Triple Pundit’s been getting lots of comments on a post <a href=”http://www.triplepundit.com/pages/magic-beans-for-100-nuclear-power-plants.php”>questioning whether nuclear power plant decommissioning schemes can work in today’s economic climate,</a> and stating that this is a reason NOT to build more nukes.
It’s shocking to see how many nuclear defenders have commented. Back in 1979, I wrote my first book about why nuclear power was a terrible idea, and I remain convinced that it is a terrible path. Decommissioning is only one of dozens of serious problems. Just to name a few:
<li>Waste disposal that requires secure storage for a quarter of a million years
</li><li>Enormous consequences in event of accident, and insurance coverage that won’t even begin to cover claims (thanks to <a href=”http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Price-Anderson_Nuclear_Industries_Indemnity_Act”>a very dubious US law called the Price-
Anderson Act, which both subsidizes the insurance premium and sets wildly unrealistic caps on liability</a>)
</li><li>Poor safety record to date
</li><li>Net power loss over the entire fuel cycle from mining through waste disposal (and transmission to end-users)
</li><li>Susceptibility to terrorist attacks all along the fuel cycle (not just the heavily protected plants themselves)
</li><li>Loss of liberty due to centralization of police-state force to protect the plants
To those who say nonpolluting renewables are just as if not more expensive… 1. Take a look at the work of people like Amory Lovins of the <a href=”http://rmi.org/”>Rocky Mountain Institute</a>, who demonstrates over and over again that when you take a whole-systems approach to locally-grown solar and wind power, economies show up that conventional design and engineering miss completely–like the <a href=”http://www.frugalmarketing.com/dtb/amorylovins.shtml”>ability to eliminate a furnace</a>. 2. Count the true costs of nuclear, without all the subsidies and hiding costs by moving them into other budget streams, and the picture is different.
I put solar hot water on the roof of my 260-year-old farmhouse in cloudy Massachusetts and the system paid for itself in about five years. I admit that the pv system we put in a couple of years later has not performed as well, but I suspect some poor siting choices have much to do with that.
But even so, solar is widely applicable, environmentally inoffensive, and, coupled with an aggressive program of conservation, could remove the “need” for many nuclear and coal plants. The days of centralized power generation and remote transmission to user sites are probably coming to a close; far too much energy is wasted in transmission.
On the conservation side, I happen to have written a short, inexpensive ($9.95) e-book called <a href=”http://painlessgreenbook.com/”>Painless Green: 111 Tips to Help the Environment, Lower Your Carbon Footprint, Cut Your Budget, and Improve Your Quality of Life—With No Negative Impact on Your Lifestyle</a>: – this is stuff you can put into practice immediately, and most of the tips cost nothing or almost nothing.</li>