after a flood is essentially a mix of human and animal crap, animal corpses, dead fish etc. You can't just "come back and start living", houses need to be cleaned, sterilized, repainted and in some cases demolished and rebuilt. Cars can be only scrapped as they smell shit and fish.
https://de.wikipedia.org/wiki/Liste_von_Stauanlagenunf%C3%A4llen (sorry for the german here again, but the english version doesn't list a lot of european incidents)
Looking those incidents, non of these ended with "and the area became impossible to settle again". Basically all were solved in a no time. Sometimes villages have moved, but that's pretty much it.
The problem with nuclear power are not direct death numbers, but the long term environmental impact. From deformities, to reduced life expectations to no longer usable land areas. I'm not sure which study you are quoting, but I don't expect them to calculate those impacts in there.
This is all covered by medical research after nuclear accidents. In case of Fukushima there was 1 fatality, in case of Chernobyl - 200 (over 20 years). All that included cancer, early death, birth defects etc.
In many cases suspicious diseases are blamed on nuclear without conclusive evidence, as it was with a spike of leukemia near Sellafield nuclear processing plant in UK back in 80's. Media were quick to jump to conclusion that the plant is KILLING OUR CHILDREN!!! etc
There was no evidence for that - and there were similar spikes of leukemia in other parts of UK, very far from any nuclear facilities. But when people are biased and they *want* to blame something/someone, they don't care about evidence.
Only in 2000's new research found cause to be regular bacterial infections. These places like Sellafield were always quite isolated and people living there had low immunity against more exotic pathogens.
@kravietz @pro The WHO talks about slightly different number around a few thousand that are impacted in form of cancer but with no clear diagnose whenever this is caused directly due to radiation of due to bad lifestyle. (That's the ugly thing about radiation)
And a lot of cancer cases were solvable by surgery but people have to take meds for their entire life. The mortality itself is not really the full picture of the problem with nuclear power, as I mentioned before.
When it comes to coal, we also have the whole mining process, which has a huge and negative impact on the environment. But even there I consider the impact of those things lower than the impact of a nuclear power plant incident in Germany. Be it due to natural disaster or human error.
What we need to do is getting this Bureaucracy sorted out.
@kravietz @pro Anyway, it was definitely an interesting discussion we had. I really enjoyed it. Even when it just made me even less certain about the world wide usage of nuclear power. The MIT even suggests that there are 4 major incidents in the timespan from 2004 to 2053 (and at least 1 with Fukushima was there).
It's a weird piece of technology. As someone who hates gambling, not really my world. Still hope we can all figure this energy/environment problem out together quite soon :)
Again, nothing comes for free. Wind and solar manufacturing requires rare earth metals, which are... mined.
And as they are mined, they release waste that is... radioactive due to natural radium and thorium content.
And this *too* has environmental impact https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mountain_Pass_rare_earth_mine#Environmental_impact
But again, nobody wants to hear about it because "solar and wind are so clean".
Now, as it comes to coal - nobody wants it alone. But everyone wants stable power supply...
So when the villages became visited by many people from outside - because of the plants construction - they started to get these infections. They were not serious, but in small percentage of children they triggered leukemia.
Obviously, it has nothing to do with radiation and it happened in other places with new tourist centers etc. But once again, if you want to blame something, you don't care about evidence.
And this is precisely why people prefer coal plants that kill them slowly over nuclear plants that don't kill anybody, but are "scary".
By the way, coal ash is also radioactive and contaminates ground. All coal plants in Germany alone produce around 8 million m3 of coal waste every month, so over 100 millions of tons per years. And the ash is just stored on heaps, contaminating land and water.
All nuclear plants in all EU produced 6 million m3 of waste ever. But who cares?
I don't read German freely, but I can read graphs fortunately :) So these radiation levels from Chernobyl fallout - at 0.6 mSv per year - are absoutely negligible. Average exposure from natural sources (sun, space radiation, ground etc) is 3 mSv.
To give you a comparison against some real world values: a cigarette smoker gets 160 mSv per year from tobacco alone.
There are ~450 civilian nuclear reactors working all around the world as we speak.
Over the last 50 years there were *two* serious nuclear accidents among these 450 reactors.
One in a 70's military 1st gen RBMK reactor in USSR that was put into melt-down by violating all safety procedures.
Another one in 70's 2nd gen reactor in Japan built in a active seismic zone.
So yes, these two were statistically expected.
The situation in Germany however is not politics really, although it was *caused* by politics.
Politics told grid operators: you must provide stable power supply, and reduce CO2, and no more nuclear.
Grid operators replied: you can only choose two. This is how you ended up with stable power supply based on coal and gas, no nuclear and no CO2 reductions.