Thursday, 4 April 2013

Nuclear Anyone?

I'm sure this will get the Greens into something of a tizzy. I confess I did a double take when I first read it, but I wasn't mistaken. It seems that Dr "CO2 is causing runaway warming" James Hansen, has collaborated with other scientists and now thinks that nuclear power is not as dangerous as the Greens think, and may just save us from a total power blackout when all the oil and coal power stations are shut down. I'm sure it won't be long before we start to see the raving placard waving Hippy Greens handing out stickers and chaining themselves to gates, fences and railway lines to 'prevent' the creation of new nuclear power stations and save their beloved windmills. The paper is entitled -

Nuclear Power Prevents More Deaths Than It Causes
Climate Change: Study estimates that nuclear energy leads to substantially fewer pollution-related deaths and greenhouse gas emissions compared with fossil-fuel sources
It makes very interesting reading, but I am sure Greenpeace will be quick to send out its "Nuclear Experts" to make sure we all hear that nuclear reactors are just bombs waiting to detonate, sources of "masses" of radioactive waste and likely to result in "billions" of deaths. After all, most of their "experts" seem to be the children or the product of CND supporters and teachers. I confess I am getting very tired of seeing the same pictures of poorly stored low level waste - mainly tools and overalls contaminated with Alpha and Beta radiation - from a former Eastern Bloc storage site. The breathless commentator invariably tries to create the impression that this is the 'normal' method of storage for 'High Level' waste everywhere.

There certainly is High Level waste from these reactors, but not as much as some would have you believe. Yes, there are risks associated with poorly designed and built reactors such as those at Fukushima, but the truth is that there have, as yet been NO deaths from that catastrophe, and there may never be. Those who dealt with it did suffer short term illness and are being monitored for any signs of anything else, but none died. Other reactors and waste storage sites are not situated on the seashore where they can get hit by a tsunami or a massive earthquake. In fact the biggest problem is a possible 9/11 style attack on one.

Strange as it may seem, Hansen is right. Nuclear power doesn't generate a major pollution risk. Almost 95% of the fuel rods can be recovered and reprocessed to create new ones. The old Magnox type reactors are now almost all phased out, so the Plutonium 'breeding' is minimal. Only Russia, China and North Korea are still operating this type. Newer reactors also have greater efficiency and use less 'fuel' - some of the reactors now fitted to ships, for example, have a fuel life of 25 years.

It will be interesting to see how this is received among the politicians, but I suspect the Green foot soldiery will, as soon as they recover from the shock, begin howling for the paper to be withdrawn, and for its authors to be crucified as 'traitors' to the cause.

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