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Thread: The Nuclear Power debate

  1. #1
    For England and St.George Senior Member ShadesWolf's Avatar
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    Default The Nuclear Power debate

    Reading the Telegraph today and it had a very intersting article about Nuclear power. I have included teh article below for you to read, its a long artilce but well worth a read.



    Without new plants, the share of nuclear generated electricity will fall from 23pc to 7pc by 2020. Nine of Britain's 12 plants are scheduled to be closed in the next 10 years and since it takes at least a decade to plan and build a reactor, decision time for Labour is drawing close.
    The question is what should be do. A will be interested to think of a global debate on this subject as it must be a world wide problem.

    Article in full. Telegraph 21/05/2005


    The history of nuclear power is marked by good intentions abandoned in the face of reality. Twenty-five years ago the environmentally conscious citizens of Sweden voted to phase out their nuclear industry. One reactor was indeed closed down but the lack of an inexpensive alternative led to the deadline being postponed, and now Sweden is Europe's third-largest consumer of nuclear-generated electricity.

    Tony Blair might consider the Swedish experience when he ponders how the UK is going to keep the lights on over the next decades. Britain's only listed nuclear power company, British Energy, is expected to decide in the next five months whether to extend the life of its Dungeness reactor by another five years. But it will be a stop-gap measure. Either way, Britain is about to become a large net importer of energy.

    Without new plants, the share of nuclear generated electricity will fall from 23pc to 7pc by 2020. Nine of Britain's 12 plants are scheduled to be closed in the next 10 years and since it takes at least a decade to plan and build a reactor, decision time for Labour is drawing close.

    The Government's chief scientific adviser, Sir David King, frames the issue in terms of whether renewable energy - mainly wind farms - can replace nuclear. "If it can't, then I would imagine that one further generation of nuclear power stations would be all that would be required," he said last week.

    The nuclear industry sees a national debate looming and the anti-nuclear movement is gearing up for the fight. Labour has left the door open to new plants but is waiting for the results of a review into emissions, which should be complete by the year end.

    Few experts believe the Government's target of cutting carbon dioxide emissions 20pc by 2010 will be met. Figures from the Office for National Statistics this week showed that greenhouse gas emissions started rising in 2003 (the latest in-depth figures available), reversing the downward trend.

    Greenpeace has long been among the most prominent opponents of nuclear power and remains implacably opposed to the notion that it could be good for the environment. The group's senior nuclear campaigner in the UK, Jean McSorley, grew up around nuclear plants - her relatives helped build Sellafield in Cumbria.

    "The primary reason we oppose nuclear power is the nature of reactors, which pose risks from major accidents and produce nuclear materials and waste we don't have anything to do with," she said. "Although nuclear is a lot less CO2 polluting than coal, it is not as CO2 efficient as the industry likes to give the impression of being."

    Greenpeace's worries are worth addressing, given they reflect common fears about nuclear power and that the pressure group has won the propaganda war for public opinion. Safety is acknowledged to be the biggest concern. The problem is that even though the likelihood of a major accident is extremely low, we really don't know how severe the consequences could be.

    The 1986 blast at Chernobyl - from a combination of poor design, sloppy construction and negligent maintenance - was the probably the worst accident imaginable at a nuclear plant. About 45 people died as a result of the explosion but the 1988 Piper Alpha fire claimed 167 lives on the North Sea oil rig, and not one person was lost in America's Three Mile Island reactor leak.

    Greenpeace says it would expect 30,000 deaths over a 30-50 year period from Chernobyl, including many who contracted thyroid cancer as children. Yet, an independent report estimates that the increased chance of cancer in the affected area is 0.1pc over 40 years. If the latter figure is correct, the number of people who have been killed by nuclear power is tiny compared with deaths in other parts of the power industry.

    In British coal mines fatality rates still run at 11 a year per 100,000 employees and show no sign of falling. In Russia, which exports coal to the UK, the death rate is more than twice Britain's. All heavy industries kill people and it is not clear that modern reactors are particularly lethal.

    Nuclear waste has been stored without incident in Britain since the 1950s. Not one person is known to have died from exposure to it and, while the emissions will last thousands of years, most is less radioactive than Cornish rocks.

    Greenpeace's argument on carbon dioxide emissions may be true, but is misleading. Emissions are created when plants are built, like any power project (including wind turbines).

    Once up and running, nuclear plants produce no waste gases, barring those from ships transporting the uranium from Australia or the cars used by employees to get to work.

    The present pollution savings from nuclear are equivalent to removing three-quarters of the UK's cars from the roads.

    Indeed, it is the environmentally friendly argument that nuclear advocates are rallying around. The Government has set itself ambitious targets for cutting back emissions by imposing a carbon tax, and nuclear becomes more financially attractive when a monetary cost is assigned to exhaust gases.

    The Royal Association of Engineers estimates that nuclear-derived electricity is less than half the cost of coal and wind power if emissions are included.

    With Britain's electricity supply about to enter a long decline, nuclear, it would seem, is the optimum solution, being safe, efficient and relatively clean. Yet even if the political problems can be overcome, financial hurdles remain. Analysts warn that the plants' lives are so long - 50 years - that the risks of building are too great for individual companies.

    A recent study by investment bank UBS calculated that nuclear electricity is cheaper than gas as long as oil is above $28 a barrel. (Natural gas prices are closely correlated to the price of oil.) With Brent crude trading close to $50, this makes nuclear highly attractive but nobody knows what the price of oil will be in a year's time, let alone 30 years.

    Given the near-bankruptcy of British Energy, lenders would be reluctant to provide £1.7billion for a reactor that could be unprofitable in a few years time. The financial problems are compounded by huge planning problems. It took six years to approve the Sizewell B reactor in Suffolk.

    The UBS analysts believe a state subsidy or guarantee will be required and suggest that European governments could tighten pollution rules so much that nuclear is the only viable option. One of the questions that needs to be resolved is whether Britain extends the life of existing plants or builds new ones. It may be more risky to extend, given the great technical complexity of British Energy's existing plants.

    And if it only results in plants being built later, the generation of nuclear scientists who build plants in 1980s will have retired before the next plants go up. An important source of knowledge will have been lost. Perhaps the greatest force pushing us towards nuclear power is the growing opposition to wind farms, now the scale of the numbers needed is becoming apparent. As Sir Bernard Ingram has pointed out, a wind farm the size of Dartmoor would be required to match the output of a standard power station, and the UK needs 55 of them.

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  2. #2

    Default Re: The Nuclear Power debate

    Nuclear waste has been stored without incident in Britain since the 1950s.
    Yeah right , so if you forget Windscale then what about Pangbourne ? Or how much compensation did they have to pay Blue Circle for the contamination incident at Aldermaston ? What about the undocumented radioactive waste that was unearthed at Smiths Industries .
    I take it the author has chosen to ignore THORPs closure due to the little incident there last month , which now looks set to become a permanant closure as they cannot access the leak to repair it because of the radioactive contamination .
    Not one person is known to have died from exposure to it
    Yes the official findings are that the clusters of deaths around Nuclear plants that could be attributed to radioactive contamination are really a result of inbreeding , its strange that only people who live near these plants seem to have this strange inbreeding disease

  3. #3
    Humanist Senior Member A.Saturnus's Avatar
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    Default Re: The Nuclear Power debate

    Nuclear waste has been stored without incident in Britain since the 1950s.
    Yeah right , so if you forget Windscale then what about Pangbourne ? Or how much compensation did they have to pay Blue Circle for the contamination incident at Aldermaston ? What about the undocumented radioactive waste that was unearthed at Smiths Industries .
    I take it the author has chosen to ignore THORPs closure due to the little incident there last month , which now looks set to become a permanant closure as they cannot access the leak to repair it because of the radioactive contamination .
    Some quick google searches reveal to me that none of these bear any relevance. Windscale was a plutonium production reactor, Thorp is a reprocessesing plant and Aldermaston is a nuclear weapons production facility. None has anything to do with nuclear waste storage.

    Yes the official findings are that the clusters of deaths around Nuclear plants that could be attributed to radioactive contamination are really a result of inbreeding , its strange that only people who live near these plants seem to have this strange inbreeding disease
    Any relevant figures?

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    Member Member sharrukin's Avatar
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    Default Re: The Nuclear Power debate

    Nuclear power plants are bad for the environment!

    We should go with more coal burning thermoelectric plants, they are much better! Greenpeace would like that!
    "War is an ugly thing, but not the ugliest of things. The decayed and degraded state of moral and patriotic feeling which thinks that nothing is worth war is much worse. The person who has nothing for which he is willing to fight, nothing which is more important than his own personal safety, is a miserable creature and has no chance of being free unless made and kept so by the exertions of better men than himself."
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  5. #5

    Default Re: The Nuclear Power debate

    none of these bear any relevance.
    how so ?
    Thorp is a reprocessesing plant
    reprocessing what , tin cans or Nuclear waste .
    None has anything to do with nuclear waste storage.
    Really ,the Aldermaston incident concerning the Blue Circle headquarters was the result of Nuclear waste stored on site contaminating neighbouring land due to "heavy rainfall" . To top it all off they didn't tell anyone about the contamination until Blue Circle tried to sell its land .

    Since BNFL is now technically bankrupt with liabilities in excess of £41billion can there be any viable future for Nuclear power in Britain .
    Nuclear plants may produce cheap electricity when they are running , but they have huge construction costs and even bigger decommisioning and cleanup costs once they are finished .

    Any relevant figures?
    I will see if I can find one of the reports .

  6. #6
    For England and St.George Senior Member ShadesWolf's Avatar
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    Default Re: The Nuclear Power debate

    But the question is what are we going to do about power.

    Hunsterston B
    Start 1976
    Closer 2011

    Heysham 1
    Start 1984
    Close 2014

    Heysham 2
    Start 1988
    close 2023

    Wylfa
    Start 1971
    Close 2010

    Oldbury
    Start 1968
    Close 2008

    Hinkley B
    start 1976
    Close 2011

    Dungeness A
    Start 1965
    Close 2006

    Dungeness B
    Start 1983
    Close 2008

    Sizewell
    start 1995
    close 2035

    Sizewell A
    start 1966
    close 2006

    Hartlepool
    start 1984
    close 2014

    Torness
    start 1988
    close 2023

    PLANNED Closures

    2006 - 2
    2007 - 0
    2008 - 2
    2009 - 0
    2010 - 1
    2011 - 2
    2012 - 0
    2013 - 0
    2014 - 2
    2015 - 0

    So in the next three year four will close, and by 2015 (ten years time) Nine of the twelve will have closed. Currently 23% of electricity comes from nuclear power, by 2015 this will be down to 7%.

    add to that the fact that it takes approx ten years to plan/ build a nuclear power station and that the scientists who built the plants in the 80's will have retired, SO WHAT DO WE DO ?
    ShadesWolf
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  7. #7
    Humanist Senior Member A.Saturnus's Avatar
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    Default Re: The Nuclear Power debate

    Quote Originally Posted by Tribesman
    none of these bear any relevance.
    how so ?
    The statement you attacked was that nuclear waste storage is unproblematic in Britain. To back up your attack you should produce examples of nuclear waste storage that were problematic. Since none of the incidents you named are examples of nuclear waste storage, your argument is ignoratio elenchi.

    Thorp is a reprocessesing plant
    reprocessing what , tin cans or Nuclear waste .
    The point is that the waste was reprocessed and not stored. It's no more an example of nuclear waste storage than Hiroshima.

    None has anything to do with nuclear waste storage.
    Really ,the Aldermaston incident concerning the Blue Circle headquarters was the result of Nuclear waste stored on site contaminating neighbouring land due to "heavy rainfall" . To top it all off they didn't tell anyone about the contamination until Blue Circle tried to sell its land .
    I didn't know that. However, this has only a sematical association. When we speak of nuclear waste storage we mean burying nuclear waste in an appropriate facility like a mine in order to get rid of it. The nuclear waste was not stored in Aldermaston for savity but to produce nuclear weapons. Consequently this storage was more risky than normal storage facilities. But that is a price you have to pay if you want weapons of mass destruction.

    Nuclear plants may produce cheap electricity when they are running , but they have huge construction costs and even bigger decommisioning and cleanup costs once they are finished .
    But they are also cleaner than realistic alternatives.

  8. #8
    probably bored Member BDC's Avatar
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    Default Re: The Nuclear Power debate

    Basically we're screwed. Nuclear power (no greenhouse gases, radioactive waste we can't deal with), coal or oil or gas (oil and gas won't be around forever so we will be in same boat in 20 years, and coal pollutes a lot) or other renewables (mostly use more energy to manufacture than will ever produce, and are unreliable so you need backup tradition reactors anyway).

    Bring on fusion I say! *hopes*

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    For England and St.George Senior Member ShadesWolf's Avatar
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    Default Re: The Nuclear Power debate

    I was reading in todays Express that it would take thousands of wind turbines to replace one Nuclear power station, So it will be interesting to see how we solve this problem.

    Also bring into the equation that the UK's demand for electric increases by 2% per year.
    ShadesWolf
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  10. #10
    Chief Sniffer Senior Member ichi's Avatar
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    Default Re: The Nuclear Power debate

    There are problems with each mode of production. For example

    thousands of wind turbines to replace one Nuclear power station
    wind turbines are death zones for birds and bats, which may seem minor but the numbers are amazing and the role of birds and bats in ecosystems is a major one.

    The secret isn't which tool we use, its how smart we use it.

    Chernobyl serves as a lesson - do nuclear poorly and it will cost more than its worth. Do it right and might be safe.

    ichi
    Stay Calm, Be Alert, Think Clearly, Act Decisively

    CoH

  11. #11
    For England and St.George Senior Member ShadesWolf's Avatar
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    Default Re: The Nuclear Power debate

    Chernobyl serves as a lesson - do nuclear poorly and it will cost more than its worth. Do it right and might be safe
    Yes the worry is as per Chernobyl, things get old and we keep on using them, someday they will faul and thats when the problems happen. Some of the UK Nuclear power stations have options to extend the lifes by upto 5 years. Which is a real worry.
    ShadesWolf
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  12. #12
    Member Member ah_dut's Avatar
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    Default Re: The Nuclear Power debate

    Quote Originally Posted by ShadesWolf
    Yes the worry is as per Chernobyl, things get old and we keep on using them, someday they will faul and thats when the problems happen. Some of the UK Nuclear power stations have options to extend the lifes by upto 5 years. Which is a real worry.
    This country is very tightly regulaterd imho...I don;t think we'll have any chernobyls here as we dont have plants with positive void co-efficients...ahh the usless things you learn for Geography tests

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