And in public, too.The hostility to nuclear power is a direct result of the anti-rational, anti-capitalist, Pol Pot like hard left bias of the original "ecology" movement, now rechristened as the Greens. They ignored the horrific environmental disasters being committed by the Communist regimes of the Soviet and Chinese bloc and instead concentrated their anger on the West and in particular at the one thing that kept the "workers' paradise" of the Soviet Union at bay; the US/British nuclear deterrent, hence the entirely irrational hatred of (western) nuclear power.
I don't usually bother responding to such monotheistic blasts of vitriol
, but there are a few points raised by Miko that need clearing up.
Firstly, I was once, for a short while when (Lord) Jonathon Porritt
was our spokesman, on the Executive Committee of the UK Ecology Party. I argued, successfully, at two successive annual conferences that the name should not be changed because too many people, such as Miko, perceive green to be the colour of naivety. (I had left the country when the name change occurred.)
But this is not the same as blinkered, which could be a term to apply to Miko's rant.
We 'greens' were far from the "hard left
" Miko thinks we were. The roots of the UK ecology/environmentalist movement being in the libertarianism of the Diggers
, both the mid-17th century pastoralist squatters
in England and the more recent 'hippies
' and 'self-help' movements of the middle to late sixties, and Quakerism
.... the same people today who shriek against nuclear power are the same people who go all misty eyed over the British coal industry and the miners that worked it.
"Misty eyed"? You're the one mentioning coal, Miko. But you can't isolate the coal mining industry and equate it with the nuclear power industry. Sure, mining is dangerous. But even Arthur Scargill
, the then President of the Yorkshire division of the National Union of Mineworkers (NUM), recognised the worse dangers of the nuclear industry. Few know that he was an objector at the Windscale Inquiry. He said that he would be happy to see the closure of all
coal mines if that were the way to protect future generations from the nuclear industry. Later, I had to step in to prevent him getting beaten up by the Windscale trade unionists.Death Tolls Have you had a look at the death toll in an average week in Chinese, Russian and American coal mines? I think it averages about seventy a week. What about the death toll from oil exploration and the pollution caused by the petrol engine throughout the world, and we won't even go down the road of wars and terrorism caused by petroleum exploitation. Now we mentioned before the two worst nuclear power disasters in human history; Three Mile Island and Chernobyl, total casualty toll less than a hundred dead in half a century.
Eh? Where did you get those figures from, Miko? This nuclear industry briefing paper
report, based on Belarus national cancer statistics, predicts approximately 270,000 cancers and 93,000 fatal cancer cases caused by Chernobyl. The report also concludes that on the basis of demographic data, during the last 15 years, 60,000 people have additionally died in Russia because of the Chernobyl accident, and estimates of the total death toll for the Ukraine and Belarus could reach another 140,000.
quotes the following figures, given by the Ukraine's Health Ministry: About 15,000 people were killed and 50,000 left handicapped in the emergency clean-up after the Chernobyl nuclear accident, according to a group representing those who worked in the relief operations.
(And five million affected by radiation.) You quite deliberately ate radioactive fish, what harm did it do you?
Long-term? I don't know, but apart from the cat we're all still alive, even though there was a significant rise in the levels of Caesium 137 in my body was recorded and acknowledged by British Nuclear Fuels (BNFL), the operators of Sellafield. How does it compare with the endemic pleurisy and emphesema of northern British cities of your parents' generation and the soot clogged atmosphere which they endured as a result of coal exploitation.
It doesn't compare. Before 'smokeless' fuel was developed, we all suffered from smog and lung diseases ~ which weren't just caused by Capstan Full Strength
or Wills Whiffs
. And coal mining has always been a dangerous job; there can be no disputing that.
But the industry itself was never a danger for citizens of other countries, as occurred with the wind carried fallout from Chernobyl. Not including the total reactor meltdown at Three Mile Island, there is a horrific catalogue of leaks from nuclear power stations worldwide.
Why don't you click on the links I give you Miko? Here
, for example. You'll find there have been several thousand leaks of nuclear material worldwide; not only in electricity generating power plants, but in reprocessing plants
, of which there are but five: Sellafield in the UK, Cap La Hague in France, Rokkasho in Japan, Mayak in Russia and Kalpakkam in India, and in submarines. There are also 'lost' bombs.I'm not saying nuclear power is perfect, but if it had just been invented this morning and we had full knowledge of the comparative health and safety risks we would leap on it as the perfect solution to the problems of sustainable energy sources.
That is open to dispute. The nuclear power industry was established in order to process plutonium for nuclear warheads; the electricity generated was but a beneficial byproduct. Now there are fears
that the USA is thinking of re-embarking on a reprocessing programme.Plutonium is produced as a by-product in U.S. nuclear power reactors. The used (or "spent") fuel stored at these reactors contains hundreds of tons of plutonium, but it cannot currently be stolen by terrorists because it is bound up in large, heavy, and highly radioactive assemblies of fuel rods that could deliver a lethal dose of radiation to someone standing a few feet away in less than an hour. Yet the Department of Energy (DOE) is planning a radical shift in how the United States handles this spent fuel-a plan that would actually make plutonium easier to steal.Instead of disposing of highly radioactive spent fuel deep underground, where it would remain isolated from the environment for tens of thousands of years, DOE officials want to 'reprocess' it, using a series of chemical processes to extract plutonium that could then be used to make new reactor fuel. Because plutonium is not highly radioactive it can be handled without serious harm, making it an attractive target for terrorists.A U.S. reprocessing program would add to the worldwide stockpile of separated and vulnerable plutonium that sits in storage today, which totaled roughly 240 metric tons as of the end of 2003-enough for some 40,000 nuclear weapons. Reprocessing the U.S. spent fuel generated to date would increase this by more than 500 metric tons.
Terrorists, Iran, North Korea - the current bogeymen, and all inextricably entwined with the nuclear power industry. Fortunately (?) on cost grounds alone, reprocessing is not really an option.Reprocessing and the use of plutonium as reactor fuel is also far more expensive than using uranium fuel and disposing of the spent fuel directly - even if the fuel is only reprocessed once. In the United States, some 55,000 tons of nuclear waste have already been produced, and existing reactors add some 2,000 tons of spent fuel annually.
Based on the experience of other countries, a commercial scale reprocessing facility with an annual throughput of about 1,000 tons of spent fuel would cost anywhere from $5 billion to $20 billion to build. A facility with twice that capacity would be needed to process the new spent fuel produced; taking into account economies of scale, it would cost from $7.5 to $30 billion, excluding operating costs. A second facility would be needed to also reprocess the existing spent fuel over a period of some 30 years.
So the only option available for the industry is to find a way to store the spent fuels in an environmentally secure (i.e. non-seismic) facility which will also prove inaccessible to malevolent forces (terrorists et al) for as much as 100,000 years, the estimated time for spent fuel to decay to so-called 'safe' levels.
No country, let me emphasise that, NO
country has yet worked out how to store the waste
generated by the industry, some of which has a half-life (the time taken to reach a 'safe for humans' level of radioactivity) of over 100,000 years. We're not talking about planting grass on a few slag heaps, or turning an open cast mine into a vast recreational reservoir.
We're talking about creating no-go zones for eternity and not just for two hundred or so, the life span of a coal mine.Even the energy requirements of so-called sustainable development are pretty huge with a population of six billion on the planet and unless you suggest mass culling of Indians and Chinese (eh? And Indonesians?) you need to look at the best risk balanced energy source and once more we see nuclear power.
I mention energy sources that are infinite and won't cost us the Earth. There's tidal, hydro, solar, wind, and, especially here in Indonesia, geo-thermal. There are also ways to be energy efficient and education is the key.
But there's one other question which few ask: Do we need all this energy and if 'yes', why?