Top ten myths about nuclear energy…

January 26th, 2008
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I found a post about this on NEI Nuclear Notes. The list can be found here from spiked-online. It’s a good example of the most common myths and the truth about nuclear energy.

One of my favorites has got to be the whole “we’re running out of uranium” thing. The truth is that uranium is not exactly a rare mineral. The reserves counted are generally those which are considered “easily recoverable” but even those are quite large compared to demand. Uranium is more common than gold, silver and many other minerals. It is possible that using the once-through PWR fuel cycle could begin to deplete known easily recoverable reserves of uranium within a century, but simple reprocessing at least triples the efficiency of the uranium cycle and use of fast spectrum reactors and breed cycles can increase the utilization of uranium from about 1% to nearly 100%. Add to that the fact that thorium is more than three times as abundant as uranium and it becomes clear that the fuel is secure for eons.


This entry was posted on Saturday, January 26th, 2008 at 8:31 am and is filed under Bad Science, Enviornment, Good Science, Nuclear. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site.
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13 Responses to “Top ten myths about nuclear energy…”

  1. 1
    DV82XL Says:

    The list boils down to:

    1) Uranium is running out

    2) Nuclear is not a low-carbon option

    3) Nuclear power is expensive

    4) Reactors produce too much waste

    5) Decommissioning is too expensive

    6) Building reactors takes too long

    7) Leukemia rates are higher near reactors

    8) Reactors lead to weapons proliferation

    9) Wind and wave power are more sustainable

    10) Reactors are a terrorist target

    To which we now have to add:

    11) Drought Could Force Nuke-Plant Shutdowns

    This highly inaccurate statement is the new canard of the antinukes, and has generated a lot of discussion on NEI Nuclear Notes Here and Here

    Yours truly has weighed in with the opinion that AP’s refusal to point out that ALL thermal plants, what ever the source of heat are just as vulnerable, even after being corrected by the folks at NEI smells of payed propaganda by coal. In fact AP’s response to NEI after several attempts to correct the story was: “We wanted to focus on nuclear.”

    Nuclear supporters are fighting a war on two fronts; on one hand we have the Greens who labor under the unsubstantiated belief that solar and wind are viable options, and the coal, gas and oil interests, who are running a dirty campaign from the shadows to undermine us with stories like this.

    And like the others this one won’t go away – we’ll be dealing with it now forever.


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  2. 2
    Jud12887 Says:

    Nuclear power might not be bad for an area if everything goes right. That is a big IF. They can blow up and then i don’t think that’s going to be a risk worth taking. They used to say a long time ago they were good but now we know better.


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  3. 3
    DV82XL Says:

    They don’t blow up Jud. Why don’t you try and get your facts straight before embracing yourself with ignorant statements.

    Major loss of containment even under an uncontrolled power excursion cannot happen with the types of reactors we use in North America. People don’t seem to get it: Three-mile was proof that a major meltdown is contained – nothing happened outside the chamber at all.


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  4. 4
    yZajal Says:

    “They can blow up and then i don’t think that’s going to be a risk worth taking”

    You. Are. Retarded.

    Nuclear reactors can’t “blow up”.


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  5. 5
    Malph Says:

    If the nuclear reactor has a large positive void coefficient it can lead to a pressurised steam explosion that can cause the release of large amounts of radioactive material. Fortunately, with good design you can make intrinsically safe reactors.

    I would, however, disagree with point 10, I think a nuclear power station makes a good target for terrorists. It seems unlikely that they would do enough damage to cause a serious release of radiation, but it would certainly cost a lot of time and money. However, I do think there are some much better targets out there.

    I find it unlikely that my country will adopt nuclear as a source of electricity, and I have mixed felling about that. I definitely prefer nuclear over coal and other fossil fuel power stations, but I think thermal solar and wind are viable as part of the energy mix and I would like to see a hell of a lot more funding for development.

    Final interesting fact: I am not sure about if this is still the case, but about two decades ago coal power plants actually released more radioactive material to the environment than nuclear power due to the high amount of naturally occurring radioactive material in coal.


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  6. 6
    Michael Ejercito Says:

    Uranium is more common than gold?

    I guess we should start conservin’ when that is no longer true.


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  7. 7
    KLA Says:

    Actually, uranium is about as common as tin. Thorium 5 times as plentiful. Extracting it from the ocean water, which will cost about $300.- per pound, still has no impact on the price of energy produced from it. And that uranium is constantly replenished by river mud. Calculations have shown that energy from uranium or thorium would definitely fit the title “renewable” more than solar or wind. We would run out of them about the same time the sun stops shining if we use it effectively.


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  8. 8
    drbuzz0 Says:

    Yes, uranium is not what you would call a “rare” metal by any definition. Not even close. When they say a country has “large uranium deposits” it only means it’s concentrated enough in veins that it’s cheap to mine by conventional methods. Aside from that, fuel cost is not really a major expense in nuclear energy because the energy density is so high.

    The US, for example, has rather poor uranium resources compared to Canada, Kazakstan or Australia. But during the cold war the government established domestic production as a national security issue. They produced thousands of tons in Colorado, Utah, New Mexico. The only reason it is not done now is that it’s a bit cheaper to import it.

    Uranium is not in short supply. We can’t run out of uranium. Maybe run out of concentrated conventionally minable supplies, but even that will take a LONG time.

    Now thorium… add that and you end up multiplying the supply by at least four times. And consider that the once-through fuel cycle of uranium reactors as is leaves more than 99% of the energy behind and… well you get the point…


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  9. 9
    DV82XL Says:

    And that’s with current technology – using molten salt reactors makes the picture even rosier, and they eat their own waste, and they don’t require high-pressure containment (or high-pressure plumbing of any sort), and they can’t melt down (obviously). Time to get that design out of mothballs and get cracking.


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  10. 10
    Chrissy Michelle Strawn Says:

    Thank you for the information presented here. I have never been against the use of Nuclear energy. I was confused as to why the reactor here in Oregon was given up for dead. It may have cost some money to fix the piping, but maintenance is requried in any major strcuture. Yes it is time to bring the nuclear power option out of the moth balls.


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  11. 11
    Matt Wadwell Says:

    One problem about the report is that at least one of the sources are incorrect…..

    It states in point 10), that “The US Department of Energy sponsored an independent computer-modelling study of the effects of a fully fuelled Boeing 767-400 hitting the reactor containment vessel. Under none of the possible scenarios was containment breached (21). “

    The problem is, if you actually read the source (“Electrical Power Research Institute: Probabilistic Consequence Analysis of Security Threats – A Prototype Vulnerability Assessment Process for Nuclear Power Plants” – which can be found here – http://www.epri.com – and then search on the title), on page 1-10 (or page 36 of the pdf document), you will find the statement:

    “Aircraft Risk: The VA scope specifically excludes risk associated with attacks from the air.”

    So it would appear that the author of the document (Rob Johnson) is incorrect, or that he quoted from a different source…..

    (BTW, source (19) has the wrong URL address – minor nit though.)

    Otherwise the document was quite good!

    Later,
    Matt


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  12. 12
    Dr Bob Says:

    What I’d like to see is a standardized and proven nuclear plant design that can be certified once, then replicated across the nation about 50 to 100 times, spreading the design and certification costs across multiple plants.

    It’s neither efficient, nor timely to custom build and certify each unique plant.

    And let’s also work on a reprocessing technologies and facilities to minimize the waste.


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  13. 13
    DV82XL Says:

            Dr Bob said:

    What I’d like to see is a standardized and proven nuclear plant design that can be certified once, then replicated across the nation about 50 to 100 times, spreading the design and certification costs across multiple plants.

    It’s neither efficient, nor timely to custom build and certify each unique plant.

    This plan has certainly worked for CANDU type reactors.


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