Nuclear power is a fnancial disaster, and the world’s elite know this

Because of costs, the de facto “solution” is firstly to extend reactor operating lifetimes, then partly decommission and dismantle reactors when they are taken out of service, delaying the decontamination of nuclear sites, and pushing all costs into the future. Unfortunately and until the reactors are made safe, they by definition pose almost open-ended risks. These extend from “simple” accidents and technical malfunction, to operator errors, and to the risk of them becoming giant Dirty Bomb targets in civil war, international war, or terror attacks. Even the most extreme non-nuclear industrial risks, notably at “Seveso or Bhopal type” chemical facilities, are pale by comparison.

Nuclear Power Dirty Bomb   The Market Oracle, Oct 28, 2013  By: Andrew_McKillop THE 100-YEAR CURSE Within the next 15 – 20 years as many as 100 industry standard Westinghouse-type 900 MW PWR pressurized water reactors, concentrated in the “old nuclear’ countries will have to be decommissioned, dismantled and their sites made safe – unless political deciders maintain the sinister farce of rubber stamping reactor operating lifetime extensions. The decontamination process could take as long as 100 years. In several countries, especially Germany, Switzerland and probably Japan the dangerous game of politically-decided reactor life extensions – to push back the date of final decommissioning – has already ended or is ending.

But when it does end, nuclear debt will go into overdrive from its already extreme high setting. Nuclear power is capital intensive, lives on subsidies, thrives on false hopes and dies in debt.

Putting a figure on how much the nuclear “decomm” story will cost and how long it will take is in fact impossible – and is signalled by the tell-tale anticipative action of nuclear friendly governments. One stark example is the UK, which now sets decomm as an activity that will only need to start at a generous, or foolhardy 30 or 40 years after the reactor was powered down and removed from the national power grid. Until then, the reactor can sit on the horizon as a contribution to national culture or something “in perfect safety of course”. Decomm periods could or might therefore be 100 years.

DECOMMISSIONING SAGAS  As already noted above, there are no rules, standards and best practice in decommissioning, dismantling and “making safe” or “securing” the former sites of reactors. So there is no standard cost for getting rid of reactors. It is a case-by-case process. This alone prods the highly political decision to set a “delay” between reactor shut down, and decommissioning which as noted above, in the extreme UK case is now set at 30-40 years.

Before the final shut down, of course, reactor operating life extensions can squeeze some more power out of the reactor – and further delay the moment when it has to be decommissioned. Only idiots can pretend this does not expose the reactor to increased risks of accidents. Ask yourselves if you prefer to fly in a 40-year-old airplane, or a new one.

Real-life decomm sagas, as distinct from emergency dismantling following a serious or catastrophic accident as in the case of Three Mile Island, Chernobyl and Fukushima are always – always – a tale of vastly underestimated initial costs and timelines for decomm, followed by massive cost overruns and time overruns. Plenty of examples concern the now-quarter-century old projects, and longer, where initial cost estimates have been exceeded by actual spending by 5 or 10 times, and the decomm project’s time for completion multiplied by 3. And today the projects are not yet fully completed!……..

Unfortunately for nuclear apologists or “nuclear buffs” there are no or few economies of scale. Decomm of a big reactor costs more than decomm of a small reactor, due to factors including the amount of “nuclear plumbing”, or reactor power and fuel circuits, and total radiological inventory or quantity of highly radioactive materials present in the reactor when decomm started. For the Brennilis reactor, of 70 MW, simply emptying the “nuclear plumbing” took 7 years. The decision to dismantle the fuel circuits was itself “controversial” and imposed by the UN’s IAEA against French government wishes – because of costs. The French government wanted to simply leave the Brennilis reactor on the horizon for “about 40 years”, and then start dismantling. If that option had been chosen, the total decomm period would likely have been 50 – 75 years, or more.

Build a reactor in 1962. Stop using it in 1985. Finally remove it about 2055. Spend 700 million euros doing so. This 70 MW reactor officially produced a total of 6.235 billion kWh in its lifetime, so the per-kWh cost of its “rather expensive” nuclear power can be calculated, of course excluding its initial building costs and operating costs throughout its lifetime.

As with other reactors, Brennilis decomm options also included the jargon terms “safestore” or fully enclosing the site and delaying full decomm for an arbitrary but long period, and “sarcophage” decomm, or “entombment”, that is building a dome over the entire reactor assembly, and its spent fuel, then possibly covering that dome or structure with an earth berm up to 30 – 40 metres thick. The laborious and extreme high-cost attempts to build the “definitive sarcophage” at the Chernobyl site have continued on and off for 27 years with total spending to date in the region of 1.5 – 2.5 billion euros, on top of and excluding several-hundred-billion euros spent on emergency action following the 1986 disaster, and a highly disputed death toll figure for fatalities involved.

Creating a landscaped artificial hill, using earth berms on top of the definitive or final sarcophage, if or when it can be financed and finished, looks marvellous in nuclear brochures and publicity cartoons but is science-fiction – due to extreme costs. In the Brennilis case, building a sarcophage over this toy-sized reactor was rejected as far too expensive, and the theoretical option of sarcophage-plus-landscaping was made even less possible, due to geological and water table constraints.

Concerning the 10-only civil power reactors partly-decommissioned to date in the USA, current estimates of full and definitive decomm costs are usually given as a cost-per-kilowatt of previous power output. These estimates are generally in the range $250-$500 per kilowatt, implying total costs at an extremely and unrealistically low total of around $0.4 billion for each industry standard 900 MW reactor. In the Russian case, as we know, “decommissioning” features pure and simple dumping of highly radioactive trash and debris in the ocean. Presumably Russians like eating radioactive fish.

ECONOMIC DISASTER
The keyword “disaster” suffers from serial overuse, for example the loss of Michael Jackson is a “disaster” for world culture, but nuclear disaster has a real and known meaning. In the case of Chernobyl and Fukushina we can unfortunately be sure that total costs have already run into the region of 400 billion dollars for Chernobyl, and at mimimum will run at more than 250 billion dollars for Fukushima over the next 30 years. Nuclear apologists make a point of never adding these costs.

At a meeting in Boston at the Maine statehouse, October 9, a panel of nuclear experts argued that the entire 104-reactor fleet of the USA should be shut down and decommissioned “as soon as possible”. The panel was headed by former US Nuclear Regulatory Commission chairman Gregory Jaczko, and included Peter Bradford, an NRC commissioner during the Three Mile Island accident; nuclear engineer Arnie Gundersen; and former Japanese Prime Minister Naoto Kan. While the NRC argues the chance of accidents causing reactor meltdown are “one in a million”, the problem is they can happen tomorrow – not in a million years of combined reactor fleet operating time – but the economic and financial impossibility of shutting down civil reactor fleets is the real barrier.

Because of costs, the de facto “solution” is firstly to extend reactor operating lifetimes, then partly decommission and dismantle reactors when they are taken out of service, delaying the decontamination of nuclear sites, and pushing all costs into the future. Unfortunately and until the reactors are made safe, they by definition pose almost open-ended risks. These extend from “simple” accidents and technical malfunction, to operator errors, and to the risk of them becoming giant Dirty Bomb targets in civil war, international war, or terror attacks. Even the most extreme non-nuclear industrial risks, notably at “Seveso or Bhopal type” chemical facilities, are pale by comparison………. http://www.marketoracle.co.uk/Article42864.html

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