Nuclear power

Lord Soley

Apart from drawing considerable satisfaction from the thoughtful exchanges below on nuclear power and the Japanese Tsunami I am struck by how different (and better) the debate is then  it would have been some years ago. The people and the media in Japan are handling this much better than the media here where even the BBC had one TV journalist yesterday saying “…now they face the horror of a silent killer…” and staring into the camera as though he was playing the lead role in a horror movie! This is tabloid headlines at their worst. As Jonathan points out in his comment on my last post ‘nobody has been killed’. That doesn’t mean there aren’t problems with nuclear power but it does suggest they are manageable – and it is a lot safer than coal mining especially if you take the carbon emissions into account. It is also true that fusion power holds out even safer long term potential then the current fission power stations.

Good for this blog holding up the banner of science – read the comments below is you are prepared to be persuaded! http://lordsoftheblog.net/2011/03/14/nuclear-power/#comments

22 comments for “Nuclear power

  1. jake420@hushmail.com
    16/03/2011 at 9:50 am

    Last night I heard the BBC say “so how scared should we be” followed by ‘experts’ detailing the Sievert unit (measure of radiation dose). The problem was that current levels were the same as a CT scan… so maybe ‘we’ shouldn’t be too ‘scared’. So they then turn to the 50 of so workers at the plant trying to bring it under control and discuss, with another expert, their radiation risks. But the expert points out that all the workers “know the risks” and are there anyways – true heros. But no mention of their bravery.. in fact I think the media WANTS them to get radiation poisoning so it makes a better story. Without the heavy impact that certain doom brings the coverages focus then turns to the “fear, not panic” that the plant at Fukushima brings. They then rope some poor individual who has lost everything (including their family) into showing a reporter around the remains of their house whilst they shed a tear at their savage and indiscriminate loss and the reporter waits for his translation..

    I understand we want to know what is going on and there is genuine empathy from normal people around the world, but I constantly feel as if all coverage, barring a few knowledgeable sources, use disasters like this to sensationalise, increase viewing figures or just scare people to keep them watching/reading longer. The BBC is not immune from this yellow journalism. I think I will be making a complaint to the BBC. But what can be done? It seems that empathy and rational truth can’t get in the way of a juicy news story, even if it ends up effecting policy here or round the world in a negative way…

  2. Lord Soley
    Clive Soley
    16/03/2011 at 12:21 pm

    Quite right Jake, the headline in the Daily Mail today is: “Nation in the grip of nuclear panic”. A translation of that might be ‘The Daily Mail wants you to panic – don’t miss your opportunity’!!
    It’s pathetic from a newspaper that use to talk proudly of the British stiff upper lip!
    Thank heavans they don’t get the Daily Mail in Japan.

  3. Carl.H
    16/03/2011 at 3:36 pm

    “As Jonathan points out in his comment on my last post ‘nobody has been killed”.

    And no one from the UK died as a result of Chernobyl but what of the Welsh sheep unable to go to slaughter due to high levels of radiation ?

    http://www.chernobylee.com/blog/2008/12/effects-of-chernobyl-still-fel.php

    http://www.dailypost.co.uk/news/north-wales-news/2010/07/06/farmers-in-wales-still-stalked-by-chernobyl-55578-26791477/

    What of the cancers that can take time to take hold.

    What of John Gummers British Beef is safe, from 1990 ? No one died straight away from that either.

    Of course we can go the other way as did Edwina Curry and it had a ruinous effect on the egg industry.

    We cannot afford to be complacent in either direction, the unexpected does happen you simply cannot design for every possible scenario.

    At present there are still investigations going on into radiation from mobile phones and the possible effects on children. We cannot jump onto the bandwagon of look it’s safe cos no one has died in 4 days. Radiation has long term effects, some still felt in Japan from WWII.

    I shall remember my noble Lords words if anything untoward should occur in any of our Nuclear reactors and put his name down as a volunteer. What he says is tantamount to a young smoker saying look I haven’t died yet from it have I ?

    “Japanese officials admitted that the explosion spewed doses of up to 0.4 Sieverts within the vicinity of the nuclear reactor – which is 200 times the annual intake of radiation for a person staying in a normal environment.

    Research conducted at the Hong Kong Observatory said that if radiation exposure exceeds 0.1 Sieverts, there will be increased chance of cancer, mutations, and deformed babies.

    A one-time exposure to 0.5 to 0.75 Sieverts of radiation can cause nausea and vomiting within hours, followed by hair loss.

    While, an exposure to one Sievert can lead to hemorrhaging in weeks.”

    http://www.mb.com.ph/articles/309768/effects-radiation

    • jake____
      16/03/2011 at 7:39 pm

      What about the billions of cubic meters of carbon dioxide and other particulates that are pumped into the atmosphere every year? What about the global warming and associated sea-level rises that could kill and displace millions? What about the hundreds of coal workers who die in mines every year to provide the power stations with coal? What about the BP oil disaster? Maybe we should just stop all power generation and resource extraction as its not 100% safe?

      Please recognise that everything in this world has risk, including power generation. Each has positives and negatives. Nuclear fission has zero carbon but higher risk if something goes wrong. Coal, oil and gas extraction and combustion have thier own risks (including cancers/diseases from the particulates) and damaging environmental consequences. Wind uses a lot of resources (especially rare-earth metals) and doesn’t generate a constant power supply. Solar is also limited to certain locations at under 40% efficient (usually under 20%) with a huge amount of energy needed to create silicon-based cells. Wave can destroy underwater ecosystems. We need steady and stable power supplies 24hrs of every day. Shall you remember your own words if sea-levels rise?

      As I said before, fusion is the future, it is clean and safe and we should be putting a mammouth effort into harnessing it so we can stop bickering about the other sub-par options we currently utlitise. Why do you only ever focus on the negative things associated with everything?

  4. Carl.H
    16/03/2011 at 11:23 pm

    “Why do you only ever focus on the negative things associated with everything?”

    I said something good once, everyone thought I was ill.
    😉

    “Shall you remember your own words if sea-levels rise?”

    I live by the sea so should be one of the first.

    What I do as I see it is scrutinise by looking for any problems that may or may not occur. One has to look for the negatives, it would not be a fair debate without such. What has been written by the pro lobby so far is that the risks involved are minute and that in Japan it was all hype. This is clearly not the case, though we may not see people die for a number of years.

    I do not disagree with your facts although I haven’t personally verified them but we must not jump in without first assessing all possible consequences.

    We need steady and stable power supplies 24hrs of every day.

    Until even they reach a saturation point. What we need is education and ways of using power more conservatively. Power consumation has grown 2% yearly for the last 20 years, yes I’m just as guilty.

    I should state with an ill sister suffering possibly effects of early radiation treatment (1960) I probably lean toward anti. However what I have asked is not anti but merely ALL facts be taken into consideration and not jump on this bandwagon that everything is fine and dandy in Japan and no one has died, as of yet.

    • jake____
      17/03/2011 at 7:28 pm

      @Carl.H, just the once? LOL!

      I see where you are coming from and most definitely agree that problems must be looked at when going forward with anything, especially something that can be as risky as nuclear fission. However, I think you discredit some of the scientists and engineers, or maybe just don’t have full appreciation of the process. It is very difficult to design, build, maintain and select a site for a nuclear plant. Just about every scenario that can be imagined is compensated for and redundancies built in. That is why, with one of the most powerful earthquakes ever recorded the worst outcome of Fukushima is a radiation leak, but the levels of this would never be able to be as large as chernobyl due to it being a fundamentally different design. And I think credit is due there.

      The fact is we do need an every increasing amount of power and as I said before, each have their risks. Each can and do kill in different ways. For example, in China in 2005 there were 5,986 deaths from coal mining (http://www.clb.org.hk/en/node/19316). Chernobyl had around 50 directly attributed to it with 4000+ estimated over time. So the fact that no one has died yet from Fukushima is actually a big deal. I think that the term ‘nuclear’ just scares people as most don’t understand it or the technology and therefore act more irrationally than when 50 people are killed in an oil rig explosion. I just yearn for better journalism and more rationality, because, if you look at it carefully, nuclear is actually pretty safe by comparison.

      But once again, all of these safety concerns and power needs could be nearly negated by fusion. Of course it is still wise to live more power-efficiently but for Deuterium reactions we can extract this heavy isotope from sea water – and only 250kg is required for a 1GW power plant per year, by comparison 2,700,000kg of coal would be required for the same power output http://www.iter.org/sci/fusionfuels.

      • Carl.H
        17/03/2011 at 8:54 pm

        Only the once Jake, I make Victor Meldrew look quite gay.

        There are various things I think we need to take into account here. Most of us elderly victims of the blog will have live through the Cuban Crisis and I believe two cold war ones. We will remember well the leaflets telling us to climb under a table, or take a door off and put a mattress over the top, take lots of water etc. Of course it was all tosh, I lived in Central London at that time and the Council doors and my lumpy mattress may not have lived upto Government expectations. So of course those that remember that and all the other times Government stated loud and clear ” it’s perfectly safe to eat beef” etc., sticks a bit.

        I personally would not like to live near a nuclear plant or indeed be a wing walker, who knows they possibly have similar death rates. We have to be careful how we rationalise the odds especially in light of a chernobyl-esque disaster which means that area may not be completely safe for centuries.

        I understand that these plants would not be built without stringent safety measures but accidents do happen see:

        http://www.guardian.co.uk/news/datablog/2011/mar/14/nuclear-power-plant-accidents-list-rank#data

        According to various green organisations there is also a case to be made for cancers in and around the plants. I cannot verify such and would not dare to put a link to a possible one sided piece.

        Am I perhaps a NIMBY (not in my back yard)? Yes without a doubt but as you say then where do I get my power? In order to maintain our consumerist lifestyle it will become a necessity for Nuclear power plants to be built, I really cannot see all of us joining the hippies in wigwams in some forest. It does however require that all us scaredy cats put pressure on those designing and building to if anything provide more safety measures than maybe necessary. To thoroughly test and vet the science beyond normal circumstances.

        You’re obviously a scientific man with a good deal of knowledge and enthusiasm, I’m just a family guy worried about his childrens future.

        P.S. As a scientific man can you tell me when global warming is coming cos it’s bloomin freezing and getting near the end of March. I need to turn the heating off to save energy not to mention a few quid before things go awry come April.

        • jake____
          18/03/2011 at 10:30 am

          @Carl.H, I look forward to the next time you make Victor Meldrew look quite gay again in that case! :-p

          I did not live through the Cuban Crisis so infer that I may be too young to remember a lot of the negative hype, scaremongering and genuine fear that surrounded both nuclear power and nuclear weaponry at their peak of international instability (politically). But I agree, I would not want to live near a nuclear power plant, especially a fission one. For that matter I would not want to live next to any powerplant, be it coal, oil, gas or even wind (they are very noisy). On the other hand we do need the power.

          All I’m saying is that I think we/the scaredycats have put the right amount of pressure on to ensure safe designs (if you look at that Guardian table ‘most’ of the accidents were contained within the installations, which is again credit to the design). The problem is most people don’t understand the technology/risks so see 3 deaths from a nuclear radiation as far far worse than 6000 from coal mining as it has the word ‘nuclear’ in it and conjures up all the usual fears.

          As a side note, I doubt anyone here or anywhere else would have an issue with having an MRI, but the technical description of it is NMRI – Nuclear Magnetic Resonance Imaging, the nuclear standing for the alteration of the magnetic moment of some of the protons in the water molecules inside our body, causing their spin to flip and when the magnetic field is turned off the proton spin flips back and releases energy which is interpreted to produce an image (thats a very basic description). So nothing ‘nuclear’ in terms of radiation, but when implemented in hospitals they had to drop the ‘N’ due to the irrational fear it produced. It is this fear, sometimes irrational (look at the panic buying of Iodine tablets in the states currently) that reduces uptake of an efficient and relatively (by comparison to the others in this case) safe power source.

          p.s. bad news on the UK heating up, last I heard was that the melting of the north pole would desalinate the Atlantic, disrupting ocean heating patterns and causing the jet-stream to falter.. as that brings most of our heat during the winter our winters would get colder for longer..

        • maude elwes
          18/03/2011 at 10:40 am

          My response to these men who will insist there is nothing to fear from nuclear reactors and their assertions that Chernobyl was a one off is:

          Do we need more than a one off?

          http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZjUfhy1rQEY

          http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WfSHWrQl0NY

          We don’t yet know the fall out from Japan.

          Do you really want to take this chance with our childrens lives?

          • 18/03/2011 at 2:16 pm

            Maude, I fail to see how halting the construction of new reactors in Europe will change in situation in Japan at all.

            Also, you have continually failed to explain why you are so concerned about nuclear power, yet don’t care about all the people who were killed by other aspects of the natural disaster. How do we protect people from earthquakes or tsunamis? If you can answer these questions, people might believe you are something other than an anti-nuclear at all costs campaigner with a single issue on the agenda.

            If you are really worried about unnecessary deaths, why not start with smoking? Passive smoking on its own kills more innocent people each year than have ever died in nuclear accidents. And that’s even without considering the millions who kill themselves each year by smoking.

            But no, you continue to pick on something useful that can actually play its part in saving the planet from climate change (in combination with renewable and other technologies) – perhaps saving millions of lives.

          • jake____
            18/03/2011 at 5:51 pm

            @maude elwes, 10-17,000 dead or missing from the earthquake and tsunami.. I think you are missing the real tragedy here.

            Do you want me to google you some pictures of car crashes? Just plain old car crashes that have killed and maimed 100’s of times more people, children, women, babies than all nuclear plant incidents combined. Turn off the safety filter and see what comes up. Why do we still have cars when they kill thousands of children each year? Do you want to take the chance with cars.. we should probably ban them right.. for the kids?

            Do I want to take this chance RE: nuclear power with our children’s lives? Of course not, that is why UK (read non-soviet) generators are designed in a completely different way – Chernobyl had a positive void coefficient with its coolant, meaning a problem causes an acceleration in the nuclear reaction whereas Fukushima has a negative one – which is why the reaction was slowed seconds after the initial shock waves from the quake were picked up (for further info/education http://www.newscientist.com/article/dn20257-why-fukushima-daiichi-wont-be-another-chernobyl.html)

            There is fear and risk from everything in this world, I just wish people like you understood the science as not only would we get less hysteria but less media feeding it as they would know the public wouldn’t stand for it. But alas not everyone paid attention to physics or to interpret statistics in maths at school so we are left with yellow journalism feeding know-nothings whilst those in the know don’t worry anywhere near as much – when you see scientists, engineers and doctors seriously panicking, then it is time to be scared. The safety considerations with implimenting nuclear power leave me feeling safe.

            One more thing maude, do you want your children to live in a world without electricity and the health benefits/lifespan increases it brings? If you want electricity but no risk, please please detail how YOU would approach this as I would be fascinated to know???

  5. 18/03/2011 at 3:40 pm

    Here’s a useful article by David Spiegelhalter, Professor of the Public Understanding of Risk at Cambridge University: “Japan nuclear threat: The tsunami is the bigger tragedy”

    http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-asia-pacific-12785274

    I have to say that while the BBC are guilty, as others, of concentrating on the nuclear aspect of the natural disaster, they are far more balanced than many of the newspapers.

    • jake____
      21/03/2011 at 12:24 am

      @Jonathan, that is precisely what I’ve/we’ve been trying to get across to people in this blog-debate!! I think he hits the nail on the head with “Maybe the generation who know nothing of the Cold War are growing up with a different perspective on radiation?”.

      I think it runs a bit deeper than that though – we are all Human and we all act with emotion. But some of us let fact/evidence/science guide emotion as opposed to filling that space with fear and panic, no matter what they have ‘lived through’…

  6. maude elwes
    19/03/2011 at 2:17 pm

    Oh, I see, the truth brings cries of, we are going to be ‘done’ out of our nuclear expansion cash if we don’t shut this idiot up.

    You ask why I don’t care about those affected by the tsunami, and, or other disasters around the world. And you know what, you couldn’t be more wrong. I have family, right this moment, in Japan. So I care greatly. Far more than you have any right to ask. But, nature and the workings of, are beyond human control. The Japanese people realise this profoundly. However, the expansion of nuclear power is ‘man made’. And we have a responsibility to those who come after us, just as we have a responsibility to those who are here now.

    Additionally, this is a political website where we can express our thoughts on the political moves of our Parliament. And just as you do, I make my comments.

    My comments don’t imply I am a nuclear scientist. But, even if I am not a scientist, it does not mean I have to remain silenced when there are endless examples of what this potentially destructive power can do and has done.

    If you feel no concern about that, but, can get this irate when those who do care bring the truth to the fore, then you are wanting to hide something, for fear you will lose if you don’t shut off the exposure.

    I am not responsible for finding alternative power making. However, I do know that going along with that which is destructive because its easy, is not the way to go. Man is a very clever being. Man came up with the idea of nuclear power, and man will come up with a safer alternative. If you let them. And if you don’t accept that which is unacceptable.

    I don’t accept there isn’t a better way. So, take it or leave it. You will not intimidate me by ridicule.

    • 19/03/2011 at 8:38 pm

      I fail to see where you are being ridiculed. You express some opinions, and other people come back with counter-arguments. You can say what you want, but don’t expect to go unchallenged, particularly when you attempt to take the moral high-ground by talking about “our children’s lives”. You also talk about the “truth”, seemingly confusing facts with your personal opinion.

      You say, “But, nature and the workings of, are beyond human control… However, the expansion of nuclear power is ‘man made’.” I still fail to see why the fact that a natural disaster triggered an alert at a nuclear power station is any different from an earthquake reducing man-made buildings to rubble, killing hundreds of people, or a tsunami sweeping away man-made buildings, cars and trains that were near the coast, killing thousands. If we are going to stop building nuclear power stations in case a natural disaster triggers an incident that could kill a few people, shouldn’t we also stop building any housing within several miles of the coast in case there is a tsunami?

      I actually agree that we need to develop “safer”, or more to the point, more sustainable alternatives to nuclear fission. Much more money should be put into fusion research, for example. Unfortunately, there isn’t time now for these alternatives to replace the existing nuclear power stations in the UK, which must be decommissioned soon. The only way to keep the lights on is either to replace them with new nuclear stations, or else to build new coal- and other fossil fuel-fired power stations. Given that choice, nuclear is the better option.

      • maude elwes
        20/03/2011 at 5:23 pm

        @Jonathan:

        Unfortunately, there ‘has’ to be time to find a safer alternative.

        I repeat, the real problem with the Japanese reactors was, they were old, worn out and needed to be closed and replaced prior to the earthquake and tsunami. As I wrote previously, had this action taken place when it should, the earthquake would have had far less impact, the radiation fall out would have been less powerful and the appalling situation we see in Japan now not quite so terrifying for the people. And you have no idea what is taking place there in respect of this.

        What a ridiculous comment you make on my ‘not’ being worried about the fates of nature and the impact of that. Are you some kind of nut? If we have no power over the movement of the planet, and we clearly do not, why would anyone in their right mind sit in consternation of what may happen if the earth splits in two. But, by contrast, I often think of the effect that could take place in Switzerland as a result of the Large Hadron Collider, in which the UK has a leading role. Now, that is worth having a thought over, for again, it is ‘man made.’ Not an act of God. As the insurance companies like to term fate. But a deliberate build by man, with his deep and intimate knowledge of what may happen if things don’t go to plan.

        http://public.web.cern.ch/public/en/lhc/lhc-en.html

        In other words, a game of chance with the lives of people, without them having a say in whether they want this gamble taken with them and their future.

        And if you read back to the first post made to my thoughts on this matter you will see the ridicule began at once and continued through every post in disagreement.

        And why did you dislike the ‘our children’ comment. Prick your unhealthy mind set did it? Stab at the conscience a little? Or, perhaps you felt it may make others think of their children and the possible consequences of such ‘man made’ dangers?

        And as far as my thoughts being ‘made up.’ Well the pictures strike a cord of reality to me, especially as I was not the producer. And I am sure they would move any sane person who saw them, tremendously. It’s you who is making up the idea that nuclear power is the answer to our needs and is as safe as houses. I am only the messenger of doubt. And that seems to have you foaming at the mouth. Doesn’t it?

        • 21/03/2011 at 11:04 am

          Ignoring all the personal attacks and sticking to what little content there is…

          There is nothing dangerous about the LHC, but assuming for a moment there was, yes it is man-made and if it spontaneously caused the deaths of a few thousand people, that would be the fault of the scientists who constructed it. However, if there was a massive earthquake in Geneva that caused a tsunami in Lac Léman that killed ~20,000 people, and also caused the LHC to somehow break and kill 100 people, I’d say that was a natural disaster that killed around 20,000 people. The LHC component of it would be pretty insignificant. In the same way, I don’t blame the architects and engineers who built buildings in Japan that killed people in the earthquake – man-made constructions that killed people due to a natural disaster.

          The Japanese reactors would have operated perfectly safely until their decommissioning had there been no earthquake. Even so, the new nuclear power stations that we will have in the UK will be built with much newer technology that’s even safer. Just think: if the new stations aren’t approved, they might have to extend the lives of the ageing reactors instead. I’d much rather have nice, shiny, new ones with the more modern technology.

          I can see you don’t really have anything new to add except for increasingly vicious insults, so I’m not going to bother continuing this discussion. Other readers will make up their own minds. I see you are suddenly a regular contributor of comments on this blog. I do recommend you try the quiz. Perhaps Lord Norton will send you a House of Lords pen as a prize – assuming he can find a green one, of course!

        • Dave H
          21/03/2011 at 1:15 pm

          Part of the reason that many nuclear stations are old and ought to be shut down is that for a long time it was unfashionable to build new ones. Someone in the nuclear industry reckons it’s cheaper to build gas-fired plants using shale gas reserves rather than new nuclear plants.

          As for the Large Hadron Collider, what do you think caused the Big Bang that started this universe? It may well be that someone in the previous one used an LHC and opened a wormhole through which all the matter in the previous universe was sucked in near zero time to form the starting conditions for this one.

    • jake____
      21/03/2011 at 12:01 am

      @maude, you actually highlight a point I would like to make but you may not appreciate. You express your “thoughts” and “comments” on a subject you admit limited knowledge (to say the least). You then state that you have brought “truth to the fore” and that we are scared we will “lose”… It is precisely this type of opinionated rationale that guides, or mis-guides, so much policy – people expressing opinion with no facts or understanding about the subject they are commenting on. It is the very same people who do this that are guided by scaremongering media/governments, those who read one negative article about something and write it off for the rest of their lives as ‘unsafe’. So yes, some people do fear that “exposure” to risks will result in a loss as the majority just won’t understand – as you are demonstrating. Nuclear technology is pretty safe by comparison and zero-carbon, so no man-made-global-warming…

      To quote Churchill – “These, Gentlemen, are the opinions upon which I base my facts.” A
      great man, but this is not always the best way to make policy… we need evidence and science in our policy, not blind opinion.

      Yes, you are not responsible for alternative power making, but, if people such as yourself put as much passion into trying to get politicians to e.g. finance nuclear fusion technology as you did bashing every negative aspect of nuclear power whilst completely ignoring the benefits it brings (which you enjoy, even if tacitly I hasten to add) we would be far further along in our path to alternative and safer power than where we are. Also, if you are not responsible for alternative power making, why are you trying to limit our choices?

      With Fukushima I have read variable sources, compared them to test their accuracy AND suggested how we could widen our field of view when it comes to energy and I’m not a politician or nuclear physicist. All you have done is continuously highlight the negative aspects without understanding the technology, risks or benefits.

      So, yes, continue to voice your opinion! This is a free-country after all! Just please please try be more informed, as your passion and compassion could do far more good than us techies showing boring data and statistics that confirms the real truth behind the matter, if directed at the right places/people. Don’t blindly follow anecdote or media biased by fighting for profits and viewing-figures…

  7. lftrsuk1
    21/03/2011 at 6:04 pm

    I’ve just had an email reply from Michael Meacher, who says: “I fear the Fukushima disaster is going to set back any nuclear renaissance for years, if not indefinitely”.

    The specter of my worst fears may come to pass, insofar as Chris Huhne views on the use of CC&S and renewables to realise our carbon targets, will prevail. All of that so valuable, hard-earned income from tax-payers being could be wasted on these inconsequential ‘solutions’.

    I have just sent the email below to every member of The Select Committee on Energy and Climate Change. I would greatly appreciate it, if you would take on board the views of the inventor of the ‘problem’ LWRs, advise colleagues of these views and mention the reactor he wanted to see deployed for civil use. It was only a cruel twist of fate that this deployment did not happen 40 years ago.

    ——————-//———————

    Dear ———,

    Subject: Expert Opinion on Nuclear Reactor Safety.

    The inventor and patent holder of Light Water Reactors (LWRs), railed against their use for civil electrical power and heat generation, because he was so aware of their accident fallibility. The worst civil nuclear reactor accidents in the ‘West’, at Three Mile Island and Fukushima, were in plants which are versions of LWRs.

    The Enrico Fermi Award is an award honoring scientists of international stature for their lifetime achievement in the development, use, or production of energy. 1980 – Alvin M. Weinberg, the very man who invented the LWR.

    You really ought to give the opinions of this man more weight than the expert opinion of your UK nuclear industry advisers, who will still be pushing for Gen III+ new-build reactors. I imagine you are preparing responses to the headlines of the unelected media, biased towards alarmist clarion calls from the ‘anti-nuke’ lobby that, you know, will have no truck with the accident-tainted Arreva EPR or Westinghouse AP1000. Before you put new nuclear-build on hold for another 30 years, please give your utmost consideration to the reactor Weinberg championed for civil use.

    In his autobiography Weinberg confessed:
    “I became obsessed with the idea that humankind’s whole future depended on the breeder. For Society generally to achieve and maintain a standard of living of today’s developed countries depends on the availability of relatively cheap, inexhaustible sources of energy.”

    When he says breeder, he is talking about the Liquid Fluoride Thorium Reactor (LFTR), which breeds fertile thorium-232 into the nuclear fissile fuel uranium-233. The inexhaustible source of energy is thorium, which is 3½ times more abundant than uranium and currently treated as a ‘waste’ product in the mining of rare earths. There are sufficient thorium resources to last tens of thousands of years.

    Politically/militarily, the experimentation and operation of LFTRs ceased 40 years ago, leaving archives of paper files – remember those? Weinberg died in 2006, still believing widespread deployment of LFTRs was the solution to many of the worst problems facing humankind. The world’s leading authority on LFTRs now is Kirk Sorensen, who resurrected all of this data in 2000.

    As a most urgent action, before you make any commitments on the future of the UK’s nuclear industry, would you please invite Kirk Sorensen over to do a presentation on LFTRs to your Select Committee and your nuclear advisers?

    I would most appreciate your early reply.

    Regards,

  8. jake____
    23/03/2011 at 7:54 pm

    to reiterate what I was saying about relative risks: http://www.newscientist.com/data/images/archive/2805/28053601.jpg

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