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Serious about emissions? It’s time to embrace nuclear

After clear warnings from scientists more than 20 years ago, the issues of human-caused climate change and fossil-fuel-dominated energy should be on the way into the environmental history books. Sadly…

Environmentalism attacked nuclear power, which may have damaged long-term sustainability goals. Olivier Hoslet

After clear warnings from scientists more than 20 years ago, the issues of human-caused climate change and fossil-fuel-dominated energy should be on the way into the environmental history books. Sadly, they’re not, which is why we need a new global movement of nuclear support.

A bit like the CFC/ozone dilemma, we should by now be enjoying disputes about just how the success came about, and focusing attention on more challenging sources of emissions.

What happened instead? A denial machine that cut its teeth working for the tobacco industry moved on to climate change. Climate change denial took off as the vested interests did what they do best. In this they found a most unexpected ally: environmentalism and the emergent paradigm of sustainability.

With the roots of the movementbeing more strongly defined as anti-nuclear than anti-fossil fuels, environmentalism effectively pulled uranium from the table. Were it not for their opposition, uranium might have powered the boom of the developing world in the 90s and 00s while also gradually re-powering the developed world towards zero-carbon energy generation.

Instead environmentalism backed technologies that failed to resemble what they were intended to displace. Instead of commercially mature, high-volume, and highly reliable generators that ran on a dense fuel source, they supported commercially immature, small, and unreliable generators that worked on intermittent energy sources.

With this limited approach, success in battling the climate problem hinged more on a conjoined social/technological/economic revolution than what could have been a relatively straight-forward technology revolution. This engendered a combative stance that regarded the big business of big energy as an enemy, rather than a potentially efficient means to get something done.

In the last 25 years global emissions have sky-rocketed beyond expectations, as the path of least resistance for governments was to become ever more well-oiled and coal-fired. Governments and corporations slapped on the green face paint for a couple of decades while fossil fuels carried on providing more and more energy to a growing world.

The success of fossil fuels was greased by the Merchants of Doubt. But it was helped by mixed messages from some streams of environmentalism. While making loud and sustained calls for market-based solutions (such as carbon pricing), the movement supported market manipulations by refusing to countenance an expanded role for uranium, while simultaneously promoting hard targets for renewables.

Ideas for further research and development, which would improve nuclear fission over fossil combustion regarding cost, were (and remain) heretical. This did not reinforce a message of climate urgency.

Worse, the science of nuclear power, and particularly radiation, was subjected to the same techniques of cherry-picking distortions and deliberate misrepresentations as that of the science of climate change, with appalling and immoral abuses of information.

The impact has been devastating. There still exists a widely held belief that expanding electricity generation from nuclear fission poses a comparable or greater threat than climate change. This is a gross miscalculation of risk.

This erroneous framework has powered absurd politics. The 1994 closure of the United States’ advanced reactor program took down the Integral Fast Reactor when at its final demonstration stage. With a capability to recycle 99% of existing spent nuclear fuel and depleted uranium for zero-carbon generation we could now be powering on waste. But a strongly anti-nuclear administration trumped this possible future.

In 1998, Australia, the world’s largest exporter of uranium, singled out nuclear power for prohibition. Since that time, Australia has implemented a carbon price, a renewable energy target, and all the while kept up our fossil dependence.

The result? Greenhouse emissions from the electricity sector have risen 18%.

In the wake of irrational fears stemming from the Fukushima accident, Germany is shutting down its nuclear capacity. While renewables are growing, these simply cannot keep up with the two-edged sword of a continued growth in demand coupled with the reduction in supply from nuclear. Greenhouse-gas emissions for Germany in 2012 were 1.6% higher than 2011, and they will open 5.3 GW of new coal plants in 2013, while retiring 1 GW of old coal. Is this how environmentalism has come to define success?

As environmentalism fought a two-front war against both nuclear power and climate change, ingenuity in the fossil-fuel sector exploited and shifted towards ever more cheap, carbon-intensive fuel. This powered a period of poverty-reducing economic growth, leaving the developed and developing world alike justifiably loathe to consider a de-powered future. Unfortunately, while objecting stridently to these climate crimes, environmentalism failed to put forward a credible alternate energy pathway.

Now, in 2013, we find ourselves at a new crossroad. The failure is there for all to see in our soaring emissions and warming world. Another 2.5 billion people are in the pipeline: they deserve energy.

Rapid growth in renewable technologies cannot mask the fact that the requirement for energy keeps growing. Coal has barely budged in total global electricity share of around 40% (double that for Australia), while demand grew three and a half times between 1973 and 2010.

That’s why emissions have been soaring despite extraordinary rates of renewable growth. That is why it was sheer folly for environmentalism to preference coal by default. Only embracing nuclear along with renewables can extinguish fossil fuels.

Yet nuclear power remains in the energy no-man’s land of being cheaper than renewables at scale, but more expensive than unabated gas, with large establishment costs. Nuclear power is meeting with success in developing economies.

But the major breakthrough looks increasingly dependent on the success of ‘production line’ small modular reactors (SMR), and the resurgent interest in generation IV fast reactors like the integral fast reactor, or liquid fuelled thorium reactors (LFTR).

As mentioned at the start of this article, we need to see a new global movement of nuclear support. There are a few things that must happen to make this a reality.

First, we need balanced government-led climate strategies with scientific integrity to focus on actual, measurable, and rapid reductions in greenhouse-gas emissions, with a target of zero.

Second, we need rapid deployment of high-volume, zero-carbon technology for direct substitution with fossil fuels. That means picking some winners. Our winners of choice are small modular reactors progressing to the integral fast reactor: proven, zero-carbon, safe, constantly recharged with an inexhaustible supply of fuel through recycling and utilising what is currently known as “nuclear waste”.

We must get these reactors turned out by the dozen to answer every energy need being met by fossil fuels.

May the best technology win. But the approach needs to be firm and hands-on, as time is not on our side.

This requires a sustained early injection of money from a coalition of nations in order to create the manufacturing, distribution, education, security, and skills-base that is absolutely necessary for a 21st-century re-imagining of energy.

Finally, to achieve all this we need a popular movement to embrace nuclear power. The consequent pressure will hopefully force government and industry to respond.

If, 25 years from now, our children look back and see a continuance of the present epic failures in climate and energy policies, it is today’s limited views on sustainability that will stand condemned.

This article was co-authored by Ben Heard, Director of Think Climate Consulting. Ben blogs as DecarboniseSA and Tweets as @Ben_ThinkClimate.

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225 Comments sorted by

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  1. John Newlands

    tree changer

    Australia's emissions have been roughly the same for the last 20 years. Other countries must think we are A-grade bullshitters pretending to care about emissions while digging so much coal. Despite our 1-2% annual population growth we need to get emissions down at least 25% in absolute terms in the next decade. The combination of carbon tax and the renewable energy target is clearly not going to do it at a cost the public will accept. Soon Australia will also need to think hard about liquid fuel…

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    1. Alex Cannara

      logged in via Facebook

      In reply to Ralph Bennett

      Ralph, you apparently don't understand nuclear power. Make a fist. Imagine that fist was instead a chunk of Uranium. That amount is all that's needed to power NYC or 1/3 of Australia for an hour.

      In advanced reactors, almost all of that 'fist' would be consu7med. And, those reactors would also be producing valuable isotopes we all depend on for medicine, science & industry. The US cannot send spacecraft beyond the Asteroid Belt without Plutonium238, which is only made via Thorium-Uranium233…

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    2. ian cheong

      logged in via email @acm.org

      In reply to Alex Cannara

      Well might fission be natural inside the centre of the earth. But how much surface ionising radiation do we get emanating from the ground or volcanic eruptions?

      If I had to choose between <1% CO2 and ionising radiation, I know what I'd choose.

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    3. Alex Cannara

      logged in via Facebook

      In reply to ian cheong

      Ian, you might want more study. Earth's heat is not much from natural fission, but from natural decay of isotopes of Thorium, Uranium & Potassium. Only 20% is left over from earth's formation (~5,000 years ago, if a zealot)

      The natural fission reactors in the mountains of Gabon ran ~2 billion years ago, when there was enough undecayed U235 to allow fission via rainwater moderation -- mush as present reactors operate.

      And, you don't get to "choose" about ionizing radiation -- it's all around you, in you and all your possessions, especially granite countertops, nuts and rock-walled basements.
      ;]
      http://imgs.xkcd.com/blag/radiation.png

      For bio info...
      http://tinyurl.com/c8vrc8y

      Don't waste $ on any pills Dr. Busby is hawking in Asia!

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    4. Jack Lindsay

      Consultant

      In reply to Ralph Bennett

      Ralph, modern uranium mining using leaching is hardly “dirty, in the worst sense.” And the fact remains that even if the mining were as “dirty” (whatever you mean by that) as coal, there would still be no comparison because so little is needed to produce vast amounts of energy. As for the timeframe of its radiotoxicity, if we use IFRs that problem is solved. And insurers will always be happy to bow out if governments provide, just as they do for hydroelectric dams. That proves nothing.

      As for…

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  2. Gerard Dean

    Managing Director

    Boys, when the oil well runs dry the JetA1 fuel will stop flowing.

    When that happens the climate change aficionados will be shocked to learn they can no longer fly to Europe or Nepal or Peru for spiritual back packing and skiing.

    All the nuclear industry has to offer is an alternative jet fuel created from their process and voila, all impediments will be waved aside.

    If you really want to annoy a climate changer, get between them and the Jetstar check in counter.

    Gerard Dean

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  3. Alex Cannara

    logged in via Facebook

    Very good article. The history has been sad -- environmental groups, like my own Sierra Club, being blindly anti-nuclear (since '86 for Sierra), while being ignorant that they in fact increase human disease and death that way. The combustion industry loved supporting anti-nukes because they knew nuclear was and is their only viable competition -- note the Oil Heat Institute funding ads against our Shoreham Long Island plant in the '80s at 1:53:20 here...
    www.thoriumremix.com/2011
    The Japanese…

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    1. Alex Cannara

      logged in via Facebook

      In reply to David Maddern

      Salt storage only works if the salt is >700C. Otherwise the solar plant is very inefficient. Here in Calif, we even have gas lines run to these odd, subsidized mistakes, so they can burn gas to keep the slat hot and generate electricity when demand is low, and do that over lossy, long transmission lines.

      Our descendents, looking back, have their hand over their faces.
      ;]

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    2. Greg North

      Retired Engineer

      In reply to David Maddern

      It is something of an exaggeration to claim that Concentrated Solar Storage technology is well matured for though there have been a number of pilot plants constructed in years past, some of the more recent constructions do not declare storage capacity possibly because there is none and the maximum of any listed seems to be 10 hours with most at 7.5 or 8 hrs. and with completions around 2010 to 2011 it could still be early days re overall operation and costs.
      You can find a globall listing on Wiki - http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_solar_thermal_power_stations

      If you have more of that maturity and 17h. storage claim, happy for you to post it instead of rubbish.
      All renewables have their limitations and low capacity factors and will only ever become a viable alternative when there is no other option.

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    3. David Maddern

      logged in via Facebook

      In reply to Alex Cannara

      If your system is disappointing the possible answer is a low temperature turbine, and even having alternative steam flows depending on temperature of steam

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    4. Luke Weston

      Physicist / electronic engineer

      In reply to David Maddern

      Low temperature turbine? Not those bloody laws of thermodynamics foiling us again!

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    5. David Maddern

      logged in via Facebook

      In reply to Luke Weston

      I understand the driving fins are different shapes.
      Hat is what makes them low temperature

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    6. Jonathan Maddox
      Jonathan Maddox is a Friend of The Conversation.

      Software Engineer

      In reply to Luke Weston

      It's essentially a category error to complain about low capacity factors for renewable technologies (other than dams across rivers that flow year-round), just as it's silly to complain that an urban OCGT peaking facility has a capacity factor below 5%. It's fit for purpose and that's what matters. All power generation technologies have capacity factors below 100%.

      Renewables other than hydro, wind and (recently) PV remain immature technologies when it comes to power generation, and can be expected…

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    7. Jonathan Maddox
      Jonathan Maddox is a Friend of The Conversation.

      Software Engineer

      In reply to Greg North

      You're wrong, Greg, but only because you're right. Concentrated solar thermal with storage is not at all well-matured, and therefore complaining that storage of existing plants seems to be inadequate is inappropriate. These plants have been designed to meet a market demand where peak power is required in the afternoons and early evenings of hot humid days and cold clear days alike (typical of both Spain and California).

      Complaining that these plants don't provide power 24 hours a day is premature. They're new, they're small, and they have competition. What they do is make the best financial return they can, while displacing other expensive peak generation technologies like OCGT. They are proving technologies that can potentially meet different demands as they are made.

      The technology itself is perfectly extensible -- mass deployment, and plant specifications that require 17 or 24 hours storage, are all that is required to reduce costs and provide that amount of storage.

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    8. Luke Weston

      Physicist / electronic engineer

      In reply to Jonathan Maddox

      "150MW is a good size for a pilot, but it's way too early to describe as commercial, or to judge the likely long-term costs of the technology on the basis of a single deployment at this scale."

      Sure, I absolutely agree with you, but this is exactly what the 100%-"renewables" evangelists do!

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    9. Luke Weston

      Physicist / electronic engineer

      In reply to Jonathan Maddox

      "Concentrated solar thermal with storage is not at all well-matured"

      No disagreement here. But you're preaching to the choir, tell this to the solar-thermal evangelists and the 100%-"renewables"-by-2020 sort of crowd.

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  4. ian cheong

    logged in via email @acm.org

    why cant they just market mini nukes for local communities. the size they put in nuclear subs. i dont want one in my back yard. but people who do can if they want.

    the earth is in radiative thermal equilibrium with the sun and on average its temperature will not change excepting with changing solar output. random surface weather patterns cannot change the fact that the long term temperature is independent of the composition of the atmosphere and there is no evidence to the contrary, despite what some people would promote.

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    1. Alex Cannara

      logged in via Facebook

      In reply to ian cheong

      Well, 1 out of 2 ain;'t bad, Ian. The earth & sea (so easily forgotten, eh?) are definitely affected by the "composition of the atmosphere", if you uderstand any physics.

      But, indeed, our first US reactor was a 60MW submarine reactor at Shippingport, PA, in 1957. And, it was used from 1977-82 toi demonstrate fuel breeding from Thorium -- `1.2% more fuel in 1982 than was put in in 1977. Magic.
      ;]
      The Oak Ridge salt reactors run in the 1960s ranged down to 6MW thermal -- 2MW electrical. The Chinese are now doing that over by 2020. Could run a couple thousand homes with that.

      By the way, Ian, lay off the bananas & nuts, if you're afraid of living near a nuke... http://imgs.xkcd.com/blag/radiation.png

      Flying is very bad too. And don't sleep next to anyone -- we each emit over 4000 energetic electrons and gamma rays each second, just from the natural Potassium our kidneys regulate throughout our bodies.

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    2. Greg North

      Retired Engineer

      In reply to ian cheong

      Alex knows more of the history than I do Ian but remember the Beta tapes and were the chunky sound ones also called Beta?
      And now we just have all manner of stick gizmos.
      So with http://www.usatoday.com/story/news/nation/2012/11/26/nuclear-small-modular-reactors/1727001/ maybe there will come a time when you go out for some backyard nuking instead of BBQing.

      Meanwhile, plenty of bananas and nuts consumed around here and I was wondering about my efferescent glowing of late.

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    3. Alex Cannara

      logged in via Facebook

      In reply to Greg North

      Watch that banana-Brazil-nut cake, Greg!

      MP3 is a good equivalent to VHS vs superior Beta too. Come to think of it, even the CD standard was roundly criticized for its inadequacies in sound sampling.

      But companies are in the business of making $ from marketable, not superior, products
      ;]
      Not to diss a former president, but about 12 minutes in here, see Nixon admitting no science knowledge, but decidng our nuclear future... http://tinyurl.com/73p7ler (VHS or Beta?)

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    4. ian cheong

      logged in via email @acm.org

      In reply to Alex Cannara

      when talking about radiative thermal equilibrium of bodies in a vacuum, "earth" actually means the planet - ie everything within the top of atmosphere. Sadly not too many people understand a lot of physics. but physicsts do and they are a different bunch from climate scientists on the whole.

      the temperature of the body in space in radiative thermal equilibrium should be measured from space.

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    5. Alex Cannara

      logged in via Facebook

      In reply to ian cheong

      And you, Ian, don't seem to understand the power of molecular resonances with electromagnetic waves, whether they originate from the cosmos, clouds, or planetary surfaces.

      I am indeed a degreed Plasma Physics kid, as well as a degreed statistician, as well as an experienced English car \fixer-upper. All 3 are equally complex realms.

      Want to try your luck?
      ;]

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    6. ian cheong

      logged in via email @acm.org

      In reply to Alex Cannara

      try hanging out in the climate blogosphere and come back with experimental evidence of CO2 thermalization of IR then.

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    7. Ken Fabian

      Mr

      In reply to ian cheong

      Ian, I think denial of climate change like yours actually contributes to the political impediments to nuclear - more so even than anti-nuclear sentiment. No Conservative government will support the aggressive replacement of fossil fuels with nuclear as long as climate science denial is endorsed and actively promoted by a significant portion of their members and tolerated by the rest.

      When Australia's political Right chose to frame climate as a green-left exaggeration and\or conspiracy to subvert…

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    8. Alex Cannara

      logged in via Facebook

      In reply to ian cheong

      Good you show you're no scientist or engineer so openly, Ian!
      ;]

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  5. Alex Cannara

    logged in via Facebook

    One more thing: please, please stop with the massive cooling towers. They aren't an essential part of any power station, especially nuclear and especially advanced, high temperature nuclear.

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    1. John Newton

      Author Journalist

      In reply to Alex Cannara

      Apart from all the other anti-nuclear arguments, there is on e big problem with it: that is, nuclear power stations are big. Huge,. Concentrated power. Easy targets.

      What we really should be aiming for is localised power - City of sydney is making a stsrt with tri-generation, but imagine if every suburb had its feed in solar or wind or wave - with access to back up.

      Nuclear? Don't go that way.

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    2. Alex Cannara

      logged in via Facebook

      In reply to John Newton

      I love this argument!

      Nukes can be built for submarines (we lent you Aussies one to scare the Chinese) or to run 1/3 your country.

      Why did the 9/11 terrorists not drive planes into our nukes?

      Nuclear power is the most energy dense source available, even on any bosy in the solar system. And, whatever acreage is set aside for one is left au-naturel, unlike wind/solar 'farms'.

      So, indeed, nuclear power is the most environmentally responsible power source, other than local solar on existing structures.

      This reality is permeating the world now -- late, but permeating.

      All complaining and chaffing about nukes doe is serve the combustion industry, as it has for decades.

      Maybe time to read Hansen again?...
      www.smartplanet.com/blog/bulletin/grandfather-of-global-warming-fight-nuclear-power-saves-millions-of-lives/16828?tag=nl.e660&s_cid=e660&ttag=e660

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    3. Geoff Russell

      Computer Programmer, Author

      In reply to John Newton

      John, do you accept that climate change is a matter of real urgency? We can replace coal power stations with nukes very quickly and without any social re-engineering. The speed is critical. France grew its nuclear during the 80s at about 5 times the per-capita energy generation that Germany has with wind and solar during the past 12 years. Not 5%, but 5 times. Germany is aiming for 80% clean electricity by 2050 and they've already wasted 10. France did all that in just 20. and has had clean electricity for 20 years. I, for one, feel incredibly guilty that we buggered it up. We could have all had clean electricity 20 years ago. By being anti-nuclear, we screwed up, big time.

      There's still plenty that will need doing while energy is being dealt with, but energy is "easy". ie.., we have all the knowledge and skills.

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    4. Alex Cannara

      logged in via Facebook

      In reply to Geoff Russell

      Good sentiments, Geoff.

      At a recent discussion on world nuclear plans, a Chinese expert related their ramp-up plans for nuclear power. But, even at their fast pace, they will actually about double their coal burning by 2035.

      Unfortunately, the world's carbon debt being now >500 gigatons means that even if no more power combustion occurred from today, our per capita limit would amount to ~4 gallons of gasoline/diesel per year, for all purposes.

      Being late is expensive.

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    5. Greg North

      Retired Engineer

      In reply to John Newton

      I hope Clover is on to something for Sydney CBD John but based on Gas, gas is expensive.
      As for every suburb having its renewable feeds, you do mention that dirty word " back up "
      Paul reckons they have Julia's back so maybe he can have Sydneys too!

      And this the thing about back ups, some being expensive immediately to have on tap such as gas and then coal fired stations are not known as base load stations for no good reason and it is preferable that they do get run on a reasonably constant loading for that kind of reduces the need for safety valves letting off enormous steam volumes, valves and turbine blading metal fatique and even coal transfer points getting bogged down!
      They ain't a car with an accelerator pedal.
      Nuclear plants are said to be more responsive.

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    6. Jonathan Maddox
      Jonathan Maddox is a Friend of The Conversation.

      Software Engineer

      In reply to Geoff Russell

      Germany has *not* wasted 10 years achieving little at great expense.

      What Germany has done is to drive the learning curve down by mass deployment. Renewables are now far, far cheaper than they were, to the point that they are able to compete on price with fossil fuels -- largely as a result of Germany's investment (of course Germany has not been alone, nor were they even the first, but they have been the biggest single investor to date).

      Of course it has taken time and money, and it has indeed…

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    7. Ben Heard

      Director, ThinkClimate Consulting

      In reply to Jonathan Maddox

      "No question that mass deployment of nuclear power à la France would have been a cheaper option -- but it was never the only one."

      No. Just the right one.

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    8. Luke Weston

      Physicist / electronic engineer

      In reply to Jonathan Maddox

      "No question that mass deployment of nuclear power à la France would have been a cheaper option -- but it was never the only one."

      Sure, but given multiple options that are theoretically possible to do the same job, (and let's say for the sake of argument we ignore all other factors or assume them to be equal) why would you *not* choose the cheaper option?

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    9. Alex Cannara

      logged in via Facebook

      In reply to Jonathan Maddox

      And voters often vote for the wrong people -- take our Congress. Please take our Congress!
      ;]

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    10. Jonathan Maddox
      Jonathan Maddox is a Friend of The Conversation.

      Software Engineer

      In reply to Ben Heard

      Ah, Ben. No, I was not making *that* analogy.

      The line is a quote from a beautiful gentle story about British democracy and the security establishment : http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0094576/

      Nuclear power establishments go hand in hand with security establishments -- and their uglier sides.

      http://www.monbiot.com/2012/10/09/the-heart-of-the-matter/
      http://www.asianews.it/news-en/Police-violence-against-antinuclear-protesters:-two-dead-and-a-church-profaned-25781.html

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    11. John Newton

      Author Journalist

      In reply to Alex Cannara

      OK. Here;s some information from Giles Parkinson's Renew Economy site:

      The United States has not (yet) built a new nuclear reactor since1996 — new U.S. nuclear capacity has essentially flatlined. The U.S. still has far more nuclear power generation than any other country, though China, Russia, India, and Korea are actively constructing new reactors. A few U.S. building permits have trickled in since 2007, when an energy bill with incentives for new nuclear plants passed Congress. The Wall Street…

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    12. Alex Cannara

      logged in via Facebook

      In reply to John Newton

      So, John, if I get your logic -- if we foolishly stopped doing something good & safe, we should never correct that foolishness and start again.

      Right, John?

      We built an Internet that was intentionally insecure. We should never try to correct that mistake?

      The Chinese, Koreans, Russians, Indians and others will be making a great deal of clean power and $, while we take your advice. Gonna pay us to remain stupid, John?

      As to your article, renewables never pay for de-commissioning or wastes…

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    13. Gary Murphy

      Independent Thinker

      In reply to Alex Cannara

      "...renewables never pay for de-commissioning or wastes -- all nukes do."

      No - the US Govt is responsible for the long-term storage of nuclear power station waste. They were collecting a small amount from the generators to fund Yucca mountain - which was good for 150 years (not 15,000) and was only big enough for existing waste.

      "There's good reason why the Saudis are building nukes rather than windmills."

      Are the Saudis buiding nukes? I do know they are investing $100 Billion in Solar thermal. Don't think they have much wind though...

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    14. Alex Cannara

      logged in via Facebook

      In reply to Gary Murphy

      No to your "no", Gary. Yucca Mtn. was and is irrelevant. You just have to stop thinking of spent LWR fuel as "waste". As mentioned elsewhere, only a few % of it might be useless and need storing, as the French & others do.

      The nuclear waste fund paid by operators is $billions. But, we already have a federal storage facility, WIPP, in New Mexico, which its neighbors are lobbying for us to use, just as Swedes competed to have their waste facility in their particular towns.

      Problem with…

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  6. David Maddern

    logged in via Facebook

    The main point I have to make is that people are now doing things with nuclear far smarter than stations that rely on mined fuel, can get melted down by massive tidal waves and be terrorist targets.
    Thermogenic decay of unstable isotopes in graniite have produced hot rocks, some that are in insulated positions ( limestone cover of some depth ) and all that is required is to drill down two shafts with oil drilling technology, and bring the heat to the surface to heat exchange with water, to make…

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    1. Alex Cannara

      logged in via Facebook

      In reply to David Maddern

      David, the key is efficiency and geothermal of any sort is fine but very limited and remote, thus lossy.

      This remark, however, is mistaken...

      " Just having to wear a higher background radiation is not acceptable. We've seen Chernobyl and Fukashima where they have had to wear it. No thanks. Leave the stuff in the ground. "

      If you were aware of "background radiation" you'd realize that geothermal and all combustion plants are allowed to emit far more radiation than can any nuke. Being within…

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    2. David Maddern

      logged in via Facebook

      In reply to Alex Cannara

      You are speaking to the converted here an yes I know there is background radiation that however is not a rationale for increasing in the same way electricity prices have increased ( ie from a privatisation at Government behest, thanks indirectly to one late M. Thatcher ) That would have a very bad taste, even though I took heed when the CSIRO discovered 500mgm folic acid with 50mgm B12 repairs DNA in the body.
      May I suggest that people generally have seen official shit heaped on them and they will not tolerate an insidious polluting that increases cancer. They will not let Officials play with it. Full stop.
      As for geothermal emitting radiation, the one at Innaminka has the heat exchanger underground, probably to minimise radon release.

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    3. Henry Verberne

      Once in the fossil fuel industry but now free to speak up

      In reply to Alex Cannara

      Hi Alex
      I am not strongly anti nuclear but would prefer to avoid it unless renewables are demonstrably unable to replace fossil fuels for power generation; I don't believe that this has been demonstrated, especially since renewables are still a developing technology whose costs are coming down significantly. I am in Australia.

      I also note no one has mentioned several other large elephants in the room:

      1. The high level waste issue- as I understand it there is no agreed safe long term disposal…

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    4. Greg North

      Retired Engineer

      In reply to David Maddern

      So now its Margaret Thatcher rather than John Howard or Tony Abbott is it David.
      You do seem to be taking your thoughts all over the place quite randomly and perhaps you're just a rusted on to anything else other than nuclear power.

      Why do you not read up on all the pollutants other than CO2 that come out of coal fired power stations and if you extrapolate just how much may have been deposited over broad acres for decades and decades you might start wondering more about where a lot of cancers could come from.

      You might also be interested to know that geo thermal power in New Zealand has a questionable operational life seeing as they appear to be seeking to use more heat than may be available indefinitely.

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    5. David Maddern

      logged in via Facebook

      In reply to Greg North

      Why the F would I want to read up about coal pollutio?
      I would rather think up lower cost ways of concentrating solar.
      Btw it is well known to me at least that volcanic geothermal is unreliable as vents change alignment.
      I do put the rash of privatisation that swept the world to Thatcher, draconian anti-terror ( random arrest, unreportable detention ) down to Howard, and Abbott , well if he does what other people are saying, then it will be more than two steps backward, so I hope the Senate stands, but Australians like the Senate to modify political excesses

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    6. Alex Cannara

      logged in via Facebook

      In reply to Henry Verberne

      Henry, I thought I covered the 'waste' issue exlewhere here, but if not, it's not waste.

      The present, solid fuelled, 1945-patent designs only use ~3% of the Uranium put into them. An equal 3% is highly-radioactive fission products, some very valuable. The rest is 1% Plutonium, some heavier long-lived elements, and ~95% original U238 put in on day 1 of reactor startup.

      Except for the fission products, which decay in a few hundred years, the remainder is fuel for advanced reactors, MSR, for…

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    7. Alex Cannara

      logged in via Facebook

      In reply to Henry Verberne

      As Ben said, there's no 'waste' -- it's 95% fuel for advanced reactors. And allegations of U running out -- that was the worry JFK was addressing in 1962. It's long since been known that there's thousands of years of Uranium, even in seawater, and 4x that in Thorium. That's even true for any rocky body in this or any other solar system.

      Subsidies: nukes pay up front for their de-commissioning per kW installed. No other power systems do that. It doesn't matter if things like insurance needs…

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    8. Jonathan Maddox
      Jonathan Maddox is a Friend of The Conversation.

      Software Engineer

      In reply to Alex Cannara

      Using the other 97% of the fissile and fertile material in nuclear "waste" requires reprocessing spent fuel many times over to remove fission products and other undesirable material, while reconcentrating fissile and fertile material.

      Reprocessing is a very small industry today but must grow, thousands of times over, in your envisioned fission-powered world. This, not the power reactors themselves, is the major potential source of future pollution and proliferation risks.

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    9. Alex Cannara

      logged in via Facebook

      In reply to Jonathan Maddox

      Jonathan, you seem to want to show you don't grasp nuclear power or physics. Uranium is processed out of fuel by standard industrial fluorination -- that's what all Uranium systems use, once ore is pre-processed and ready for enrichment.

      "reprocessing spent fuel many times over to remove fission products" is a meaningless statement.

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  7. Ian Bolton

    Farmer

    If Nuclear is Safe we should use it. A safety analysis of nuclear power is no different from any other system. It compares the likelihood of an adverse event occurring in relation to the consequences if it does occur. Unfortunately Nuclear fails on both accounts. A melt down does not just effect the country it is in but can travel round the world in a very short time. huge areas of land and population can be affected in a very short time and the affects can last a very long time.There is no other…

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    1. Alex Cannara

      logged in via Facebook

      In reply to Ian Bolton

      Yes Ian, nuclear power is safe and regulated to be so. Does this odd opining of yours have any basis in fact?

      "huge areas of land and population can be affected in a very short time and the affects can last a very long time.There is no other industry in the world that has comparable consequences"

      Really? Talk to the 12,000 Americans dead each year from coal emissions. Talk to the 700,000 Chinese dead each year.

      Oops, you can't. Ok, ask the Chinese govt. how much combustion costs in terms…

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    1. Alex Cannara

      logged in via Facebook

      In reply to Mark O'Connor

      I've met and talked with Jaczko, Mark. If nuclear power wewre so diastriousb as you misinterpret from your links, where are the deathsm dismemberments...? They exist for wind, just in England...
      www.caithnesswindfarms.co.uk/accidents.pdf

      YThey exist for gas, especially in transmission, where we lose several folks around the US every year, and sometimes a neighborhood -- remember San Bruno a couple of years back?

      So where are all these nuclear problems leading, MArk?

      The answer is simple…

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    2. Greg Edeson

      PhD candidate at School of Geography and Environmental Studies, University of Tasmania

      In reply to Alex Cannara

      "If nuclear power wewre so diastriousb as you misinterpret from your links, where are the deathsm dismemberments"?

      Visit a cemetery in Poland or the Ukraine, look at the ages of the many many young and unborn who died after Chernobyl, or perhaps visit the centres that look after the people with major physiological and psychological problems who wer downwind of Chernobyl.

      Go and speak to a thyroid specialist anywhere downwind of Chernobyl. Not to mention Hiroshima (you can't disassociate nuclear…

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    3. Alex Cannara

      logged in via Facebook

      In reply to Greg Edeson

      Greg, tyhanks for exposing your dependence on illogic. How about you visit Bhopla? Minimata? Or maybe talk to survivors of the Tokyo & Dresden fire bombings? Or, just a Chevy pickup owener burnd]ed in a crash due to defecyive fuel tanks?

      I thought it was clear that not only was the design of Soviet reactors like Chernobyl's illegal outside the Soviet Union, the response from authorities to the disaster left the populace unprotected, in contrast to Fukushima.

      So are you arguing against using…

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    4. Mark O'Connor

      Author

      In reply to Alex Cannara

      That's an old and unconvincing argument Alex, and mixed with too much rhetoric. We have not yet had our first successful terrorist strike on a nuclear plant (either from without or within), or our first war in which nuclear power plants are hit by missiles, or our first total nuclear plant disaster (assuming that the rickety damaged third-floor swimming pool containing nuclear rods at Fukushima can be dismantled before the next major earthquake).
      Yet it would be foolish indeed to imagine that these…

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    5. Geoff Russell

      Computer Programmer, Author

      In reply to Greg Edeson

      Please Greg. I was anti-nuclear until the end of 2008 ... I'm a child of the 60s, you are reproducing all the stuff I used to believe, until I started to rigorously fact check anti-nuclear material.

      Consider cancer, go and look at globocan.iarc.fr, simply compiled from global cancer registries not the IAEA or other conspiratorial group :). Ukraine, Belarus and Russia have had about 14 million cancers since Chernobyl ... multiply the population by the age standardised rate ... it's near enough…

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    6. Geoff Russell

      Computer Programmer, Author

      In reply to Geoff Russell

      P.S. Who cares about subsidies? We are fighting climate change. Subsidise the hell out of anything which works ... but stop with stuff which doesn't. Why are the Germans spending $1 trillion on stuff which is far too slow and inefficient? That's a real issue.

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    7. Alex Cannara

      logged in via Facebook

      In reply to Geoff Russell

      Yes, if it doesn't work long term, don't subsidize it. We're seeing the beginning of that realization with wind.

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    8. Alex Cannara

      logged in via Facebook

      In reply to Mark O'Connor

      Mark says "an old and unconvincing argument Alex, and mixed with too much rhetoric. We have not yet had our first successful terrorist strike on a nuclear plant "

      First, are "old" arguments automatically wrong? Like Gallileo's?

      As for terrorists, if you were one and had to get 20kg of Plutonium to make a bomb, where would you go? A nuclear plant won't help you at all no matter how embedded you become. You could try to breach security at a Plutonium store, as in France or one of our US weapons…

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    9. Greg Edeson

      PhD candidate at School of Geography and Environmental Studies, University of Tasmania

      In reply to Geoff Russell

      I think 20 years ago there may have been a case for nuclear as a transition power, but now there’s no need. The cost, lead in time and life cycle issues mean that nuclear is not a viable solution for carbon mitigation (that, and all that GHG water vapour steam that nuclear plants pump out).
      I don’t have the time to parse the interwebs, or to reply immediately to any post I disagree with, but a brief search turned up the following info about the human dimensions you seem uninterested in.
      In the…

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    10. Greg Edeson

      PhD candidate at School of Geography and Environmental Studies, University of Tasmania

      In reply to Alex Cannara

      It’s a pity you have to resort to cheap bits of aggro to try to make your point. Reductio ad absurdum doesn’t strengthen your case, rather it just makes it look like you’re lost for constructive points…

      See my response above to Geoff Russell, who seems more interested in discussing than crushing.

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    11. Jonathan Maddox
      Jonathan Maddox is a Friend of The Conversation.

      Software Engineer

      In reply to Greg Edeson

      Anecdotes about affected people are affecting, but for each single anecdote of the victim of radioactive pollution from nuclear power stations there are many many thousands of counter-anecdotes of the victims of fossil fuel pollution.

      I make no bones that my preference is for renewables over nuclear power, but the simple fact is that nuclear power has to date wrecked *fewer* lives, proportionately (eg. per GWh of electric power delivered) than any other form of electric generation.

      I expect that, just as the costs of renewables fall as mass deployment is achieved, so shall the death rates (almost all of them from accidents typical of any manufacturing or construction industry) fall to levels comparable to, or below, those of nuclear power.

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    12. Jonathan Maddox
      Jonathan Maddox is a Friend of The Conversation.

      Software Engineer

      In reply to Alex Cannara

      Alex,

      All very well to point out the low concentration of plutonium in existing power reactor cores.

      Yet any technology which proposes re-use of spent nuclear fuel requires fuel reprocessing, as does any earnest application of thorium as a nuclear fuel. Fuel reprocessing is a necessary adjunct to any proposal for mass deployment of molten-salt reactors, for instance.

      Fuel reprocessing to date has proven uneconomical largely due to the still cheap supply of virgin uranium, but there are…

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    13. Luke Weston

      Physicist / electronic engineer

      In reply to Jonathan Maddox

      "Reprocessing necessarily means separating and concentrating (in small, discrete quantities!) fissile material."

      No, efficient fuel use does NOT necessarily require selective chemical extraction of plutonium.

      And even if you do have selective chemical extraction of plutonium, it's not practically weaponisable plutonium anyway due to its Pu-238, Pu-240 and Pu-241 content, unless the plutonium comes from a weapons production reactor with the uranium targets specifically unloaded after a short, controlled irradiation time.

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    14. Jonathan Maddox
      Jonathan Maddox is a Friend of The Conversation.

      Software Engineer

      In reply to Luke Weston

      Luke, you have quoted me, then replied to some other comment I didn't make.

      I didn't speak to "efficient fuel use" but to reprocessing.

      I didn't speak to "selective chemical extraction" at all.

      I didn't speak to plutonium at all, but to fissile material.

      An operable reactor core requires fissile material in controlled quantities -- the proportions vary depending on what kind of reactions are desired, of course. It can't function if there is a significant fraction of fission products…

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    15. Alex Cannara

      logged in via Facebook

      In reply to Geoff Russell

      Excellent points, Geoff.

      And I forget who was talking about the two Russians alleging many deaths from Chernobyl. They were repeatedly discredited. WHO even stated that they could not detect any difference in the relatively normal, high cancer rate in the population. The Russians mentioned even fell for the same mistakes in assessing radiation effects that some others have -- the UN just corrected that old, erroneous method for estimating radiation effects on populations -- finally, after over…

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    16. Alex Cannara

      logged in via Facebook

      In reply to Jonathan Maddox

      "Fuel reprocessing to date has proven uneconomical" -- tell that to the French, Jonathan.

      And molten salt systems require teeny pipes to the chemical gear used to manage the salt and add/extract any desired isotopes/chemicals. Remember, a reactor only fissions 1/2kg per city per hour. The Thorium input is the same, if used to breed the fissile kg each hour.

      Plus, such a reactor contains ~30 tons of salt, with only a ton or so of fissile fuel. So the thief also has to gather 30x as much salt…

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    17. Alex Cannara

      logged in via Facebook

      In reply to Jonathan Maddox

      Jonathan, you've got some things sort of right and others pretty wrong.

      Solid fuel is indeed 'poisoned by certain neutron lovers, like Xenon and Hafnium, which is why it comes out after ~5 years in a reactor. But the ability to separate out Uranium is quite straightforward, as mentioned elsewhere.

      Depending on what we want to do with what remains of the 'fuel' solids, we can have glassified waste, which no one can use for anything dastardly, or we can extract certain isotopes of value.

      If you worry about dirty bombs, secure your dumps where people throw smoke detectors containing Americium, etc. They make great radiation sources to mash up into some fertilizer & diesel bombs!

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    18. Alex Cannara

      logged in via Facebook

      In reply to Jonathan Maddox

      Got a ways to go with your renewables in the US, then, Jonathan -- the body count for US civilian and naval nukes is 0, since Rickover;s Nautilus.

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    19. Alex Cannara

      logged in via Facebook

      In reply to Greg Edeson

      Don't know much what to say, Geoff. You say you don't have the stats but go ahead and allege things about Chernobyl deaths of civilians that have been studied by many agencies and found unresolvable as to unusual radiation cause -- excepting the state-induced thyroid cancers, which indee were >97% survived -- my wife survived hers. Read the WHO and other UN reports.

      And you say: "I think 20 years ago there may have been a case for nuclear as a transition power, but now there’s no need. The…

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    20. Luke Weston

      Physicist / electronic engineer

      In reply to Jonathan Maddox

      You said "It is the reprocessing facilities which are the likely source of weapons material in a fission-powered world, rather than reactors themselves."

      This specifically implies that you're equating "reprocessing" with selective plutonium extraction.

      "Reprocessing" is a very broad term, and it's not particularly useful in and of itself. Better to use more specific language as to what sort of processing you mean.

      "*requires* enrichment of fissile material."

      I assume you define "enrichment" in the way the term is normally used, namely the concentration of U-235 in uranium. Enrichment, for this definition of enrichment, is not part of any typical "reprocessing" process, although the reprocessed uranium can in theory be re-enriched. (Not economically attractive today relative to the use of fresh natural uranium, so it's largely stockpiled.)

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    21. Shirley Birney

      logged in via email @tpg.com.au

      In reply to Alex Cannara

      1) Please cease dazzling readers with pseudo-science since WHO has had a gag agreement with the IAEA since 1959. http://www.crms-jpn.com/doc/IAEA-WHO1959.pdf

      2) "Environmental Health Perspectives (EHP) is a monthly journal of peer-reviewed research and news published with support from the US’s National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences, National Institutes of Health and the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.

      EHP: "Radiation and the Risk of Chronic Lymphocytic and Other Leukemias among Chornobyl Cleanup Workers:

      "Conclusions: Exposure to low doses and low dose-rates of radiation from post-Chornobyl cleanup work was associated with a significant increase in risk of leukemia, which was statistically consistent with estimates for the Japanese atomic bomb survivors. Based on the primary analysis, we conclude that CLL and non-CLL are both radiosensitive."

      http://ehp.niehs.nih.gov/wp
      content/uploads/2012/11/ehp.1204996.pdf

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    22. Alex Cannara

      logged in via Facebook

      In reply to Shirley Birney

      Yes, Shirley, and that is well known, and you can look up the discussion of actual details, plus other, non-Chernobyl studies here... http://tinyurl.com/c8vrc8y

      And, the UN has, in 2012 end, released their revised assessment standards for radiation risk, finally correcting an error incorporated without scientific support, over 6 decades ago...
      www.un.org/ga/search/view_doc.asp?symbol=A/67/46

      Using Chernobyl as an anti-nuke crutch, however, just reveals one to be uninterested in what "nuclear power" actually is around the world, and uninterested in environmental facts that lead to environmental progress.

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    23. Jonathan Maddox
      Jonathan Maddox is a Friend of The Conversation.

      Software Engineer

      In reply to Shirley Birney

      Shirley nobody has ever disputed that the Chernobyl accident caused numerous deaths among the plant and cleanup workers and not a few long-term cancers among the innocent bystanders. It is also generally accepted that it contributes somewhat to excess cancer cases, especially (treatable) thyroid cancers, among the exposed population.

      You're providing no new information, and nothing that the WHO or anyone else would dispute.

      The agreement between the WHO and the IAEA does exist, but to call it a "conspiracy" to misinform the public with regard to the health effects of major incidents which are on the public record is an extraordinary claim which requires extraordinary proof.

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    24. Shirley Birney

      logged in via email @tpg.com.au

      In reply to Jonathan Maddox

      No I have not called the gag agreement between WHO and the IAEA a "conspiracy." Please refrain from putting words in my mouth. The WHO/IAEA gag is without doubt, "a conflict of interest." WHO do not have a gag agreement with the coal industry.

      Public health and the nuclear industry are very poor bedfellows. I am confident that the many thousands of radiation victims in the US (including families of the deceased) would be in agreement.

      "Trust us, there is no immediate danger."

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    25. Alex Cannara

      logged in via Facebook

      In reply to Shirley Birney

      As they say, Shirley. ime to: "Put up or shut up".
      ;]
      I'd love to hear this documented...
      "I am confident that the many thousands of radiation victims in the US (including families of the deceased)"

      But, even if true, nuclear power here has saved about 4,000 lives a year since it became a significant substitute for coal plants in the '60s.

      But maybe you think our EPA lies too? You credibility is decaying nearly as fast as I131.
      ;]

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    26. Geoff Russell

      Computer Programmer, Author

      In reply to Shirley Birney

      "gag" ... "conspiracy", it is neither and irrelevant. The latest WHO report on Fukushima had input from 21 people who were officials of neither WHO nor IAEA.

      http://apps.who.int/iris/bitstream/10665/78218/1/9789241505130_eng.pdf

      These are mainly academics with no interest in being gagged by anybody and with their professional reputation for excellence to protect. Do you have a problem with the report? Have you even read it?

      It's a standard anti-nuke strategy when you can't find fault with…

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    27. Shirley Birney

      logged in via email @tpg.com.au

      In reply to Alex Cannara

      “As they say, Shirley. ime (sic) to: "Put up or shut up".”

      Mr Cannara, speaking of credibility, forgive me for presuming that as an American citizen, you are astonishingly ignorant of the facts documented on your own government’s websites concerning “the thousands of radiation victims in the US (including the families of the deceased)” as well as the occupational illnesses caused by any of the tens of thousands of toxic substances that are present in the weapons complex.

      http://www.dol.gov/opa/media/press/OWCP/OWCP20121537.htm

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    28. Shirley Birney

      logged in via email @tpg.com.au

      In reply to Geoff Russell

      I believe you are one of the gentlemen who has failed to acknowledge that nuclear power plants slaughter billions of marine life every year and continues to do so. Your derogatory remarks about Helen Caldicott are rather futile if not desperate. She's a woman whom I have never quoted though she has my respect. Any errors she may make are preferable to remaining wilfully silent and deliberately dodging the irrefutable evidence that conflicts with your agenda.

      In regards to your question…

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    29. Luke Weston

      Physicist / electronic engineer

      In reply to Jonathan Maddox

      But renewables require substantially more typical manufacturing and construction per GWh of electric power delivered than nuclear power.

      So you'd always expect substantially more deaths per GWh than nuclear power, irrespective of the scale of deployment.

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    30. Alex Cannara

      logged in via Facebook

      In reply to Shirley Birney

      Shirley, do you really want to expose your proensity to fib to all here?

      Remember, I said long ago I was opposed to once-through water cooling of any kind of power plant, or even the Chicago River pumping, that cannot be made to prevent marine deaths?

      Reme mber that, Shirley?

      Your desperation is showing.

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    31. Alex Cannara

      logged in via Facebook

      In reply to Geoff Russell

      Right Geoff. Odd how facts are such problems for some folks who claim environmental mantels.
      ;]

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    32. Jonathan Maddox
      Jonathan Maddox is a Friend of The Conversation.

      Software Engineer

      In reply to Luke Weston

      > But renewables require substantially more typical manufacturing and construction per GWh of electric power delivered than nuclear power.

      > So you'd always expect substantially more deaths per GWh than nuclear power, irrespective of the scale of deployment.

      This would be a fair point if the manufacturing and construction costs of renewables really were "substantially more" than those of nuclear energy. They are not, any more, so your case is "substantially" overstated. Sheer volume of material…

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    33. John Nicol

      logged in via email @bigpond.com

      In reply to Shirley Birney

      Shirley Birney,

      As you may see from my earlier comments here, I do not agree with your analysis of the relative dangers of nuclear versus coal and gas or renewables, but I totally accept that you have put forward a cogent argument supporting your case and I respect that as well as the case you have made in your several comments here.

      Unfortunately you will find, as you have here already, and probably elsewhere, that there are a number of bloggers who will not refute your arguments but will…

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    34. Alex Cannara

      logged in via Facebook

      In reply to Jonathan Maddox

      "I don't think atypical manufacturing and construction as required in the nuclear industry is inherently more safe than "typical" manufacturing and construction, do you?"

      The dangers of "renewables" manufacturing is difficult to assign, because of the variety of sources for materials, as well as their natures. In the semiconductor business, a simple gas leak in manufacturing can yield worker comments like: "Oh that's smells goooo..." as they fall dead from Silane inhalation, not their co-workers lotion.
      ;]
      For wind, not only are all industries represented in materials & products utilized, but so are gymnastic skills of workers at high altitudes -- we're rarely shown pictures of how workers rappel around a windmill to clean blades, etc. My Sierra Club made a mistake of romanicizing such pictures in its recent Sierra magazine. They didn't realize how they exposed real worker hazards in wind power -- the same hazards that killed 2 guys last year here.

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    35. Shirley Birney

      logged in via email @tpg.com.au

      In reply to John Nicol

      John, I appreciate your kind words of encouragement. Thank you.

      Shirley

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    36. Shirley Birney

      logged in via email @tpg.com.au

      In reply to Alex Cannara

      No I do not remember you alluding to OTC nuclear reactors in my "presence." Kindly provide a link to substantiate your allegation.

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    37. Alex Cannara

      logged in via Facebook

      In reply to Shirley Birney

      Very convenient, Shirley, it was right on this site. So if you want respect, show responsibility.

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    38. Alex Cannara

      logged in via Facebook

      In reply to Shirley Birney

      Always nice to see a self-advertizing 'environmentalist' sidling up to a traditional climate denier for comfort.
      ;]

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    39. Shirley Birney

      logged in via email @tpg.com.au

      In reply to Alex Cannara

      When one searches for "Alex Cannara," on this thread, one can expect to receive 94 hits. It is not my responsibility to go on a wild goose chase on your behalf.

      You claim to be a software and networking consultant, having worked for sixteen years in the computer networking field.

      My request is simple and not beyond the capabilities of a computer expert.

      To save face (yours actually) I reiterate, please provide me with a direct link to where you alluded to OTC nuclear reactors slaughtering marine life.

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  8. Ralph Bennett

    Geologist

    Reply to jack Lindsay:

    Tailing dams overflow all the time with "unusual" natural events , together with radon gas emmisions and radiation exposure to workers .

    The "sickness" country on the escarpment in Arnhem Land is an area where Aborigines don't live, because of high radon gas natural emmissions from the the ground .

    Your comment of "Who decides who gets killed ? " , in a stable population scenario was obviously a joke, but designing in balanced migration and family planning ( say 2 children around 30 years of age by education) for all countries, will achieve harmony of all species which "share " the planet .

    This instead of the lies and wishful thinking of endless growth promoters.

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    1. Ben Heard

      Director, ThinkClimate Consulting

      In reply to Ralph Bennett

      Ralph,

      Your preferred population vision is already well and truly happening, all over the world. It just takes time for the impact to pass through.

      http://decarbonisesa.com/2013/01/10/bounding-the-future-essential-thinking-on-population/

      The outcome you suggest, which is the one we are getting, means 9.5-10 billion people in 2050 and probable stabilisation or gentle reduction from there.

      It is not actually relevant to this discussion as a variable we can tweak. It's a parameter we need to work within.

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    1. Ben Heard

      Director, ThinkClimate Consulting

      In reply to Fred Pribac

      I'm glad you found something to like.

      Your comment itself seems to suffer from generalisation and assumptions.

      "Public perception of risk is more complex than simple statistical analyses of number of deaths per mega watt hour. " We know, and agree. But this does not excuse the blatant and deliberate misrepresentation of truth that has occurred from sections of the environmental movement to maintain fear of nuclear power.

      "The strident calls of ... "why don't you trust us we are scientists…

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    2. Fred Pribac

      logged in via email @internode.on.net

      In reply to Ben Heard

      Thank you for your response Ben.

      I apologise for the quotation marks around "why don't you trust us ..." - my intent was to paraphrase a common meme in these sorts of discussions. I should have spotted the incorrect implication of attribution and edited it out.

      As for your comment "this does not excuse the blatant and deliberate misrepresentation of truth that has occurred from sections of the environmental movement to maintain fear of nuclear power."

      This re-iterates the tenet of your…

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    3. Alex Cannara

      logged in via Facebook

      In reply to Ben Heard

      Good comments, Ben. If we in the US had followed the French path -- picking a standard nuke design, building it ourt along with reprocessing and waste disposal, and improving newer builds as appropriate, we too would be >80% carbon free.

      And, the Chinese, visibly copying our nuclear R&D in the '60s & '70s, would be near there as well.

      What a difference a wise brain makes!
      ;]
      Some of us long-time Sierra Club members are working to have the board correct their error of 1986 in going anti-nuclear for no good reason. A heartening number of directors seem to grasp the seriousness of that old error, effectively prolonging combustion power and its associated casualties.

      Fortunately, some organizations like EDF are better at setting policies based on fact.

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    4. Fred Pribac

      logged in via email @internode.on.net

      In reply to Ben Heard

      Some points are well made in your response but ... I still say that you have made some extraordinary claims.

      These amount to the assertion of some massive organisation, or movement, with a deliberate intent to maintain fear of nuclear power!

      I have been questioning the reasoning and evidence that you have brought to bear in putting forward this assertion. I don't believe that you have demonstrated that it is both deliberate, nor peculiar, to "the" environmental movement, as distinct from the…

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    5. Alex Cannara

      logged in via Facebook

      In reply to Fred Pribac

      You seem to be in a circle, Fred. As a member of many environmental groups, I can point to some that clearly are rabidly anti-nuclear because of their desire to be so and their comfort in ignorance.

      My own Sierra Club became such in 1986, NRDC is such today and it's director has been for some years. Even UCS, which I support and which claims neutrality, has folks at high levels who can't hide their anti-nuke activism. thewre are worse groupos that even publish lies -- PSR and IEER are two…

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    6. Ben Heard

      Director, ThinkClimate Consulting

      In reply to Fred Pribac

      "These amount to the assertion of some massive organisation, or movement, with a deliberate intent to maintain fear of nuclear power!"

      I will not engage in a Socratic discussion over the question of whether the environmental movement at large is steadfastly anti-nuclear and does everything possible to prevent the expansion of that power source. That's like asking me to prove that fish swim.

      Your descriptors of the characteristics of nuclear that make the fear easy to maintain are accurate and relevant. That's the tool-kit, and it is exploited unashamedly.

      The environmental/sustainability movement has now spent decades both raising the alarm on climate change and quashing the most effective response. The movement has incurred a unique responsibility for our failure that it must face up to.

      As to the remainder of your comment, you will find plenty from me on those matters at DecarboniseSA.

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    7. Fred Pribac

      logged in via email @internode.on.net

      In reply to Alex Cannara

      How can I say this again so that my point is not misunderstood or misrepresented.

      I did not say that the environmental movement is not generally anti-nuclear ... so Ben's refusal along these lines: "I will not engage in a Socratic discussion over the question of whether the environmental movement at large is steadfastly anti-nuclear and does everything possible to prevent the expansion of that power source." completely misses the point.

      Your anecdotal evidence of anti-nuclear bias also does…

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  9. William Hughes-Games

    Garden weed puller

    Going nuclear is a great idea but not the Uranium type power plants that produce Plutonium for bomb making. The Americans were working on so-called 4th generation power plants early in the piece, using Thorium. They shelved the work because no bomb making material was produced. It is time to revive this work. Better still, if the technology had been worked out, rogue nations would no longer have any excuse for developing a uranium indistry. The technology could be given to them for free and they could have as many nuclear power plants as they want. An added benefit is that these types of power plants can "burn up" nuclear wastes from existing Uranium power plants, greatly reducing both the quantity and half life of the waste they produce.
    http://mtkass.blogspot.co.nz/2010/02/thorium-power.html

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    1. Alex Cannara

      logged in via Facebook

      In reply to William Hughes-Games

      Very good, William. The Thorium-U233 cycle indeed makes miniscule Plutonium, but the isotope that does appear is essential for spacecraft power and of no use for weapons. U233 is only made inside the reactor and unavailable for bombs, because it's sister isotopes are exceedingly strong gamma emitters, thus fatal to any thie and easily detected from satellites. U233 decay also produces some important anti-cancer isotopes.

      The latter is an important issue on which we've fallen behind worldwide...
      www.nature.com/news/2009/090715/full/460312a.html
      www.rsna.org/Publications/rsnanews/July-2010/isotope_feature.cfm
      www.sfgate.com/cgi-bin/article.cgi?f=/c/a/2011/04/02/BU9N1IOIF6.DTL
      http://blogs.forbes.com/kirksorensen/ (isotope separation)
      http://observer.com/2012/12/the-cancer-bomb-how-nuclear-sludge-gave-birth-to-experimental-leukemia-drug/

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    2. Steve Phillips

      Nurse Practitioner

      In reply to Alex Cannara

      The argument against nuclear power follows the same illogical denialist path as the gun control debate. Despite Australian gun sports being safer and with fewer injuries or deaths per capita of participants than even just one sport like Rugby, it is pilloried by the uneducated and illogically biased.
      Nuclear power has achieved 'bogyman' status with about as much evidential justification as the fear of alian invasion.
      Even attempts to debate it are shouted down, you'd think we were advocation the legalising of rape or wife beating.

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    3. Steve Phillips

      Nurse Practitioner

      In reply to Henry Verberne

      Oh do us all a favour and get some perspective please!
      Citing Chernobel is as relevant today as a model T Ford is to car safety on the modern world.
      Building a nuclear power station a in an geoloically unstable environment and staffing it with Japanese managers who culturally cannot admit fault or failure is not an option in Australia.

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    4. Alex Cannara

      logged in via Facebook

      In reply to Henry Verberne

      No, Frank. The WHO has tried to estimate any effects of Chernobyl, which again is not legal nuclear power anywhere else, and it hasn't been able to.

      The thyroid cancers that did occur were fully preventable, as the Japanese did, but even though neglected by their governments, the Chernobyl victims had a 97% survival rate.

      On the other side of the equation, the several other Soviet RBMK reactors remain operating and so continue to compile thousands of years of lives saved, due to elimination of combustion power,. The estimate worldwide of a few million years of life saved by nuclear is conservative. Fukushima alone saved over 130,000 years of Japanese lives.

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  10. Gordon Angus Mackinlay

    Clinical Psychologist

    It is good to see the Gloom and Doom Brigade making as always their sheer lack of any attempt to provide informed comment, just trotting the familiar rubbish.

    What is always forgotten is that efficient and reliable electrical power production (apart from hydro) is produced by the driving of turbines (etc) by superheated steam, such does not need to be supplied by the use of potable water, but can be filtered sewage, seawater, in ground brackish water. By various processes rather than just venting…

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  11. Tyson Adams

    Scientist and author

    Idealism, meet reality. Now say hello and shake hands.

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  12. Anthony Nolan

    logged in via email @hotmail.com

    Ulrich Beck, the German sociologist of 'risk society', once commented that arguing with nuclear proponents is akin to arm wrestling yourself over a table, ie, it is a no-win situation once you've accepted the technical terms on which the debate is conducted.

    Therefore I'll point to the non-technical issue around nuclear power generation which is that for it to be acceptable to the general public there will need to be new models of corporate governance in which commitment to transparency and accountability rank at the same order as the generation of power.

    In other words, it's not the technology, but human frailty that concerns us.

    See, for example, Prof John Keane's thoughts on 'the culture of silence' within the corporations that have created notable ecological disasters in recent times:

    http://johnkeane.net/51/media/silence-power-catastrophe

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    1. Alex Cannara

      logged in via Facebook

      In reply to Anthony Nolan

      Agree completely -- "it's not the technology, but human frailty that concerns us"

      Anyone can see this if they read the final Fukushima Independent Commission report: www.nirs.org/fukushima/naiic_report.pdf

      and then examine the other utilities' reactors around Japan, such as Onagawa.

      The issue is clear, the benefits from properly managed nuclear beat all other sources, except perhaps local solar on structures.

      The Commission's director (Kurokawa) is a very competent, honest doctor, and…

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    2. Fred Pribac

      logged in via email @internode.on.net

      In reply to Alex Cannara

      You are spot on here Alex.

      I like some of the ideas around new nuclear technologies but note that with new technologies come new unforeseen problems. I'd hate to see the world peppered with Fukushima and Chernobyl sized no go zones as part of our learning curve.

      How would you propose ensuring against human frailities?

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    3. Alex Cannara

      logged in via Facebook

      In reply to Fred Pribac

      No humans, Fred.
      ;]
      remeber, we're the most dangerouis animal -- just look at some of the posts here.

      Obviously, nuclear power regulation and management has achieved more than any other power generation system in terms of clean energy and minimal consequences.

      It's interesting see how the wind folks hide their human costs -- not as expertly as cellular companies hide celltower injuries & deaths, but pretty well.

      You're on the wrong planet with the wrong dominant species if you want guaranteed safety.

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    4. Fred Pribac

      logged in via email @internode.on.net

      In reply to Alex Cannara

      I agree with you here also.

      The point where I may diverge is that I identify that societies make decisions around acceptable risk that often have more to do with visceral and instinctive fears and religious beliefs than with logic and I take this pragmatically. Who is to say that this is not a valid way of operating? We already do it and have been doing it for ever. We base our governance on modern illogical interpretations of the tenets of a bronze age retelling of even earlier fables and myths. We already have many illogical rulings around death and danger.

      These sorts of decisions value comfortable socially mandated beliefs over logic. The good news is they are mutable and do change. However, if the arguments against crazy social beliefs are not scrupulously logical and respectfully presented they can simply further entrench the crazies.

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    5. Alex Cannara

      logged in via Facebook

      In reply to Fred Pribac

      "...visceral and instinctive fears and religious beliefs than with logic and I take this pragmatically. Who is to say that this is not a valid way of operating?" -- anyone who remembers history and doesn't wish to repeat its mistakes.

      If people hold unshakable, unthinking, unethical beliefs, no one can do anything except expose them, and not hire them or live near them.
      ;]

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  13. justinTNT

    logged in via Twitter

    TL;DR
    "We've tried nothing, and nothing's worked"
    Therefore, nuclear.

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    1. Wil B

      B.Sc, GDipAppSci, MEnvSc, Environmental Planner

      In reply to justinTNT

      "too long, didn't read", eh? Well thanks for your well thought and cogently argued out views in any event.

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    2. Jonathan Maddox
      Jonathan Maddox is a Friend of The Conversation.

      Software Engineer

      In reply to Wil B

      > So your perception of renewables is is that we haven't tried anything? That they're all still in early development?

      No Wil, I was not saying this was my perception and nor was justinTNT saying it was his perception.

      We're both saying that this is what Barry Brook and Ben Heard are saying in the article up top. You may take it as read that neither of us agree.

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    1. Ben Heard

      Director, ThinkClimate Consulting

      In reply to Aaron Oakley

      "I would also be happy for my family, including children aged 7 and 9 to live near a nuclear power plant of modern design."

      Likewise, I would be completely untroubled.

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    2. Alex Cannara

      logged in via Facebook

      In reply to Aaron Oakley

      Sanity! And nuclear power is 'greener' than most, especially when it can use what we naively call 'waste'.

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  14. Andrew Stiles

    Teacher

    Too expensive, too dangerous, uses too much water, too many "accidents" too much risk of sabotage, and we still can't work out what to do with those pesky wastes. This old chestnut comes up time and time again, sponsored by nuclear lobby "talking points" and those with either a vested interest or who don't have the life experience or economic insight to realise they aren't arguing with the people on the street or endeavouring to influence opinions on a forum, they are arguing with simple economics. No insurer will touch it, and our governments can't afford to underwrite. This is the worst country in the world to be talking about nuclear, we have so many other options. Frankly, I feel we've been down this road with Coal, I see nuclear as inevitably more dangerous to our long term health.

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    1. Alex Cannara

      logged in via Facebook

      In reply to Andrew Stiles

      Well Andrew, at least we've learned you don't read!

      "Too expensive, too dangerous, uses too much water, too many "accidents" too much risk of sabotage, and we still can't work out what to do with those pesky wastes."

      Remember, your acceptance is irrelevant. Disposing of your misinformation is all most care about.

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  15. Ralph Bennett

    Geologist

    To Ben Heard :

    "The outcome .............., means 9.5-10 billion people in 2050 and probable stabilisation or gentle reduction from there.
    It is not actually relevant to this discussion as a variable we can tweak. It's a parameter we need to work within."

    Ben, have you any comprhension of the habitat loss and best farmland loss with 10 billion people. Catastrophic.

    Head out of the sand and empathy for the planet . Design in rapid stabiliisation at all levels of Govt worldwide, including the United Nations and foreign aid .

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    1. Ben Heard

      Director, ThinkClimate Consulting

      In reply to Ralph Bennett

      "have you any comprhension".

      Yes I do. But complaining about the number is like objecting to the tide coming in. That's my point that you are (deliberately?) missing. Without deliberately eliminating people, it's already decided to within about 500 million people.

      We have to find a way through it.

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    2. Ben Heard

      Director, ThinkClimate Consulting

      In reply to Jonathan Maddox

      Quite so.

      I would be happy to land at 9.5bn and not 10 bn. Happily is mainly a case of justice and opportunities for women, something we can all support.

      Meanwhile, if we can give everyone energy that is decoupled from GHG emissions and other air pollution, that's a big win. Because everyone will seek energy either way.

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  16. Ulf Steinvorth

    Doctor

    The disclosure statement at the beginning of this article does not reveal the co-authorship of Mr Heard, instead this is only added on at the end.

    As Director of a think tank that offers "helping our clients through nuclear power advocacy" http://www.thinkclimateconsulting.com.au/projects/
    The website offers 64 articles about nuclear, 26 about its safety and economical basis and 20 about renewables.

    I think in a scientific discussion that deserves a mention next to the original authors with a clear mention of this conflict of interest rather than a footnote without further explanation of the agenda of this company.

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    1. Wil B

      B.Sc, GDipAppSci, MEnvSc, Environmental Planner

      In reply to Ulf Steinvorth

      Mr Steinverth, please could you explain the conflict? Ben Heard obviously knows about and advocates for nuclear power. This article provides knoweldge about and advocates for nuclear power.

      So I'm missing the nefariousness. Cui bono? Not Mr Heard AFAIK.

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    2. Ben Heard

      Director, ThinkClimate Consulting

      In reply to Ulf Steinvorth

      Ulf,

      You have misprinted.

      Firstly, ThinkClimate Consulting is not a Think Tank. It's my independent advisory business.

      Secondly, the word on the site is not "advocacy", it's "advisory". The former make me sound like a shill, which I am not. Should clients seek advice, it's a service. My business is one of research, analysis , strategy and advice in the areas of climate change and sustainability in which I have knowledge and expertise. Nuclear power is one area.

      I do advocate voluntarily, under my own name and brand and on behalf of no-one. I have done for many years, with the recompense of an occasional speaking fee.

      Do feel free to scan the list of projects on that very same page to get a feel for what I do for a living, and who my clients are. In future, you might do that first?

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    3. Alex Cannara

      logged in via Facebook

      In reply to Ulf Steinvorth

      Ulf, if I have knowledge that's true and of value to others, and I post it where there are some thinking otherwise, am I guilty of conflict of interest?

      Is you doctor guilty when he/she recommends a particular treatment or drug?

      The pieces on their site are true to my knowledge. What;s the problem?

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    4. Ulf Steinvorth

      Doctor

      In reply to Ben Heard

      Ben, apologies for the typo, but you will agree that the disclosure statement at the beginning of this article states very clearly what might constitute a conflict of interest:

      that the author "does not work for, consult to, own shares in or receive funding from any company or organisation that would benefit from this article, and has no relevant affiliations".

      As one of the not initially mentioned co-authors your current position would prevent you from making such a statement which might…

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    5. In reply to Luke Weston

      Comment removed by moderator.

    6. Ben Heard

      Director, ThinkClimate Consulting

      In reply to Ulf Steinvorth

      Ulf,

      Yes, I am fine with your reasoning. Just asking you to be careful with the hair-trigger response. It's not that nice a thing to have to answer when I spend so much of my time, that I actually could use to make money, doing this type of thing instead free of charge.

      Please see my response above.

      As a non-academic at this time The Conversation made different requests of my than my lead authors. I don't mind providing disclosure but it was not requested.

      As to the quality of the arguments/parties that could benefit etc... perhaps re-read the piece. Does it really come across as some kind of sales to you?

      You can read about me here http://www.thinkclimateconsulting.com.au/personnel/ and here http://decarbonisesa.com/about/ . A high standard of disclosure, I am sure you will agree.

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    7. In reply to Ben Heard

      Comment removed by moderator.

    8. In reply to Ben Heard

      Comment removed by moderator.

    9. In reply to Ben Heard

      Comment removed by moderator.

    10. Ulf Steinvorth

      Doctor

      In reply to Wil B

      Ben has now declared that he does not have a conflict of interest with his business so the issue is clarified.

      The reason I suspected a conflict of interest is his business advising on matters nuclear. If a non-nuclear country decides to go nuclear I thought that would be likely to increase demand and price for nuclear advice and increase his business and income thus giving him a reason to advocate nuclear energy beyond his environmental beliefs.

      Solar advisory companies certainly did not complain…

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  17. Doug Hutcheson

    Poet

    "irrational fears stemming from the Fukushima accident". Hello? Irrational? I consider a fear of something similar happening to your local neighbourhood reactor to be eminently rational. Indeed, it would be irrational to NOT fear a repeat of a dangerous outcome. Ill-considered, perhaps. Ill-informed, perhaps. Irrational? Nope. The problem is not that a predictable human reaction has occurred, but that the nuclear debate has not been conducted on rational lines, so it is not surprising that Mr. Joe Average only sees the spectre of the Grim Reaper every time nuclear power is mentioned.

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    1. Alex Cannara

      logged in via Facebook

      In reply to Doug Hutcheson

      Doug, did you even bother to read the Fukushima report? Did you even bother to look up the Onagawa nuclear plant? Did you even bother to read the various reports documenting superior nuclear safety over 50 years?

      Why, if not, should your words have weight?

      Let's make it easy...
      www.nirs.org/fukushima/naiic_report.pdf
      http://tinyurl.com/42wvr9l
      http://nextbigfuture.com/2011/03/deaths-per-twh-by-energy-source.html
      www.forbes.com/sites/jamesconca/2012/06/10/energys-deathprint-a-price-always-paid/
      www.scientificamerican.com/article.cfm?id=the-human-cost-of-energy

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    2. David Maddern

      logged in via Facebook

      In reply to Doug Hutcheson

      Elsewhere here I have outlined why people don't trust Govenment to make decisions on this stuff, it is not irrational but experiential.

      They simply won't believe what the promoting Company says, and is it little wonder with the 'corrupt' approvals of coal seam gas, now intruding into their lives.

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    3. Doug Hutcheson

      Poet

      In reply to Alex Cannara

      Alex, if you re-read my comment, you will see I am not disagreeing with you: my comment is merely that fear of nuclear accident is perfectly rational, given the way the whole debate has been framed. Indeed, I observed that such fear is ill-considered and ill-informed.

      My point is that the fear is not irrational, given what Mr. Average hears in the media. Mr. Average is not going to have read the articles and reports you point to: he is most likely to have formed his opinion based on what the mainstream media have told him to think.

      All I am saying is that 'irrational' is the wrong word to have used in the original article. Just sayin'.

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    4. Alex Cannara

      logged in via Facebook

      In reply to Doug Hutcheson

      Got it Doug, thanks. I'd choose uninformed rather than irrational, since the media are largely the source of the lack of information 9to twist meanings).
      ;]
      An example to use with anyone who's written about Fukushima....

      a) ask if they read the 17 Oct 2011 New Yorker article by Osnos, who spent time there and discivered the ancient, hand carved stone tablets all over Sendai that read: "Don't build here".

      b) Ask if they'd studied & written about the tens of other plants, especially the closer one to the quake (Onagawa) and how they did.

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  18. David Maddern

    logged in via Facebook

    Nuclear Advocates miss a trick when advocating perhaps they should talk about a pebble bed nuclear plant (or better technology) out of seismic and inundation potential land, preferably no good for anything else, proposed for a site away from people and National Parks. Is that too much an ask?

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    1. Alex Cannara

      logged in via Facebook

      In reply to David Maddern

      Pebbles in liquid salt is what the Chinese are working on right now, in preparation for dismissing the expensive pebbles and moving to mlecules (of salt) by 2023.

      The Germans built the first operating pebble-bed reactor and sold it to the Chinese, along with pebble-making gear. It retains the solid waste profile of present reactors, but allows higher temperatures and efficiency.

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    1. Ben Heard

      Director, ThinkClimate Consulting

      In reply to Steve Hindle

      I appreciate you taking the time to post that comment.

      I knew essentially nothing about radiation a few years ago (when I was anti-nuclear).

      If this area is of interest, I found the book "Radiation and Reason" by Wade Allison to be an excellent entry point for the non-specialist.

      Best wishes.

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    2. Ben Heard

      Director, ThinkClimate Consulting

      In reply to Alex Cannara

      Thanks for sharing resources Alex, always appreciated. I have a number of presentations freely available at SlideShare, you may find something useful there.

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    3. Alex Cannara

      logged in via Facebook

      In reply to Ben Heard

      I found a Ben Heard on Slide Share who seems to like "A Monk in the Works" -- is that you!?

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    4. Steve Hindle

      logged in via email @bigpond.com

      In reply to Alex Cannara

      Thanks for the links Alex and Ben, the radiation dose chart is very good for putting so many events in context. It is information like this that helps sort out real dangers and risks from many exaggerated dangers.

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    5. Alex Cannara

      logged in via Facebook

      In reply to Steve Hindle

      Glad to hear that Steve, just watch your banana & nut intake.
      ;]

      Actually, when the movie "Pandora's Promise" comes down your way, enjoy the scenes of our more ignorant 'environmentalists' (they're really not) having "banana breaks" while protesting to shut down the Shoreham nuke on Long Island in the '80s.

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  19. Brooke Berry

    logged in via Facebook

    Are there moderators who can edit out the name-calling posts? Very distracting.

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  20. Yoron Hamber

    Thinking

    In a sane world :) Whatever that is? We would agree on having less kids, until we got down the population world wide. That would enable us to use the renewable resources we have, as water, sun, waves etc. But we will probably solve it anyway, by war as I expect, although that solution never can be more than a shot time solution.

    And the cake we eat and live from (earth) will grow smaller and smaller by each cycle, until it becomes so small that the last big jaw opening its mouth to tell us citizens…

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    1. Yoron Hamber

      Thinking

      In reply to Yoron Hamber

      my spelling leaves a lot to wish for here :)
      Blame it on me just having got up from the bed, ahem.

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  21. Ulf Steinvorth

    Doctor

    Ben Heard,
    could you please confirm that like your co-author Tom Wigley you do "not work for, consult to, own shares in or receive funding from any company or organisation that would benefit from this article, and has no relevant affiliations"?
    If you cannot would you be so kind as to disclose to the reader the companies that might benefit from this article that you have had involvement of that kind with?

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    1. Ben Heard

      Director, ThinkClimate Consulting

      In reply to Ulf Steinvorth

      Ulf,

      At this point, yes I can. However I am in private business, and if an opportunity arose tomorrow in any areas where I can provide useful services, I would follow it up.

      I have written for The Conversation previously as a teaching academic for Adelaide University. My disclosure on that occasion was:

      "Ben Heard has delivered mandatory greenhouse reporting for Heathgate Resources through ThinkClimate Consulting. He has received assistance with travel expenses to Perth from Toro Resources for the purpose of an unpaid presentation."

      That's as much as I could come up with! It remains accurate. Note the madatory greenhouse reporting is just that, mandatory reporting, not strategic work, and ThinkClimate can do it for any of the 1,000 companies captured by the NGER legislation.

      If you have other straight questions, by all means ask. I am happy to give straight answers.

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    2. In reply to Ben Heard

      Comment removed by moderator.

  22. John Nicol

    logged in via email @bigpond.com

    This is a clearly written article which sets out the case for nuclear energy from the point of view of an environmentalist. Barry has consistently called for debate on this topic and in many other forums has demonstrated the need for a nuclear industry in Australia and elsewhere.

    Unfortunately, the politics of an antinuclear society is so well ingrained in the Australian psyche that no politician, no matter how convinced of the safety of nuclear reactors, will touch it. These efficient generators…

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  23. Shirley Birney

    logged in via email @tpg.com.au

    Rio Tinto states that they follow strict security measures to ensure their uranium products are used only for peaceful purposes.

    Rio Tinto has had a JV with Iran at the Rossing U mine in Namibia for >3 decades. How much of Rio’s Australian shareholders’ dollars enriched Iran’s uranium levels to potentially build a nuclear bomb? The US is outraged but do they not speak from both sides of the mouth?

    To date, more than $110.8 million in EEOICPA compensation and medical benefits has been paid…

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    1. Alex Cannara

      logged in via Facebook

      In reply to Shirley Birney

      So Shirley, whom are you going to approach for compensation if you think you have a cancer from your banana-nut bred Potassium40 content? Or maybe from the Uranium & its decay products you've ingested in the yellow-cake fields?

      And to this: "The US is outraged but do they not speak from both sides of the mouth? " -- the answer: yes.

      Have you checked your mercury or lead levels in nerves & bones lately? What about BisPhA from your plastic containers? Have any Chinese wallboard in your home…

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    2. Shirley Birney

      logged in via email @tpg.com.au

      In reply to Alex Cannara

      "What;s the point of your focus on radioactivity?"

      Ummm, It's prudent to stay on topic. What's your off-topic points on mercury, lead, Chinese wallpaper and BisPhA?

      Red herrings? Dead cats across my path?

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  24. Ivan Quail

    maverick

    Thanks for a very interesting piece Barry and Tom and all the interesting comments by the well in formed.
    Regarding renewable energy in Australia.

    The Tides of the Kimberly can generate 10 times more electricity than we currently generate in the whole of Australia. Installed National generating capacity is about 54Gwatts

    Too far away you think. A 6G/watt (6,000Mw) bulk HVDC power line can transmit the power to Sydney for a cost of 1c per Kw hr. It is cheaper to build and operate a bulk HVDC…

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  25. Ivan Quail

    maverick

    Thanks for your comments and information Greg and Shirley. Very informative

    Chernobyl put 200 times more radioactive material into the atmosphere than the Hiroshima bomb did!
    In all countries with nuclear weapons the entire Nuclear industry is protected by the Official
    Secrets Act. On the Cumbrian coast the incidence of childhood leukaemia is 9 times more than the national average. It is of course purely co-incidental that Windscale is nearby.

    In the Soviet Union the secret Mayak processing…

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    1. Alex Cannara

      logged in via Facebook

      In reply to Ivan Quail

      Interesting how your logic must rely on illegal activities, such as the illegal reactors at Chernobyl, ot what the Soviets did with weapons wastes.

      So you clearly understand that civilian nuclear is the safest form of mass generation, unless you prefer to believe the Soviets rather than the Swiss, your other 'evil doers' rather than European doctors with scruples, or even the UN, which apparently you also think evil, like our more desperately-craven politicians in the US.

      Let's just sample…

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    2. Jonathan Maddox
      Jonathan Maddox is a Friend of The Conversation.

      Software Engineer

      In reply to Alex Cannara

      Alex, I don't understand why you repeatedly say RBMK reactors are "illegal". Maybe the design has never been sanctioned by U.S. national authorities, but this also applies to almost every potential design never yet built, none of which you describe as "illegal".

      The lack of US approval also doesn't speak to legality in other countries. I'm sure you'll concur that every nation is free to make its own independent mistakes, legislatively speaking.

      Quite obviously RBMKs were legal in the Soviet Union at the time of construction, and continue to be operated legally in several former Soviet countries.

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  26. ian cheong

    logged in via email @acm.org

    Emotional arguments go round and round. Financial and economic analysis is where the guts of the answer is. IIRC nuclear requires a very large capital investment and so becomes uneconomical compared to coal without a carbon tax.

    So with europe shunning nuclear, the nuclear industry needs to find a market somewhere. Australia and developing countries are the targets.

    Certainly the high dollar makes nuclear more favourable now than probably ever before. Which political arty has the pro-nuclear policy???

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    1. Alex Cannara

      logged in via Facebook

      In reply to ian cheong

      Ian, if a very large capital investment last for >100 years , and produces income of ~2,000,000,000 x 100 x local electricity rate for that time, with little environmental impact or tax, would one be unemotionally wise to share in it?

      You do realize how much of a large investment in a nuclear plant is about as permanent as any large man-made structure, right?

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    1. Christina Macpherson

      logged in via Facebook

      In reply to Mark Duffett

      Senator Lindsey Graham (South Carolina) promotes both coal,gas and nuclear.
      The nuke lobby brags about the nukes "under construction". many of them have been under construction for over decade. Notoriously there's the Olkiluoto reactor in Finland, and the Flamanville one in France.
      So you reckon all those Middle Eastern and Asian countries don't want the option to develop nuclear weapons? They all saw what happened to Iran.

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    2. Steve Hindle

      logged in via email @bigpond.com

      In reply to Mark Duffett

      "And the rest is misleading at best" I fully agree with that.
      This started as an interesting discussion but sadly it degenerated into the usual unsouced wild claims. Here is another one "The nuclear fuel cycle .....produces heaps of greenhouse gases".

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    3. Luke Weston

      Physicist / electronic engineer

      In reply to Christina Macpherson

      "The nuclear fuel cycle from cradle (uranium mining) to grave (dead reactors and waste repositories) produces heaps of greenhouse gases."

      Show me. In peer-reviewed scientifically-credible published research literature.

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    4. Alex Cannara

      logged in via Facebook

      In reply to Steve Hindle

      To see how nuclear, geo, hydro & wind have about the same GHG emissions burden, look at...

      "Comparison of Life Cycle Emissions in Metric Tonnes of CO2e per GW-hour for various modes of Electricity Production", P.J. Meier, in: "Life-Cycle Assessment of electricity Generation Systems with Applications for Climate Change Policy Analysis",

      And, for wind, it's likely an underestimate, because not enough reliability history exists, and maintenance and backup of extended wind farms is highly fossil-fuel dependent.

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    5. Ulf Steinvorth

      Doctor

      In reply to Mark Duffett

      A policy paper by a Nuclear Energy lobbying group (NEI) is hardly good evidence to rule out a military interest in atomic energy.

      If you look at the actual number of nuclear reactors the military connection becomes rather clear:
      USA 104, UK 16, Russian Federation 33, France 58, India 20, Pakistan 3, China 23, Korea (Republic) 23

      280 reactors out of a total of 437 are operating in the 7 countries building and maintaining nuclear weapons - almost twice of all other non-nuclear weapons countries…

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    6. Ulf Steinvorth

      Doctor

      In reply to Alex Cannara

      Alex, falling back to abusive tone and derogatory remarks may sound superior to you but they tend to come out when the own arguments get thin - are they not an accepted standard on this platform.

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  27. Ivan Quail

    maverick

    In reply to Ian Cheong and others

    “Financial and economic argument are the guts of the matter.” Yes indeed.
    Figures have been quoted above by Geoff Russel that the incidence of cancer in Australia reveal 6000 more cases than in the old Soviet Union as a result of Chernobyl for the same time period. Could this be due to the fallout from atmospheric testing at Montebello and Marralinga? After all there are 47 pastoral leases in the Woomera testing range which includes the Marralinga site which…

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  28. Christina Macpherson

    logged in via Facebook

    In reply to Steve Hindle
    who wants me to supply "peer reviewed" studies, to prove my "misleading" claim that the nuclear fuel cycle emits greenhouse gases.
    Now that's a typical ploy designed to shut up the peasantry, such as me, from daring to state obvious facts. We're supposed to be dazzled with this scientific approach. Well - we're not dazzled. Obviously the mining, transport, construction, demolition, waste disposal - many elements of the nuclear fuel cycle do emit greenhouse gases, contrary to the claim that nuclear power is emissions free. You don't need a PhD or a peer review to observe that.

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    1. Mark Duffett
      Mark Duffett is a Friend of The Conversation.

      logged in via Twitter

      In reply to Christina Macpherson

      Christina, what's been taken issue with is your original statement 'nuclear emits heaps of greenhouse gases'. "Heaps" clearly implies 'relative to other energy generation technologies'; any other meaning is trivial, as it can be ascribed to any other significant industrial activity in a modern economy. And the imputation connoted by 'heaps' is, as has been demonstrated. wrong. If you find Steve Hindle's reference daunting, try this one:

      http://www.parliament.uk/documents/post/postpn_383-carbon-footprint-electricity-generation.pdf

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  29. Ivan Quail

    maverick

    In reply to Alex Cannara
    Thanks for posting your credentials earlier and for your inputs.
    “Spoken like a good climate denier.” Yes indeed.
    Earlier you referred to “the final report on Fukushima” It is not final by a very long way.
    To Quote from the report ”They continue to face grave concerns, including the
    health effects of radiation exposure, displacement, the dissolution of families, disruption of their lives and lifestyles and the contamination of vast areas of the environment. There is…

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  30. Ivan Quail

    maverick

    In reply to Alex Cannara

    I am surprised that you mention Radon Gas in connection with Geothermal. It has a half life of 3.825 days.
    It does not hang around on grass for thousands of years to be ingested and concentrated by cows in their milk and flesh!

    In Australia the tyranny of distance has long been an impediment to the development of remote resources.
    This problem has now been solved by both ABB and Siemens with HVDC power lines. 3.5% transmission loss per 1000 Kilo meters. Read their websites.

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  31. Christina Macpherson

    logged in via Facebook

    Inreply to Mark Duffett
    What I do find "daunting" is the mainstream media swallowing pro nuclear lies - such as the one about nuclear power being "emissions free".

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  32. Ken Fabian

    Mr

    I strongly disagree with the primary point Brooks and Wigley are making;
    anti-nuclear activism is not the primary reason that nuclear is not on Australia's energy agenda as climate solution - climate science denialism threaded through mainstream politics is. Until denialism loses the fake gloss of legitimacy and respectability conservative politics helps give it conservative politics will fail to put any genuine policies to tackle emissions on their agenda; no big and sufficient investments in…

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