Nuclear power is neither economic nor safe

The Truth About Nuclear Power – Part 30, Sowell’s Law Blog  August 3, 2014

Subtitle: Conclusion on Nuclear Power Not Economic Nor Safe

This is the 30th and final chapter in the Truth About Nuclear Power series, (see links at end of article) at least for now.  The TANP series was motivated by many conversations and digital exchanges via emails and online blogs over several years, in which most nuclear advocates advanced various statements about the advantages of nuclear power.  Knowing that those statements were false, I answered many of the false statements.

For those who have read some of or the entire TANP series, this concluding article will serve as a review and provide (hopefully) further insight into the actual world of nuclear power.  The article is in three parts: 1) the rosy claims of nuclear advocates, 2) questions raised by those rosy claims, and responses to the questions raised, and 3) an answer for why nations continue to build nuclear plants despite the serious and numerous disadvantages.

Part I of this article discusses nuclear advocates’ six primary claims, those being that nuclear power is 1) cheap,  only 2 or 3 cents per kWh,  2) reliable, and 3) extremely safe; they insist that 4) the plants run for 60 years before needing replacement, and 5) cost only $2.5 to $4 billion per 1,000 MW plant.  They also insist 6) the plants are built in only 4 years from groundbreaking to startup.   None of that squares with what I know about nuclear plants.

Part II of this article addresses a series of questions about nuclear power, the answers to which led to many of the previous articles on TANP.  The general form of the questions is, If what nuclear advocates say is really true, then Why (insert the question) is this also true?  These questions are shown below:

1 Why has nuclear power achieved only 11 percent of world power production, after more than 5 decades of competition?

2  Why do small islands have zero nuclear power plants, but burn expensive oil or diesel resulting in power prices of 25 to 35 cents per kWh?

3 Why do nuclear utilities never, ever, ask for a rate decrease when they build a nuclear plant?

4  Why did France install nuclear plants to provide 85 percent of the country’s power, and no other country in the world followed their lead?

5  Why does France have higher electricity prices than does the US, even with France heavily subsidizing their electricity industry?

6  Why does nuclear power in the US require heavy subsidies from government – and almost total indemnity from costs of a massive radiation disaster?

7  Why are nuclear plants shutting down in the US, with owners saying they are losing money?

8  Why are there so many near-misses on meltdowns in US plants, every 3 weeks?

9  Why were there three serious meltdowns worldwide in just a bit more than 30 years? (Fukushima, Chernobyl, Three Mile Island)

10  Why are new reactor technologies being researched and developed?

Part III of this article poses, then answers, the additional question of Why do countries around the world continue to build nuclear power plants, in spite of all the obvious, documented, irrefutable disadvantages of nuclear power?

I    Rosy Claims of Nuclear Advocates………

II A Series of Questions……….

………….Conclusion

Finally, it has been shown throughout the TANP series that nuclear power is not economic – many citations are documented.  Nuclear power is not safe either – again many citations are documented.  Despite this, many countries are building nuclear plants and plan to build even more.   Their reasons to build nuclear may satisfy them, but it is very interesting to note why nuclear cannot compete in the US: the price of natural gas is too low.   Many other countries, France included, also have vast resources of natural gas locked away in shale deposits that can be developed (as is the US) using directional drilling and hydraulic fracturing.  Producing such gas reserves domestically would reduce the price of natural gas, perhaps far below the oil-based pricing currently prevailing.

As Germany reacted to the Fukushima disaster, declaring nuclear power a menace that will be shut down as soon as possible, other countries will very likely take the same decision.  While not wishing any ill effects on anyone anywhere, only one more major disaster such as Fukushima meltdowns and radiation release, would tip the scales in balance of no more nuclear power.  http://sowellslawblog.blogspot.com.au/2014/08/the-truth-about-nuclear-power-part-30.html

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