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Reply #28: What were the real costs of earlier non-nuclear power generation methods? [View All]

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TheMadMonk Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Jul-17-09 01:10 AM
Response to Reply #1
28. What were the real costs of earlier non-nuclear power generation methods?
Coal even today is considered notoriously dirty. In it's heyday it was incredibly filty. Environmenally disastrous and a killer from the moment we wrested it from the ground till the time it's ash settled in the lungs of a kid in London.

Oil only marginally better than coal in terms of its impact and increasingly expensive to find ways to mitigate that impact.

Hydro has it's own environmental and even greenhouse costs.



Nuclear power is one industry, where fear of consequences has ensured that extreme measures are taken to account for all unforseen costs and potential risks of the technology. Of course it's going to be more expensive than older highly developed methods in which certain impacts (past or present) are discounted or ignored altogether.

A further part of the cost of nuclear energy is that regulatory approval for advanced designs that address a good many of the objections that are valid to some degree or another with respect to existing designs, is essentially non-existent. Instead, increasingly aging infrastructure is propped up, patched and only incrementally upgraded at an ever increasing cost.


Let's start with setting aside for the moment the idea of complete site rehabilitation. Any existing nuclear reactor can be decommissioned by removing it's fuel supply. At that point we have decades to deal with what remains. No matter when we do decommission, this is going to be an issue, and the longer we leave it, the more aged will be the buildings and reactor superstructure, and the less time we will have to make final disposition.

Designs for suitable (or at the very least much less dangerous) replacements ready to be built right now do exist, and the solutions range from rail car sized units suitable for a small town, up to as big as or larger than anything existing. More experimental options offer even more exciting posibilities such as nuclear "incineration" of radioactive waste.

By expanding nuclear power generating capacity to replace greenhouse poluting plants, we at the very least mittigate a known current major environmental threat and can managably defer any impact for a considerable period of time. Long enough in my opinion for economical, industrial scale nuclear incineration to become a reality.
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