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Power Earth Japan Science Politics

Americans Favor Moratorium On New Nuclear Reactors 964

An anonymous reader writes "While a drop in public support for nuclear power would be expected after an incident like the Fukushima reactor crisis, the nuclear disaster in Japan has triggered a much stronger response among Americans. When Japan — the nation that President Obama held up as an example of safe nuclear power being used on a large-scale basis — is unable to effectively control its considerable downside, Americans are understandably leery about the same technology being used even more extensively in this nation. And safety concerns about the existing nuclear plants also deserve serious attention."
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Americans Favor Moratorium On New Nuclear Reactors

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  • So uh (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Anrego ( 830717 ) * on Monday March 28, 2011 @08:12AM (#35637214)

    Seeing a large nuclear disaster has made people wary of nuclear power.. now that's just shocking!

    All seriousness though, between the American media fear mongering and the fact that there is actually something to be afraid of, this isn't too surprising.

    I still personally think that nuclear power is the best bet. I imagine (and this is an uneducated opinion) all the junk coal and oil plants pump out under regular circumstances is probably going to kill more people than the japan nuclear crisis over the long run, and alternative energy just isn't close enough for people to wait.

  • by Electricity Likes Me ( 1098643 ) on Monday March 28, 2011 @08:14AM (#35637234)

    With something like 20% of the US's electricity presently coming from nuclear power and *all* of those reactors approaching or already past their lifespan, all those Americans need to decide what exactly they want to replace them with.

  • Number (Score:5, Insightful)

    by xnpu ( 963139 ) on Monday March 28, 2011 @08:14AM (#35637238)

    While certainly worrisome, please keep in mind:

    * Nobody has actually died from this incident yet. (Versus regular deaths in coal mines, etc.)
    * The incident can be learned from and other reactors can be improved accordingly. (Again versus the situation in many coal mines, etc. which are unlikely to see any further improvement.) In fact, many claim the risks of these particular reactors were known but not acted upon, something which can be handled with stricter rules.

  • Or... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Spad ( 470073 ) <slashdot.spad@co@uk> on Monday March 28, 2011 @08:15AM (#35637244) Homepage

    Poorly informed people, lead by sensationalist news stories, when asked leading questions, will give obvious answers.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday March 28, 2011 @08:16AM (#35637256)

    moratorium, until we have at least a 20% wind power and 10% solar power in the energy mix.

    What? Do you think that a truck rolls up and sets up the ACME Nuclear Power Station and they're rock'in? It takes years for a nuke plant to come on line. In the meantime, the solar and wind and whatever will have to be developed and implemented.

    This just disgusts me. The ignorant public (who can blame them since all their info is from TV and shit websites) will keep nuclear on the sidelines for decades.

  • Makes no sense (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Monday March 28, 2011 @08:19AM (#35637280)

    If one were especially worried about certain classes of mishap, it would make far more sense to favour replacing existing reactors as soon as possible. For example, modern convectively-cooled PWR designs are not subject to the kind of cooling failure that occurred in Japan when external power was lost. Not allowing the construction of new plants is the worst of both worlds; the older designs continue to operate at a lower level of safety than new ones would, yet we're still forced to look to coal and gas as our energy needs grow. And not building new plants does nothing to address the problems associated with storage of spent fuel and other waste, which as seen in Japan and fought over for years in the US and elsewhere is a far greater problem than the operational safety of even the oldest BWRs. Fish or cut bait.

  • by Amiralul ( 1164423 ) on Monday March 28, 2011 @08:20AM (#35637300) Homepage
    I find it amusing how US media is worried about Fukushima nuclear contamination of Japan and surrounding arrea, including US territories or... Europe. They seem to forgot hundreds of nuclear tests made by the US both in Pacific and continental US. I wonder which event released more radioactive material in the atmosphere, a few hundreds nuclear test or the damaged reactors from Fukushima? (and I'm not even considering detonations over Hiroshima and Nagasaki).
  • by Chas ( 5144 ) on Monday March 28, 2011 @08:25AM (#35637348) Homepage Journal

    Yup. Due to the news media's disgusting exaggeration of the event, , and the 60+ years of "all radiation = bad = kill you dead", a bunch of people who don't understand a thing about nuclear power generation from the 60's, let alone modern reactor technologies are going to browbeat the power industry into the least effectual, most expensive forms of power generation. And it'll be the power industry's fault when power prices skyrocket. It'll also be the power industry's fault when these sources of power fail at maintaining baseline power levels.

    Way to fucking go. Decision by committee of imbeciles.

  • Re:Number (Score:3, Insightful)

    by EmagGeek ( 574360 ) <(gterich) (at) (aol.com)> on Monday March 28, 2011 @08:25AM (#35637352) Journal

    Something else to consider is that this is not a nuclear accident. This is not the result of poor design, protocol, or process.

    It is the result of a fucking 9.0 Earthquake, which is almost unimaginable in its intensity and destructive power.

  • Re:Keep the old (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Monday March 28, 2011 @08:27AM (#35637366)

    What nuclear industry wants:
    build new plants and keep the old ones running

    What ecologists wants:
    close old plants and stop building new ones

    keep old plants running and stop building new ones. It's cheaper for the nuclear industry
    and it ensures no nuclear plants in the long term. That's the worst solution in terms of security.

    Sane thing to do if you care about security
    Close old plants and replace them with new safer ones.

  • Re:Good (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Chas ( 5144 ) on Monday March 28, 2011 @08:30AM (#35637408) Homepage Journal

    Sorry, but if you think Wind/Solar can be used for baseline power, you're on drugs.

    You have NO idea exactly how huge the battery capacity you're suggesting is. Nor how expensive and high-maintenance such an array is. And if you're adverse to the environmental impact of a few tons of recyclable nuclear waste, how adverse are you to the environmental impact of a few megatons of battery medium?

    Please put some thought into what you're trying to suggest.

  • Re:What happened? (Score:2, Insightful)

    by node 3 ( 115640 ) on Monday March 28, 2011 @08:33AM (#35637428)

    What kind of super-men do you expect to design, build, run, secure, and maintain these plants? All it takes is one accident, and you've got a disaster on your hands.

    The fuel itself is dangerous, and remains dangerous for billions of years. Who do you trust to be able to tame something like that? And even if you trust the current engineers and businessmen and politicians to keep it safe, you have to trust those that follow, for the rest of your life (and the lives of those to follow).

  • Re:Number (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Talderas ( 1212466 ) on Monday March 28, 2011 @08:36AM (#35637476)

    It's the result of a 15 meter tsunami.

    Remember, the plant weathered the quake just fine and its backup systems were running UNTIL the tsunami came along. This is really the bit that makes me facepalm over all the moratoriums on nuclear plants that are going on.

    Yes, Germany, tsunami's are a huge problem for you.

  • Re:What happened? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by EdZ ( 755139 ) on Monday March 28, 2011 @08:40AM (#35637510)

    All it takes is one accident, and you've got a disaster on your hands.

    Eh? The reactors at the Fukushima no.1 complex were hit by a magnitude 9.0 earthquake, THEN a 12m high tsunami, and THEN several explosions. So far, the only injuries from radiation have been two workers who received surface skin burns to their legs (on the severity of a bad sunburn) because they ignored their dosimeter warning alarm.
    The Fukushima incident has shown that even with multiple massive accidents, even old designs hold up pretty damn well.

  • Re:So uh (Score:5, Insightful)

    by SomeKDEUser ( 1243392 ) on Monday March 28, 2011 @08:47AM (#35637596)

    This is true. People don't realise it but when you are thinking about energy policy, you are making a 50-year bet. So now the bet looks something like that:
      - there will be no oil
      - there will be lots of coal
      - there will be uranium
      - there should be wind and sun

    but also
      - geothermal might become practical
      - carbon sequestration might become practical
      - solar cells might become more efficient
      - most cars will be electric
      - global warming is a threat
      - oil/gas producers are not always nice nations.

    So demand in electricity will go massively up as oil is phased out. But you don't want to release too much CO2. Biofuels are probably not a good idea. So you are left, now with two possible strategies:
      - use coal as a stopgap for renewables/fusion
      - use nuclear as a stopgap for renewable/fusion
      - maybe gas is an option. If you don't mind dealing with bloody tyrants.

    If you believe in climate change, you will go down the nuclear route. Unless you are so committed against nuclear power that coal is the only option no matter what (Germany, a very, very green country battles against carbon caps in the EU, because they know nuclear is politically toxic and coal is their only option -- in my opinion this is crazy stupid).

    Of course you must develop all alternatives as much as you can. This is the only long-term solution, but in energy, this means 40 years. And elections are every 4...

  • Re:So uh (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Anrego ( 830717 ) * on Monday March 28, 2011 @08:48AM (#35637616)

    The best bet is actually to start saving and lower consumption over all.

    That may be the best way, but I wouldn't bet on it ever happening. A solution that relies on people to conciously deprive themselves of something for the good of everyone is bound to fail in todays society.

  • Re:So uh (Score:5, Insightful)

    by fuzzyfuzzyfungus ( 1223518 ) on Monday March 28, 2011 @08:49AM (#35637622) Journal
    I suspect that most of the public reaction is, indeed, a visceral response to the current incident. Emotional, and not likely to last all that long(particularly given that, with incomes flat or declining among the bottom 4 or 4.5 quintiles, and energy costs rising, people are going to grasp at anything that pretends that they will be able to keep on living their familiar suburban existence.

    What I find disconcerting about the whole thing is not so much that a given 60's era reactor design didn't cope all that well when exposed to atypically gigantic earthquake and tsunami conditions; but that plant HQ has, apparently, been slimy and dubiously transparent about their somewhat cavalier risk management practices for decades, they've only just had it bite them public-ally.

    The "zOMG, nuclear power always causes 3-eyed rats and flipper babies made of pure cancer!" brigade is out to lunch. However, unfortunately enough, the "nuclear power has the potential to be safe; but its operation always seems to end up in the hands of penny-pinching scumweasels who do their best to fail to live up to that promise." is more history than hypothesis.

    Until the engineers manage the historic leap of creating a design that managers can't fuck up, certain concerns will remain entirely valid(to be fair, most of those concerns validated, often with grotesque callousness, on a daily basis in other forms of power generation, just ask a coal miner...); but it is true that nuclear designs tend to underperform their theoretical engineering maximums for reasons that come down to frankly untrustworthy management.
  • by antifoidulus ( 807088 ) on Monday March 28, 2011 @08:53AM (#35637690) Homepage Journal
    Well, part of it certainly is timing, when the US stopped doing nuclear testing in 1992, the internet was at it's infancy and there really was only one 24 hour news network. Now you can get information(even bad information) in an instant whenever you want it and the competition has gotten so cut-throat that nobody wants to miss the "big story" The end result usually is mass panic over the tiniest of problems.
  • by cryfreedomlove ( 929828 ) on Monday March 28, 2011 @08:54AM (#35637704)
    Any chance safe nuclear power has is set back when governments lie about risks or the extent of any accidents. The USSR government lied about the safety of nuclear plants and then lied to cover up the extent of Chernobyl. Residents of the Ukraine heard about the disaster from the BBC days before their own government. I heard this first hand from friends of mine who lived in Kiev at the time. The government and power company in Japan is lying through omission about the extent of the ongoing danger in Japan. They have only been forthcoming when outed by foreign media.

    I like nuclear power. I think it is safer than belching radioactivity into the air from burning coal. However, nuclear power has a long track record of official deception and lies that will make it harder to have a reasonable discussion about moving ahead with safe and zero carbon nuclear options in the future.
  • I'd say it is the fault of the nuclear industry for failing to educate the masses that there are choices now besides the big ass clunky reactors like Japan has.

    With the small Thorium reactors you can have a reactor in a shipping crate, just bury it when you are finished with it and which would power a decent medium sized city easily and you can simply add more as needed. With the smaller size comes much less risk and they would be much easier to harden to survive even the kind of unpredictable catastrophes like struck Japan, and they also need to be showing how well our current reactors are doing even though most are 40+ years old.

    So if you want someone to blame blame the nuclear industry, because if they were educating the masses on their options instead of singing "oh poor me" or completely ignoring the public they might have a more favorable outlook.

    Also having a CEO that isn't a greedy pussy and bragged about having his family home in sight of the reactor might do wonders, as it never ceases to amaze me how many CEOs talk about how nice their plants are and then live as far away from them as possible. Putting their asses with their mouths are certainly wouldn't hurt their image none.

  • by nten ( 709128 ) on Monday March 28, 2011 @08:56AM (#35637742)

    Fusion is a great long term proposition, even if we never learn how to make a reactor other than the one we are orbiting, but I think we will. The thorium won't run out before we figure out fusion. But right now we need to be worried about if fossil fuels will run out before we get the thorium reactors built, not whether they will be prone to the same incidents seen in 30yr old reactors essentially designed as nuclear weapons refineries.

  • Re:What happened? (Score:4, Insightful)

    by node 3 ( 115640 ) on Monday March 28, 2011 @09:00AM (#35637790)

    Cancer doesn't tend to kill you the moment the first neutron damages your DNA. It takes a while.

    What, do you think the primary risk with nuclear power is that there will be an atom-bomb style explosion? The risk of a nuclear explosion exists (has happened on multiple occasions) but those are instant blasts of radiation that are localized, with very little physical blast damage.

    But no, it's not about the instant deaths. It's the increase in cancer deaths and the billions of years of contamination of the nearby land, and the worldwide reach of the fallout that people don't like. If a wind farm gets hit by a tsunami in Massachusetts, you won't die of cancer in 20 years in Iowa.

  • by JSBiff ( 87824 ) on Monday March 28, 2011 @09:00AM (#35637792) Journal

    I decided to try to start learning about nuclear power a little over a year ago, driven mostly by concerns about waste disposal, and safety.

    One of the things I've learned is that current reactor designs only use a tiny, tiny percent of fuel potential of the Uranium - basically, about 1 percent.

    So, one option is that we keep using the current fuel cycle for another 150-200 years, then when Uranium gets scarce, we start using breeder reactors, which 'unlock' the fuel potential of the remaining 99% of the Uranium which remains in our 'spent fuel' and 'depleted uranium' tailings.

    With breeder reactor technology, after extracting 1% of the energy for about 250 years (we've already been using reactors for over 50 years, so the clock has already started), we should be able to get something like 99 * 250 years times more energy (assuming energy consumption levels remain about the same; that's a dubious assumption, but provides at least a good starting point; it also assumes the breeders can consume the full 99% of remaining U-238, which might not, in practice, actually be true - there might be some 'losses' in the process, but we should at least be able to extract a large percentage of what remains).

    So, that might be something like 20,000 more years worth of power from that Uranium.

    Then there's Thorium. Thorium is a metal which is 4 or 5 times more abundant in the earth's crust than Uranium is. Right now, Thorium is a mostly useless 'waste' product from mining operations extracting other rare-earth elements (like Neodymium which is used for very strong permanent magnets in high-tech equipment, including those little earbud speakers for your phone/mp3 player, some designs of electric wind turbines, hard drives [I think], or anything which needs very strong magnets).

    Thorium would most likely be used in a type of reactor called a LFTR (most folks pronounce that as "lifter"), which is the Liquid Fluoride Thorium Reactor. A LFTR very efficiently burns the Thorium, extracting virtually 100% of the available energy, so we should have something on the order of 100,000's of years of energy supply using Thorium.

    In the end though, we'll probably be using fusion power long before those eventualities. It's hard to say for sure, but I would think that at most, we'll only be using fission reactors for another 100-200 years anyhow.

  • Re:So uh (Score:2, Insightful)

    by __aamnbm3774 ( 989827 ) on Monday March 28, 2011 @09:05AM (#35637886)
    If we could invent a dang Killswitch, I would be fine with Nuclear power.

    But we can't stop it what-so-ever. Expecting 'weeks' worth of constantly running water is not realistic expectation in hundreds of 'worst case' scenarios.

    It is extremely irresponsible to try and harness a technology if you are unable to quickly and safely pull the damn plug.
  • by petes_PoV ( 912422 ) on Monday March 28, 2011 @09:06AM (#35637900)
    Without new reactors, the old ones will be kept in service for longer. So instead of having new installations - complete with all the design improvements and safety features that have been invented in the past few decades, the old reactors from the 70s and 80s will have to be kept running for longer - well past their original design life.

    The alternative is to switch them off, and go back to using oil and gas from foreign sources and coal fired stations. While people *think* nuclear is unsafe, coal mining is *proven* to be unsafe. Just consider the number of miners killed every year.

    Somehow, public opinion has managed to come up with the worst possible solution, by not thinking through the consequences of the soundbite press and media and knee-jerk decisions it promotes.

  • by Joce640k ( 829181 ) on Monday March 28, 2011 @09:08AM (#35637926) Homepage

    In the meantime the coal reactors will keep on pumping more radiation into the air than a nuclear station ever would. And mercury, etc.

  • Re:So uh (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Stepnsteph ( 1326437 ) on Monday March 28, 2011 @09:10AM (#35637952)

    I agree with Anrego here.

    As a psychology major with, of course, an interest in sociology and human behavior in general, I don't really watch the "news". I watch the behavior of the presenters. I notice the emphasis that's added to certain words or syllables, the unnecessary dramatic pauses, the music & sound effects that are used, the flashy graphics, etc etc.. and then I think of the general uneducated public that's watching this.

    It breaks my heart in a way, to be honest. Our (or "U.S." for those elsewhere) media, and interest groups, are riding on the coat tails of the very real tragedy. Then turning on themselves (eg the "human shield" tripe) between the FUD.

    That's to be expected, I suppose, but it's why I turned (long ago) to the Internet to get real news. Thank goodness for international news sources and multi-lingual support.

    Of course the general public is afraid of tsunamis and 9.0 earth quakes and vague, unnamed super disasters.

    We need more high capacity power plants, and we need people to stop rejecting everything that's not a magic cure-all silver bullet because that's NEVER going to exist.

    I've written this before my first cup of coffee this morning, so my apologies if this doesn't come across quite as clearly as we would all like. Now I have to get ready to go. You folks have a great day.

  • by Grand Facade ( 35180 ) on Monday March 28, 2011 @09:12AM (#35637976)

    I am in favor of making the people that run them directly responsible for the consequences. They can't be allowed to profit and then go "aw gee what happened?".

  • by JSBiff ( 87824 ) on Monday March 28, 2011 @09:18AM (#35638076) Journal

    I think that opponents of nuclear power create a bit of a paradox by opposing *new* nuclear power plants:

    By opposing the construction of new nuclear power plants, whose designs benefit from decades of experience gained with older designs, knowledge about their failure modes, ways to improve cooling with passive cooling systems, etc, you effectively act to keep older, less safe nuclear power plants in operation longer.

    So, would you rather be living near a newer, safer plant, or an older, slightly less safe (but still, mostly safe - it took a massive earthquake and tsunami to take out those old Mk 1's in Fukushima) plant?

    That said, I certainly think we should (and I'm positive we will) do extensive investigation and analysis of the problems at Fukushima Daiichi, find what lessons can be learned from that, and apply those lessons to both existing, and new reactors.

    But it's worth repeating: opposing new nuclear will likely have the effect of keeping older nuclear online longer than it would if there were new nuclear plants built to replace the old ones.

  • by Joce640k ( 829181 ) on Monday March 28, 2011 @09:22AM (#35638138) Homepage

    The thing that mostly makes them expensive is the ten years of approval process and the five years of meetings you have to have with the NIMBYs to eventually get to build one.

    The only way to convince investors to sign up for all that crap is to promise them a massive return on their money, ie. the debt repayment ends up costing you an order of magnitude more than the sum of the materials/labor needed to actually build it. See Economics of Nuclear Power Plants [wikipedia.org]

    Still, you could be supplying the entire country with cheap energy for less than the cost of the banking bailout. Imagine what that could do for the economy...(as opposed to giving the bankers a taste for free money which will just make them do it all over again).

  • Re:What happened? (Score:4, Insightful)

    by khallow ( 566160 ) on Monday March 28, 2011 @09:43AM (#35638448)

    What kind of super-men do you expect to design, build, run, secure, and maintain these plants? All it takes is one accident, and you've got a disaster on your hands.

    The kind of supermen who have run hundreds of plants for decades without major incident. All it takes is "one accident", which aside from Chernobyl, hasn't happened yet.

    The fuel itself is dangerous, and remains dangerous for billions of years.

    While technically right (after all, the end decay product for most uranium is lead, which is a toxic metal without a half-life), it is a remarkably ignorant statement. The radioactivity of a rod drops dramatically just in the first few weeks out of the reactor. Then as I understand it, most of the remaining radioactivity is in isotopes with half-lives of decades to centuries. For the projections for Yucca Mountain, they expected containment for ten thousand years to be adequate to get rid of most radioactivity from nuclear rods.

    But there's no need for containment on the time scale of billions of years. No plutonium isotope will last that long. And you'd see a large drop in uranium 235 (which after all has a half-life of about 700 million years) and even a notable drop in uranium 238. My bet is that someone would recycle the nuclear rods in the next few centuries rather than leave us with a pollution problem.

  • Re:What happened? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by HappyHead ( 11389 ) on Monday March 28, 2011 @09:44AM (#35638468)

    As more details emerge, one thing is becoming clear: This accident did not happen as a result of any tsunami. The tsunami merely kicked in the door of a rotten structure which swiftly collapsed. Cost cutting, poor safety, inadequate oversight, etc, etc; These are the real causes of the radiation leaks happening at Fukushima at present.Some very dirty laundry is being aired in very public view.

    Wow, you're just full of crap today, aren't you?

    This accident did happen as a result of a Tsunami. Giant freakin' wave of ocean water shredded the reactor buildings and destroyed the control equipment. Cost cutting, poor safety, inadequate oversight, etc, etc, are not to blame. All of the extra money thrown at the reactors, all of the additional safety features (which were by the way, far from poor), and all of the oversight in the world would not have stopped a nuclear plant that had just been through a NINE POINT FREAKIN' ZERO earthquake, followed by a TWELVE METER WAVE OF SALT-WATER SMASHING THE BUILDINGS from breaking. Seriously! Get a clue. Yes, deregulation for things like public utilities is bad - it never turns out well, but absolving the worst natural disaster in history of any guilt in the devastation it caused? You're delusional.

  • Re:Good (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Chas ( 5144 ) on Monday March 28, 2011 @09:47AM (#35638536) Homepage Journal

    With sufficiently massive and widespread deployment of wind/solar, they *become* the base load,

    This right here shows that you don't even know what base load is.

    You also don't understand that wind/solar cannot be depended on for always-on power generation. PERIOD.

    Solar panel and wind farm facilities are space prohibitive and have operational windows drastically affected by local climate.

    Solar/Salt facilities are highly dependent on local climate and also space prohibitive.

    Hydro-based power in this country is about as far along as it's going to get. As it is also hamstrung by factions of the environmental movement.

    As such, the output from any or all of these facilities can range from adequate to nothing.

    These technologies are supplementary power technologies at best (and expensive ones at that). Trying to depend on them for base load would be ridiculous.

  • Re:What happened? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by DarkOx ( 621550 ) on Monday March 28, 2011 @09:59AM (#35638696) Journal

    Tell me, since you don't come out and say it exactly but your post seems to imply that a public entity could run a Nuclear power station more safely. I don't think this is true because they will be subject to the same fiscal pressure a private corporation is.

    Case 1: Chernobyl, was run by a communist government. They cut corners on the desing and materials used to build the plant, and finally on training and staffing to run it. The result was the worst accident in the history of nuclear power generation. Why did they cut corners? Well obviously they wanted to direct those resources elsewhere, it makes not difference whether it was to some officials pocket or to bread for orphans.

    Case 2: New Orleans and Katrina. The Army Core of Engineers had informed the city government that the levies needed to be repaired in places and that they needed to be re-enforced and made higher in general. The local government was aware of this for years prior to the disaster. There was not even a project going to complete the work. Why? Because they were spending the tax revenue elsewhere (largely social programs).

    If you put a public body in charge of plant maintenance they same thing will happen, managers will always place some perceived need of today over mitigation of some risk in the future. There is always going to be pressure to minimize the cost of operating these plants and its always going to push operation below the margin of safety.

  • Re:So uh (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Solandri ( 704621 ) on Monday March 28, 2011 @10:11AM (#35638906)
    Statistically, nuclear is the safest power generation technology Watt-hour for Watt-hour [nextbigfuture.com]. Hydroelectric power accidents kill about 40x more people, wind power accidents about 4x more people, than nuclear accidents (projected, since most of the deaths from Chernobyl are cancer deaths that haven't happened yet). If you remove Banqiao and Chernobyl from the statistics (both were outdated and dangerous designs), both hydro and wind kill about 100x more than nuclear . Solar is a bit trickier to nail down because most of the deaths associated with it are classified as construction deaths (falling off rooftops), and not attributed to solar directly. But the linked-to site makes a decent attempt and solar comes out worse than wind.

    The statistical comparison to fossil fuels is completely off the scale. Coal plant emissions are estimated to kill 1 million people each year (primarily by inducing lung cancer - basically the same mode of death as the majority of the deaths attributed to Chernobyl). That's like 250 Chernobyls every year. Yet people want to hold off on nuclear plants because "they're too dangerous" when the only viable alternative is more coal plants. It's madness.

    And for the folks who say that average statistics aren't important, you have to look at what the worst-case potential devastation is, the worst power generation accident in history was a hydroelectric dam failure [wikipedia.org]. Chernobyl was pretty much a worst-case nuclear accident (active core completely exposed to the environment accompanied by a fire and a government which disregarded the safety of nearby residents), and Banqiao was much, much worse. So by those folks' reasoning, we should be getting rid of hydro in favor of nuclear.

    Basically people interact with water, hunger, and disease every day, they're not freaked out by the prospect of death by dam failure. Radiation on the other hand is something they don't deal with every day (or at least they don't think they do, as they eat a banana split on their granite counter-top after getting home on a transatlantic flight from Europe). The mere mention of the R-word even with no deaths attached completely freaks them out.
  • Re:So uh (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Duradin ( 1261418 ) on Monday March 28, 2011 @10:46AM (#35639490)

    The food issue isn't one of production but of (lack of) governments.

    A lot of those starving people in Africa are living in what used to be THE (not just the, THE) breadbasket of the continent. Why are they starving in what should be the most productive areas of Africa? Because they'll get killed trying to farm the land or they were killed and some group that has no idea how to farm has been given their land.

    Fix the governments and you fix the food problem.

  • by ThePiMan2003 ( 676665 ) on Monday March 28, 2011 @11:08AM (#35639820)

    The NIMBYs are going "I told you so" around Tokyo right about now.

    Only because they are idiots. So far no one has died from radiation, and it looks like no one will. Instead we have 11000 confirmed dead and another 17000 missing from the disaster, but because people are idiots they only talk about the damn reactors. We are going to have more deaths this summer from rolling blackouts in a heat wave, then will happen because of these reactors.

"How many teamsters does it take to screw in a light bulb?" "FIFTEEN!! YOU GOT A PROBLEM WITH THAT?"