NEW POLL: what’s your view on nuclear power?

by Stephen Tall on April 16, 2009

Yesterday the Government released a list of 11 sites in England and Wales where new nuclear power stations could be built, with the aim of having the first reactors operational within a decade.

The Lib Dems’ shadow energy and climate change secretary Simon Hughes was unequivocal in stating his anti-nuclear position on behalf of the party, branding this new generation of nuclear power stations a “colossal mistake”:

They are hugely expensive, dangerous and will take too long to build. There is a real danger that the Government is becoming too close to and [sic] the big energy companies. The best answer to Britain’s needs is a massive expansion of renewable energy. If billions of pounds are wasted on new nuclear sites the money simply won’t be available to do this.”

Almost two years ago, in May 2007, the Lib Dems’ David Howarth set out extensive proposals for a completely renewable energy system – through a mix of wind, tide and wave energy, as well as solar, biomass and geothermal energy – which the party said would ‘provide for Britain’s current electricity demand many times over’.

But the party acknowledged that it would take time – at least until 2050 – for this to happen. In the interim, David advocated investing in ‘carbon capture and storage technology’ – “better on grounds of flexibility, compatibility with renewables and microgeneration, safety, waste, proliferation, counter-terrorism, security of supply, and benefit to the British economy”. Going down the nuclear route would, he argue, “crowd out renewable energy, leaving us further away from the eventual goal of full sustainability”.

Not everyone is convinced, however. John Thurso has in the past expressed qualified support for nuclear power as “the least worst option” while Lib Dem MEP Chris Davies argues that:

the imperative now is to fight global warming. We cannot ignore the fact that our existing nuclear power stations do not release carbon dioxide. Carbon emissions will rise as they come to the end of their lives.”

Here, then, is the question for you, LDV’s readers: Do you think nuclear power is an essential component of the UK’s future energy policy?

Here are your options:

>> Yes, nuclear power should be part of the energy mix
>> Perhaps, would wish to see renewable alternatives but prefer nuclear power to fossil fuels
>> No, nuclear power should be ruled out now
>> Don’t know / other

As ever, please feel free to provide more nuanced answers in the comments thread…

Enjoy reading this? Please like and share:

No comments

Everyone who comments on this should first read ‘Sustainable Energy – Without the Hot Air’ by David MacKay (http://www.withouthotair.com/), or at least the chapter ‘Five energy plans for Britain’ (http://www.inference.phy.cam.ac.uk/withouthotair/c27/page_203.shtml).

We can’t produce the amount of renewable energy we need in the UK, maintaining our currently lifestyle, without one of the following three (and this is even if we cover the coast with wind farms and the rest):

1. Importing a lot of energy from overseas (i.e. solar power in deserts)

2. Using ‘clean coal’ technology, which has many of its own problems.

3. Using nuclear fission power plants.

Chris

by Chris Jenkinson on April 16, 2009 at 7:36 pm. Reply #

I’ve not been convinced by the models suggesting we can provide for the UK’s electricity needs by renewables alone, and I regard nuclear as the least worst option. I don’t understand the view that CCS (carbon capture and storage) is a preferable alternative. The risks from CCS are comparable to nuclear: problems over safety of storage, time to develop, and cost. Moreover CCS is still being developed and its viability on a large scale is still unknown. There is no such thing as clean coal.

Alternative models that I’ve seen (such as submitted to the nuclear review by Greenpeace and FoE) rely too heavily on natural gas, and the false assumption that electricity use can be reduced. Apart from the fact that natural gas is a fossil fuel, albeit with lower emissions than coal, there is the security issue. Both combating climate change and adapting to it imply increased electricity use — for electric cars and air conditioning.

Frankly, I think the LDs are not up to speed on this issue and urgently need a rethink.

by Jane Leaper on April 16, 2009 at 7:47 pm. Reply #

Nuclear 35-7 ahead, wow.

I disagree with framing this debate as nuclear or renewables (or efficiency). It is about global warming, which means it is about fossil fuels versus everything else.

Yes, we want efficiency, but we also want to use electricity for transport. So demanding electricity use goes down is not helpful.

When we have fleets of battery powered cars, trucks and buses, recharging off-peak, then the economics of both nuclear and renewables will improve substantially.

by Joe Otten on April 16, 2009 at 9:28 pm. Reply #

Can’t vote for any of the options offered.

If we had no nuclear capacity then I’d not want to see us start – but given that we already have stations (and therefore the issues around long-term storage and safety) AND we have a looming shortfall in electricity generating capacity AND we have a likely global warming issue, then I would accept a limited programme of new stations to “bridge the gap”.

by crewegwyn on April 16, 2009 at 9:42 pm. Reply #

crewegwyn: Since we are where we are, why can’t you vote for any of the options?

by Andy Hinton on April 16, 2009 at 10:44 pm. Reply #

There are 2 basic reasons why nuclear power remains a non-option: 1 – it cannot be delivered without subsidy (including insurance exemption) and is therefore economically unsustainable; 2 – there is still no safe way to dispose of the waste, making it ecologically unsustainable too. If something is neither ecologically nor economically sustainable, it cannot be politically sustained or supported by Liberals. QED.

by Andrew Duffield on April 16, 2009 at 11:31 pm. Reply #

Nuclear is undesirable, but if it comes to a choice between nuclear, or turning off my lights, PC and fridge, I vote nuclear.

I’d rather see renewables, but sadly there are plenty of (even!) us Libs campaigning against the only possible alternative to nuclear – i.e. “nimbys” against windfarms and “greens” against channel/river barrages because of the ecological impact.

I just can’t see us getting far enough with renewables in the time we have before we’re in trouble. Nuclear is certainly preferable to more coal or gas.

I am astonished and horrified to learn we have 3 new gas stations being built currently. What a waste…

by mark on April 16, 2009 at 11:56 pm. Reply #

Andrew,

1. Does “economically unsustainable” mean something other than expensive? If so, what?

2. Global warming is unsustainable. Deep storage of waste is entirely practical. Some isotopes have a long half-life, but so does the Uranium in ore. Before too long the waste is comparably radioactive to what the ore was.

There is just no comparison between the problem of a little localised radioactivity, way underground, and the problem of global warming.

by Joe Otten on April 17, 2009 at 12:19 am. Reply #

I have always been against nuclear energy, but James Lovelock argued some time ago very persuasively in my opinion that I should change my mind on this. Global warming is the bigger threat, and no political party wants to be responsible for the lights going out.
To be fair, the whole debate is very complex.

by Geoffrey Payne on April 17, 2009 at 6:37 am. Reply #

There ARE safe ways of disposing of nuclear waste. The nuclear stuff that serves no foreseeable useful purpose (unless we envisage going to war against the USA) are warheads & submarines. The party should re-think its’ position on nuclear power generation.

by coldcomfort on April 17, 2009 at 9:03 am. Reply #

Voted for “Perhaps, would wish to see renewable alternatives but prefer nuclear power to fossil fuels” but that doesn’t really describe my position.

I’d sooner have Natural Gas than nuclear – lower financial, security and ecological risk, can be built much quicker.

I’d also hasten to add that the possibilities for renewable energy have hardly scratched the surface – tidal and wave power can provide a great deal more energy than wind power but are almost entirely absent from our power grid despite being proven to work, and most importantly can provide a sustained, consistent source of power – unlike solar, wind, etc.

AFAICT, the main problem is that nobody has grasped the nettle and invested in renewable beyond a few, mostly token, wind farms – and that the energy companies are too interested in massive projects subsidised by the state (whether nuclear or wave or wind).

Lastly, I’m puzzled about how it’s bad to be reliant on importing natural gas or electricity, but fine to be reliant on importing nuclear materials, skills and businesses.

by Aaron Trevena on April 17, 2009 at 9:51 am. Reply #

I would urge anyone unpersuaded of the need for nuclear power to go and look at a nuclear power station. Most are no larger than a big warehouse, they make no noise and emit no smell. The waste can, in theory, be fired into the sun, and ways of neutralising it may yet be found.

I am concerned by the failure to develop alternatives to hydrocarbon fuel. Electric cars that travel at 20mph and need to be recharged every half hour don’t provide a solution. I am told that better technologies do exist (at least on paper) but that the oil companies don’t want them developed until the last drop of oil is extracted.

Clearly, the Party’s policy has to change, and change fast. Nuclear power is the only realistic alternative to the continued burning of fossil fuel, and wind-farms are vote-losing eyesores.

by Sesenco on April 17, 2009 at 10:08 am. Reply #

“We can’t produce the amount of renewable energy we need in the UK, maintaining our currently lifestyle,”

There’s no reason why one end of that equation as to remain fixed though. We are seeing changes in people’s lifestyles as a result of the economic downturn – there is no fundamental difference in theory.

“The waste can, in theory, be fired into the sun,”
Possibly the maddest suggestion on this site for some time. Of course it’s true in theory – but you only need one rocket launch failure (and rates are fairly high by comparision with other things) and you have a big big problem.

My objection to nuclear is this. Say were dependent on nuclear for say 40% of our electricity generation. Then imagine a serious fault at one plant, one that could have, but in fact didn’t lead to a significant radioactive leak.

There would then be massive pressure to shut down the other plants as a precautionary measure. Alternatively the incident would be hushed up (and almost inevitably leak) to prevent that situation arising.

by Hywel on April 17, 2009 at 10:19 am. Reply #

Sesenco said “The waste can, in theory, be fired into the sun..” – so you’re proposing we dispose of nuclear waste by creating massive nuclear missiles then? Or by putting it on the space shuttle and hoping it doesn’t explode on take-off?

The big problem with nuclear power is waste. Until this can be disposed of safely, then then you can’t really consider nuclear as a long-term option for the replacement of fossil fuels. It’s one of the few things which Alex Salmond has got right since 2007.

In any case, we (in Scotland at least) have got plenty wind, sea, and rivers to keep us going in power for some time – remember, one of the old state-owned power companies was (and still is) the Scottish Hydro-Electric board (N Scotland) as that’s where most of its power came from.

by KL on April 17, 2009 at 11:13 am. Reply #

We simply can’t supply the UK’s energy needs from renewables, even with radical exploitation of wave, wind, tide and solar power that overrides any environmental objections to specific schemes.

We need to stop putting carbon dioxide into the atmosphere.

Carbon Capture and Storage is a neat idea, but it is still essentially at the prototype stage and cannot be regarded as a proven or reliable solution.

Nuclear power works, and is available off the shelf. The disposal of nuclear waste is a solved problem technologically, if not politically. It involves substantial costs – but global warming is also expensive.

The objections to nuclear power, when stripped down to the fundamental drivers, seem to me to be twofold:

1. OMG!!! RADIATION IS TEH EVOL!!!

2. The nuclear industry are a bunch of lying bastards.

The first of these is basically born of ignorance, both of science and of the comparable dangers of other energy generation systems. The second is more substantial. The nuclear industry gre up in the Cold War, linked in various ways with nuclear weapons production, and thus infected with the usual sorts of secrecy and cover-ups. I don’t blame anybody for being reluctant to trust the nuclear industry. But if we look critically at the science and the technology, without taking anything on trust, we can see that a new generation of nuclear power plants is our best option over the next few decades for maintaining our civilisation without screwing up the planet.

Oh, and we should also be investing a lot more seriously in fusion power. It’s not the answer to our immediate problems, but in a few decades’ time we may never have to worry about energy supply again.

by Iain Coleman on April 17, 2009 at 11:43 am. Reply #

A number of ostrich comments here.

KL appears to be making a case for dam-building – about the most environmentally destructive means of electricity generation there is. The late Barnes Wallis had the perfect solution to dams.

Hywel thinks that firing nuclear waste into the sun is mad. Well, the proposal came from Monsignor Bruce Kent (former President of CND) (a priest) so maybe it is mad (?!).

Then Aaron tells us that relying on Mr Vladimir Putin for our energy supply just isn’t a problem. Right.

Let us be under no illusion. Exclusive reliance on “renewables” would result in a catastrophic decline in living standards. Now, that is precisely what the guilt-ridden hairshirters of the Green Party would love to happen. But is it what Liberal Democrats want?

by Sesenco on April 17, 2009 at 1:52 pm. Reply #

Joe

You asked: “Does “economically unsustainable” mean something other than expensive? If so, what?”

Economic sustainability has nothing to do with price. It simply means that real production costs will always be higher than potential revenue, making nuclear unviable.

There is enough distortion in the market through state subsidies without adding more nuclear subsidy to the mix. In a free and level market place, ideally with a per joule tax levied at economic source, the most efficient (i.e. least polluting) and most cost effective energy sources would win out. Nuclear wouldn’t even come close, although as a Liberal I’d be very happy for it to compete – on level terms of course.

by Andrew Duffield on April 17, 2009 at 3:08 pm. Reply #

I support a limited amount of nuclear power stations as art of a hybrid remedy to meet the increasing 21st C household and industrial demand for Fuel and Energy.

I would vote for up to 20% Nuclear but it must be trialled as state of the art technology.

Remember Chernobyl?

However, there are many unanswered questions linked to both arguments in favour and against `Sustainable Renewables’ and Nuclear Energy options.

1.EU countries like Germany and the Netherlands et al are well ahead of the game on `Green Energy’ than the UK.

2.I favour local self sustaining Council Energy projects, with Local Area Electricity Grids, linked to the disposal of Waste and Recycling, besides generating electricity.

3.Also more biomass boilers, in new social housing development : but too many new homes projects are now on hold, due to the `Downturn’!

4.To pay for (2) there has to be new public/private innovatory means of revenue raising i.e.energy bonds- combining Local Councils and Energy Companies vested in `Green Energy’ credentials.This concept has been mooted at L/D Conferences by Jonathan Porritt and his friends.

5.L/D `Green Road Economy’ will enable lower income families and fixed income families to pay less and the introduction of Citizens Pensions must take account of `fuel poverty’.

6.There has so far been no safe way of scientifically disposing of `Nuclear Waste’.

7.Several attempts made to dump `Nuclear Waste’ via UK ports e.g. Hartlepool- have all met with a massive groundswell of vitriol from `Friends of the Earth’.

8.It is correct that a significant number of Liberal sustainable energy advocates, do not want to see a galaxy of wind driving turbines,scattered across the Lake District or Snowdonia.

9.There is a dearth of wind turbines off shore and solar heating roofed new social housing.Why?

Will there be a new debate for/against a Nuclear option in Energy Policy, at Conference?

If so,it is likely to be a volatile topic, again.

by Cllr Patrick Smith on April 17, 2009 at 3:45 pm. Reply #

To begin, full disclosure: I work for Areva, the French company likely to build many or all of the new reactors in the UK. By the time I graduated with a Masters in physics last year I already knew I wanted to work in the nuclear industry, and I didn’t look anywhere else, because this is a technology I strongly believe in.

I think that the Liberal Democrat opposition to nuclear energy is not consistent with the scale of the energy challenge we face globally in the coming decades. The world will need some 30 trillion watts of clean power (currently we use about 13 trillion, almost entirely from fossil fuels) if decent living standards are to be achieved in the developing world without destroying the climate. That’s assuming that development is as energy efficient as possible.

In the UK, we can certainly use less energy but more of the energy we use will have to be delivered as electricity if we are to cut CO2 emissions in space heating and transport, so electricity supply will probably have to grow. We get 80% of our electricity from fossil fuels today.

Right now, neither a system based on the abundant renewable energy sources (wind and solar), nor carbon capture, have been demonstrated at anything like the relevant scale anywhere in the world. There are sound technical reasons to doubt that either approach will be practical at scale.

Across the channel we have an existence proof – a prosperous, high tech economy – where close to 80% of the electricity comes from nuclear reactors. We import 2,000 MW of that low CO2 electricity to use in the UK, by the way, through the UK-France interconnector.

Nuclear energy has its problems, but I think that when they are considered in a holistic manner and contrasted with those of the alternatives, one can see that they have been greatly exaggerated.

The used nuclear fuel is a very dangerous material, but it is produced in tiny quantities relative to the energy supplied. Our high tech economy routinely handles other very dangerous materials, but there is a unique perception of danger associated with ionising radiation, probably because it is poorly understood by the public. I am confident that used fuel can be safely handled. I, however, would not want it buried, because I know that future reactor types will probably be able to use the most difficult isotopes as fuel. In the long term, I think we will see a fuel cycle using fast neutron reactors that leaves only relatively short lived (up to 400 years) fission products as waste. These reactors, by the way, are much better demonstrated even today than carbon capture and storage or an all diffuse renewable power grid (all hydro grids do exist for instance in Norway, but hydro cannot scale to solve the problem, we have already dammed most of the suitable rivers).

The same fast neutron reactors can also solve the problem of uranium supply since they will fission the U-238 that makes up 99.3% of natural uranium, multiplying the fuel supply 100 times.

Safety is, I think, a largely solved problem in modern reactor designs (of which Chernobyl certainly was not an example). In fact, light water reactors of the type we would build in the UK have a superb safety record in their previous incarnations, and the new ones would be safer.

The economics of nuclear power are challenging because most of the costs are up front: building the expensive, high tech power plant. After that the fuel is cheap (less than 10% of the total cost, compare with 80% for gas) which protects customers from volatile electricity prices. Contrary to some accounts, the French nuclear industry after an initial period of government funding is now very profitable and has vastly more than paid back its start up costs in taxes – note that French electricity is cheaper than most other places in Europe. Nuclear fission can be an affordable energy source, its just not a good choice for investors looking to make a quick return.

The biggest issue I see is weapons proliferation, since there is some overlap between civilian and military nuclear technology, particularly in the areas of enrichment and reprocessing of used fuel. However, I think that with strong international safeguards and appropriate design of fuel cycle technologies to build in proliferation resistance, this issue can be managed.

I don’t think nuclear fission is a perfect energy source obviously, but it has some tremendous advantages. Fission can release enormous amounts of heat under our control (not that of the weather), from a tiny amount of material – a typical 1,000 nuclear plant uses about 10 tonnes of fuel per year; a coal plant with the same output uses more than a million tonnes of coal. This energy density allows the footprint of the generating plant to be very small, whereas diffuse renewables will have to cover the country to make a big contribution. The waste products are dangerous but small in volume, so they can easily be confined, whereas the dangerous waste products of fossil fuel combustion have to be dumped in the environment. And with fast neutron reactors, enough fuel exists to provide comfortable living standards to the world for centuries.

When it has all this to offer, the Liberal Democrats are wrong to reject nuclear fission.

by Matthew Smith on April 17, 2009 at 7:39 pm. Reply #

It’s interesting that the results of the poll so far (56 Yes, 48 Perhaps, 35 No, 1 Don’t Know) are very different from the results whenever nuclear power is debated at conference, where even the most modest pro-nuclear proposal is reliably voted down 3 to 1.

I can think of two reasons why this might be:

1. The threat of global warming and the weight of scientific argument have changed the balance of opinion within the party.

2. A Lib Dem Voice poll samples a different demographic from conference delegates.

The latter I feel is more likely. It could be that lots of non-party members are voting on the poll, of course, but I doubt that terribly many pro-nuclear activists would be bothered to do that. More plausibly, an online poll on a website like this will sample a more technically literate demographic than any conference vote.

Gven that power generation is fundamentally an engineering issue, perhaps the less technically minded people in the party would do well to take note of this difference, and reflect on whether it ought to change their opinions.

by Iain Coleman on April 18, 2009 at 12:51 am. Reply #

It’s interesting to see that when we’re talking about nuclear power, we’re still talking about monolithic power stations. One of the concerns with nuclear power is that these buildings are often sited on the coast, which means that coastal erosion due to climate change becomes an issue.

Nuclear technologies like pebble-bed reactors exist – these are very safe nuclear microgeneration facilities, can scale from a shed upwards, are basically impossible to meltdown, and involve fairly low radiation levels. One of these in every city would be a decentralised, safer and more secure solution to a nuclear energy outlook, and yet nobody is talking about them.

by Dave Page on April 18, 2009 at 12:04 pm. Reply #

To Dave Page:

Firstly, I do not think that the danger posed by coastal erosion or flooding to nuclear plants built at existing sites will be too great. They are fairly compact installations and constructing effective defences will not be too difficult, should it prove necessary.

Secondly, the economics of small reactors are very unfavourable unless you are willing to forego one of the central planks of nuclear safety; specifically, that three barriers should isolate the radioactive fuel and fission products from the environment, including a large steel reinforced concrete containment building. It was this building that prevented a significant release of radioactive material during the Three Mile Island accident in 1979. Chernobyl notably lacked such a structure.

The trend in reactor design has been from smaller to larger units, largely because doubling the output of the reactor will less than double the cost of the containment (‘economy of scale’).

‘Pebble bed’ reactors are an example of a type that was pursued, and ultimately abandoned, in many countries – the gas graphite reactor (gas cooled, graphite moderated). They differ from the historical gas graphite concept in that the fuel and pyrolytic graphite moderator are combined to form TRISO (TRiple coated ISOmorphic) fuel pebbles. These, as you say, cannot melt down because the reactivity of the core decreases as the temperature increases (this is also true of well designed light water reactors) and the maximum temperature is below the melting point of the fuel pebbles (which is not true for LWRs). Other accident scenarios are feasible however, notably including a graphite fire which is what happened at Windscale, so having a containment would still be a good idea.

The concept has advantages and drawbacks. The main advantage is a much higher primary circuit outlet temperature, allowing more efficient conversion of nuclear heat to electricity or use of nuclear heat in chemical process applications. The disadvantages include low power density – leading to the need for large cores and large containments – and the difficulty of reprocessing the fuel pebbles. They also produce more used fuel in terms of volume.

In general, I think that the recently fashionable ‘small is beautiful’ mantra in energy discussions is highly dubious.

by Matthew Smith on April 18, 2009 at 5:26 pm. Reply #

As I work for a power company I’d better go anonymous on this one.

I understand the pro-nuclear arguments made on this thread. But….

There is a tendency for people to call for a little itsy bit of nuclear, just to fill in the gaps, before we can get renewables to take over in the longer term. That isn’t going to work.

The only people who have made a rip-roaring success out of nuclear are the French. They didn’t do it by halves. They bet the farm on nuclear. Almost all their power is nuclear. The massive development, construction and safety costs were thereby spread over multiple plants, making the economics viable.

For almost everyone else, the costs and delays have invariably been much higher than expected. It just is a much more expensive and difficult enterprise to build a nuclear reactor, make it safe, and prove it safe, than to build a glorified kettle that burns coal or oil!

If we go for nuclear, all our engineers and all our financial resources will have to go for nuclear. We can pretty much kiss goodbye to carbon capture, renewables, insulation, etc – we won’t have the money, or the engineers, to do any of those.

Also, it is false propaganda to argue that Chernobyl was a less safe design than Western nuclear plant. What caused Chernobyl was human error, pure and simple. The Russian elite engineers thought they could disable the safety systems and do clever experiments. They got it wrong, as humans often do. Western engineers are human too.

Western engineers also have to cope with excessive secrecy which covers up problems and makes serious human errors more likely. I have worked for the nationalised CEGB and a privatised successor, and I can tell you to ignore ideology. These pressures apply in both cases. I’m a lot happier if I see corner-cutting on conventional coal plant, where the risk might be a handful of deaths, rather than on nuclear plant, where it might have meant writing off most of Kent.

Carbon capture is no panacea, but, tentatively, I would prefer to bet the farm on that. First, because China is going to burn vast quantities of coal, come what may. Our decision to go nuclear on one small island is not going to save the planet, if China go ahead with their plans. Our decision to develop carbon capture instead – which could also be sold to the Chinese – could be much more effective in combating global warming.

That said, companies like mine need to be cut some slack. They argue that carbon capture (CCS) is not yet developed. They are right. To be forced to build a massive CCS unit as part of the new Kingsnorth plant would be a huge gamble with untried technology. It would waste money. Yes, the companies’ demand to build new coal plant without committing to CCS is partly special pleading. Government needs to drive a hard bargain. But to insist on full CCS straight away would just be a stupidly tough demand. Nick Clegg please note.

And don’t forget that the new Kingsnorth generating at 45% efficiency will replace the present Kingsnorth generating at 35% efficiency, which means a big saving in carbon emissions. At the moment, UK policy is to do nothing much, and keep blatting away at 35% efficiency with ever more ageing plant, while covering up a lack of government action with a torrent of green verbiage. That makes no sense.

We should be insulating like crazy, we should have a crash programme to build passive houses, we should be developing CCS, and we should be building more wind farms. I would suggest that we can only afford all that if we say no to nuclear.

by Anony on April 19, 2009 at 12:58 am. Reply #

I don’t think much of the David Howarth paper referenced here. It contains no details of methodology, or costs, or anything else that you’d need to judge the validity of the conclusions.

by Ian Eiloart on April 19, 2009 at 11:11 am. Reply #

KL says “so you’re proposing we dispose of nuclear waste by creating massive nuclear missiles then? ” – well the proposal to fire waste into the sun is ill-informed, but not that ill-informed.

The reliability of current launch systems is abysmal, even for manned craft. It’s entirely not suitable for launching large amounts of hazardous waste. On the other hand, many interplanetary systems carry small nuclear generators, but not reactors.

Anyway, nuclear waste and nuclear warheads are entirely different things. You need a much much higher grade of fissile material to create a warhead. There simply isn’t any way that a launch fault could result in a nuclear explosion.

The waste problem, though, is a complete red herring when you look at the quantities involved. New reactors would create one-tenth of the waste of our current reactors, for the same output. We ALREADY have to deal with 90% of the waste that we’d have to dispose of if we replace our current nuclear capacity with new nuclear.

by Ian Eiloart on April 19, 2009 at 1:34 pm. Reply #

How infuriating. I am about to cast my postal vote for 4th June when I discover there are, after all, some Lib Dems who share my view about nuclear power. My problem is that the foot-shooting syndrome persists within the party policy-makers parlour.
Heaven knows who decided that the Luddites should lead on this topic. No doubt the policy will change in the fullness of time.
But not in time to secure my vote!
Farewell, Oh well-pressed trouser-man!

by 1mpert1nent on May 25, 2009 at 4:46 pm. Reply #

Leave your comment

Required.

Required. Not published.

If you have one.