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Swiss To End Use of Nuclear Power 470

Posted by samzenpus
from the no-nukes-for-you dept.
mdsolar writes "Energy minister Doris Leuthard is set to propose Switzerland gradually exits nuclear power, two Swiss newspapers reported on Sunday, citing sources close to the government. The multi-party Swiss government was expected to make an announcement on nuclear policy on Wednesday and may recommend an exit. Switzerland's five nuclear reactors generate about 40 percent of the country's electricity."
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Swiss To End Use of Nuclear Power

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    • by xMrFishx (1956084) on Sunday May 22, 2011 @10:09AM (#36208698)
      Pacifism, obviously.
      • by StripedCow (776465) on Sunday May 22, 2011 @10:12AM (#36208730)

        They'll put a paddle-wheel in the cash-flow going to the nation's banks.

      • They will replace it with the power of peace.
      • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

        by Anonymous Coward

        Pacifism, obviously.

        Switzerland's policy is neutrality not pacifism. They have compulsory military service. They're committed to fighting back if you attack them, they just don't take sides in other people's disputes.

        • This statement has to be amended a bit. In 2002 Switzerland officially joined the UN, which technically ends their neutrality. They still try to remain as neutral as possible in practice but they can no longer be considered neutral.
          • The only sovereign state which is not a member of UN is Vatican City. Being a member of organization of which every other country is hardly signifies non-neutrality.

    • by siddesu (698447) on Sunday May 22, 2011 @10:10AM (#36208712)

      You could have read the TFA, it wasn't that long:

      The two papers reported Leuthard backed continuing to use current nuclear plants until the end of their lifespans, not building any new ones, and expanding alternative energy sources such as water power.

      • by Chelloveck (14643) on Sunday May 22, 2011 @10:33AM (#36208914) Homepage

        The two papers reported Leuthard backed continuing to use current nuclear plants until the end of their lifespans, not building any new ones, and expanding alternative energy sources such as water power.

        Ah. So in other words they don't have a plan yet. Unless you count "hoping really hard that something revolutionary will happen before our existing nuke plants wear out" to be a plan.

        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          by Zemran (3101)

          It is a mountain kingdom, lots of hydro potential and very few people. Why would they want the infinite expense and risks involved with current nuclear? They can have free power without difficulty and hydro does not stop at night. It is easy for those here to say that anyone that does not want nuclear must be a crank or green but that is just stupid. I worked for BNFL and am not green (maybe a crank). I just happen to look at the whole picture without rose coloured glasses.

          In Wales there are dams that

          • by boaworm (180781) <boaworm@gmail.com> on Sunday May 22, 2011 @11:31AM (#36209392) Homepage Journal

            It is a mountain kingdom, ...Why would they want the infinite expense and risks involved with current nuclear? They can have free power without difficulty and hydro does not stop at night.

            The chance of Swizerland being hit by a 9.0 quake followed by a large tzunami is ... shall we say slim? :-)

            And before anyone claims that hydroelectric plants are green, go have a look at one. Sure, the carbon footprint is small, but it completely destroys the local landscape and ecosystems.

            So if they are really going away from working nuke plans, hope they don't plan to buy their electricity from germany or eastern europe instead.

          • by DamonHD (794830)

            I don't think the word "infinite" means what you think it does... Maybe you mean "high" or "unknown"?

            Rgds

            Damon

          • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

            by gdshaw (1015745)

            The reactors I have worked with are not good but there is nothing you can do to stop a Magnox reactor. The British Magnox reactors are still running after their expected lifespan because no-one knows what to do with them. Trawsfynydd still consumes considerable amounts of electricity to keep it stable. The costs do not stop after the fifty years of lifespan.

            According to the Nuclear Decommissioning Authority website [nda.gov.uk]:

            All fuel has been removed from the reactors and decommissioning is well underway.

            Do you know something they don't?

            The costs go on and on for tens of thousands of years

            Only if you choose to treat the residue as waste as opposed to a valuable fuel source. Even then, the cost is minimal once it is cool enough to go into dry cask storage.

            • by nospam007 (722110) *

              "Even then, the cost is minimal once it is cool enough to go into dry cask storage."

              Yep, you just need to pay for security and armed guards for a couple of hundred thousand years, cheap enough.

            • by makomk (752139) on Sunday May 22, 2011 @12:49PM (#36210156) Journal

              All fuel has been removed from the reactors and decommissioning is well underway.

              The fuel may have been removed, but apparently the waste won't be safe to remove until 2065 [bbc.co.uk], and the buildings themselves aren't scheduled to be demolished and the site finally closed down until 2098 [sitestakeh...ups.org.uk]. (Partly because it'll take that long for the widespread low-level contamination of the ground to reach safe levels, by the looks of it.)

              Oh, and I'm not sure if we've managed to come up with a better way to dispose of nuclear waste than leaving them to rot in badly-maintained storage ponds at places like Sellafield yet...

              Only if you choose to treat the residue as waste as opposed to a valuable fuel source.

              The UK actually had one of the few nuclear reprocessing plants. They have a history of doing things like contaminating the sea and beaches nearby with large quantities of radioactive waste (in some cases deliberately and in others due to incompetence), not to mention stuff like falsifying testing data on the fuel they were selling to other governments. Fortunately they've since managed to get the UK government to offer them unlimited indemnity for any future accidents they might have, even ones caused by negligence.

        • by Pinky's Brain (1158667) on Sunday May 22, 2011 @11:59AM (#36209716)

          They could always just ask France to build extra plants and import the electricity, I doubt a national nuclear program with all the regulatory mess which comes with it is cheaper. With France's economy of scale and a waste management infrastructure within it's own borders it has comparative advantage for nuclear power generation.

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by Anonymous Coward

        So they are basically trying to create another Japan like incident, on purpose this time.

        Come 40 years from now when these plants are past their life expectancy, and desperately need updates to newer technology, instead they will remain falling apart and not replaced, since they clearly have no plan to move away to another form of power generation that can match their usage needs. (No water will not cut it)

        Then the unmaintained and failing hardware will do as all unmaintained hardware does and fail catastr

        • by JaredOfEuropa (526365) on Sunday May 22, 2011 @03:03PM (#36211182) Journal
          Exactly. This is the worst case scenario, whether you are in favour of nuclear power or against it: stopping all design and development of modern and much safer and cleaner nuclear plants (sure, not 100% safe nor 100% clean), whilst keeping the existing nukes running well past their designed lifetime... because the clean power source that was to replace them hasn't magically appeared, surprise, surprise.
      • by grumling (94709)

        Because damming up a river doesn't have any environmental impact, right?

        http://maps.google.com/maps?hl=en&q=maps.google.com+lake+mead&rlz=1B7GGHP_enUS428US428&um=1&ie=UTF-8&sa=N&tab=wl [google.com]

        Nothing like flooding an area the size of modern Las Vegas with water to be green!

        • by Mprx (82435)

          Hydroelectric power has killed far more people than nuclear ever has:
          http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Banqiao_Dam [wikipedia.org]

          This was a worse disaster than Chernobyl but hydroelectric power is "green" so people forget about it.

          • by Luckyo (1726890)

            Most people also forget that even if you don't count Banqiao Dam, hydro still has had more victims per power generated then nuclear.

            In fact all major power sources have, including wind and solar. http://nextbigfuture.com/2011/03/deaths-per-twh-by-energy-source.html [nextbigfuture.com] (quotes WHO sources peer reviewed study).

          • by Leebert (1694) *

            Don't forget about http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Vajont_Dam [wikipedia.org] , or even the safety issues of necessary-for-renewables pumped storage plants: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Taum_Sauk_Hydroelectric_Power_Station [wikipedia.org] (which was fortunately limited to a few injuries and no fatalities).

            Generating electricity is dangerous, and will be for the foreseeable future.

    • by ChienAndalu (1293930) on Sunday May 22, 2011 @10:24AM (#36208828)

      French nuclear power.

    • by quenda (644621)

      They will do just what the anti-nuclear Germans have done: buy electricity from countries like France. Just don't ask how they generated it.

      • by Xtravar (725372)

        I used to do this in Sim City 4. Put the nasty stuff in the neighboring cities and buy from them so that my prized city wouldn't be tarnished.

    • Captain Planet.

      Just put him on a hamster wheel and tell him to start running. And the best part. The cleaner the world gets, the stronger and faster he becomes.

      Although the one liners could get pretty old.

    • by camperslo (704715)

      Little windmills at both ends of flatulent bureucrats

  • Headline Misleading (Score:5, Informative)

    by Frosty Piss (770223) * on Sunday May 22, 2011 @10:11AM (#36208722)
    The Slashdot headline is (predictably?) not accurate. The Swiss *ARE NOT* ending nuclear power. Rather, there is a proposal to gradually exit nuclear power by not building any new plants. Realistically, even if such a proposal was approved by the current government, given the growing energy needs of society and the shrinking supply / rising cost / environmental issues associated with fossil fuels, I don't see this happening. The current technologies of renewable energy simply cannot support the world's energy needs.

    So what's it going to be? Continue with fossil fuels, or continue developing safer cleaner nuclear? Switzerland's five nuclear reactors generate about 40 percent of the country's electricity, and the needs will only grow. What can realistically replace that?
    • by Joce640k (829181)

      What can realistically replace that?

      This is the question the anti-nuke people never seem to answer, it's always just "something else".

      You can't expect to shut the country down on calm/cloudy days. Something has to take up the slack.

      • by h4rr4r (612664)

        Ever hear of energy storage?
        You can pump water uphill, you can use molten salt to hold heat for days, there are quite efficient large scale batteries, or even pumping air into caves. The reality is nuclear is probably cheaper than all that, and is far better than the next most likely solution which is coal.

        Making up Glen Beck-like bullshit like "You can't expect to shut the country down on calm/cloudy days." is as annoying and pointless as when he does it. There are great arguments for nuclear, adding talki

      • What can realistically replace that?

        This is the question the anti-nuke people never seem to answer, it's always just "something else".

        You can't expect to shut the country down on calm/cloudy days. Something has to take up the slack.

        And who could realistically try to replace oil (someone had this idea about hybrid cars, which is a transition stage), DDT (somebody did...), horse-trained carriages (I had this idea about a thing named "car")... do you really need the water at your throat to start changing your conservative views, right? Sheesh, fortunately there are people who try to make the world better, not just accept the status quo.

        They are proposing to stop building new plants, so they will have to find an alternative for an increas

    • by Xacid (560407)

      Sounds like how we're "gradually phasing out" nuclear power here in the states.

      Only instead of decommissioning we're just letting the old ones keep running...go figure.

      • by capnkr (1153623)
        Yeah, go figure... so instead of nuclear we are going down the path where we'll keep burning coal and oil, and lots of it - with all of its 'environmental fallout' - while the anti-nuke environmentalists and others keep making more babies, (re)producing even and ever more consumers of this nasty sort of electricity, and we'll stay dependent on foreign oil for their kids...

        ...instead of doing what we need to do for advancing technologies that are or can be much cleaner, more efficient, and safer, like micro [wikipedia.org]
        • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

          Or perhaps we should just address the root problem, which is too many people, for a planet this size, at our current efficiencies. If the effort that went into typical 'green' causes (anti-nuke, wind, anti-whaling, etc) were to be directed instead towards slowing down the human population explosion, maybe then we could hit equilibrium and sustainability.

          Hmm, US population growth is almost entirely a result of immigration (illegal and otherwise). We have almost the lowest population density of any industria

          • by DamonHD (794830)

            +1

          • by capnkr (1153623)
            Most glaringly, either you did not know, or you neglected to point out, that population growth is China is as slow as ours is because it is *controlled* by the state; the "one child policy" that has been in effect there since 1979. Would be that the rest of the world followed their lead in this issue, we would not be gutting our precious natural resources so quickly.

            There are so many people already that the world population is estimated to grow, despite what relatively low percentage points you might find
    • by Yvanhoe (564877)
      Given Switzerland's geography, they could go with a lot of hydro power (currently ~50%) and succeed, in my opinion with a higher risk of loss of human life (a lot more people died in hydro accident than nuclear accident), with more pollution, more destruction of ecosystems, but it could probably be done. It is however not doable in every country of the world.
    • by nedlohs (1335013)

      How is that not "ending". Only a moron would think they could stop using nuclear power overnight, so obviously deciding "to end use of nuclear power" can't mean anything but deciding to not use it at some point in the future, likely bu not building new plants so that when the existing ones reach their EOL you have "ended".

      And you do realise there is more than just fossil fuels and nuclear power generation, right? Right?

    • The current technologies of renewable energy simply cannot support the world's energy needs.

      Yeah, and even the feeblest attempts to develop new ones is obviously pointless and futile.. Maybe they can tap the power of hysteria. There's more than enough of that. Sake nukes are not beyond our reach. But mitigating the corruption in most big things just might be...

    • How's that, if you covered 2% of the uninhabitable portions of the Sahara with photovoltaic cells, it would supply 100% of the world's needs. Of course renewables are up to the challenge. And no I'm not saying that the Sahara should be caked in PV, although a company called DESERTEC are giving it a go.

      • And construct magical superconducting lines to the rest of the world? I mean, yes you should develop renewables as much as you can, but seriously, until we can have solar stations on a solar orbit, nuclear is a pretty good option for the heavy duty needs.

        Better than coal or gas, at least.

        • No, a HVDC mainline grid for Europe. They did that calculation and it does work with current technology. Not PV, but solarthermal, though. The DESERTEC people are quite serious.
      • by yodleboy (982200) on Sunday May 22, 2011 @11:55AM (#36209670)
        sadly, the same environmental crowd that demands an end to nuclear will stonewall that as well. Just saw a lovely article in Wired about the Ivanpah Solar Electric Generator in the Mojave. 5 1/2 square miles of mirrors. 5 1/2. guess what? the environmental crowd is suing to stop it on the grounds that those 5 1/2 square miles of sand are more important as habitat than a 60% increase in US solar generation. Yet they will no doubt be at the next anti-nuclear, anti-fossil fuel rally. What exactly are we supposed to use for power? Happy thoughts maybe?
  • Posted by 'mdsolar' (Score:5, Informative)

    by Rurik (113882) on Sunday May 22, 2011 @10:16AM (#36208768)

    So an anti-nuclear story posted by a user named 'mdsolar' with a blog running very anti-nuclear posts. He also is involved in a business that rents solar systems to homes (http://www.blogger.com/profile/14124764472206647347).

    Christ, Slashdot. Can you be a bit more opaque in posting biased stories?

    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by clang_jangle (975789)
      The Japanese situation has people like mdsolar doing the Chicken Little all over the web. In reality they should feel reassured because the worst has happened and it didn't mean the end of the world. Hell, it didn't even mean the end of one small set of islands. That's quite good news, isn't it?
      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        The Japanese situation has people like mdsolar doing the Chicken Little all over the web. In reality they should feel reassured because the worst has happened and it didn't mean the end of the world. Hell, it didn't even mean the end of one small set of islands. That's quite good news, isn't it?

        You miss one important detail - people like this WANT the worst to happen. They're hoping every night when they go to bed that it'll happen before morning, and looking forward to it every day when they wake up.

        Beca

      • Of myself and all others directly impacted by this event:

        FUCK YOU.
        • I apologize if what I said came off as insensitive, just trying to be objective. Ultimately, what happened in Japan should be an excellent learning experience for the engineers who design these facilities. I hope that can be said without people misunderstanding and freaking out, because in fact my heart goes out to those affected.
          • Just remember that a lot of people HAVE and WILL be impacted by this. This might be an academic debate for most of the world, but for a minority of millions, there are real consequences. I have had to hear various "professionals" at safe distances claim that there was no meltdown, no risk of radioactivity leakage, and continue to downplay the event as much as possible until confirmed facts of the contrary made it out. I have friends with small children who have decided to stay as a consequence, only to find
    • by Gordonjcp (186804)

      Funny thing, this guy is in Maryland - ever notice how all the solar power evangelists live really far south?

    • by Halo1 (136547) <jonas.maebe@NospAm.elis.ugent.be> on Sunday May 22, 2011 @10:24AM (#36208824) Homepage

      The link goes to Reuters. Who cares about the bias of the submitter? Doesn't pretty much every submitter only submit stories they feel should see wider exposure, and hence are biased about? It does work for me like that at least.

    • by vadim_t (324782) on Sunday May 22, 2011 @10:53AM (#36209074) Homepage

      You know, I'd be willing to bet that stories about Apple are mostly submitted by fans or people who hate the company, stories about games are mostly submitted by gamers, and stories about new versions of the Linux kernel mostly come from Linux users.

      In other words, people submit stores about subjects they care about, and are almost certainly biased in one way or another.

      So what's the big deal here?

    • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday May 22, 2011 @12:09PM (#36209838)

      He also is involved in a business that rents solar systems

      I recently heard about an entire country you can rent for $70,000/day, but now you can rent an entire solar system? How much does that cost?!

    • by hedwards (940851)

      No, but I do hear that they have ogres.

    • by siddesu (698447)

      You must have missed a lot of news -- the Japanese disaster happened not because "the worst happened", but because of a failure to do a proper design. There was an article on the BBC last week about the fact that practically all German reactors will not withstand a direct hit from an airplane, despite the nuclear industry telling us they would. In Eastern Europe, multiple NPPs have been operating with fuel not intended for their reactors for nearly a decade, apparently resulting in trouble that wasn't publi

  • by Kaz Kylheku (1484) on Sunday May 22, 2011 @10:28AM (#36208862) Homepage

    Why, an intricate and precise clock-work driven by a wind-up spring.

  • Power (Score:4, Insightful)

    by fermion (181285) on Sunday May 22, 2011 @10:42AM (#36208986) Homepage Journal
    The Japan situation shows that nuclear power is safe, but not every contingency can be planned for, therefore there is always a small risk. The problem is one of managing risk and expectation. The nuclear industry, like all industries, wish to have minimum external burdens, wish to externalize as much costs as possible to the general public, so they like anyone else will lie to gain support. This will in the long run is always disastrous, but enough profits are made in the short run to make no difference to the private interests.

    The big thing with energy is the externalization of costs to the general public, both real and opportunity. It is not really a conservative of liberal thing. When the BP oil well exploded in the Gulf or Mexico, conservatives all along the conservative Gulf Coast raised hell about the externalization of costs. Conservative Florida threw a fit even though conservative support approving drilling in the Gulf with minimal regulations. The coal industry is allowed to destroy public owned resources the could be better monetized by future generation with no recompense to future generations. And the nuclear industry is allowed to irradiate resources and create waste without a management plan. The Swiss reprocesses and stores the larger quantity, but less radioactive waste. Whether this faustian bargain will be acceptable in the long term is yet to be seen. What is true is that unlike out previous energy experiments in the industrial revolution will not be so easy to reverse. The benefit of nuclear energy is that most of the externalization is limited to the nation-state that benefits from the energy, unlike other sources in which the externalization is wolrd wide.

    On a total cost basis other energy sources are viable. Switzerland has good solar irradiation potential. It also has mountains. During the day excess solar energy can be used to pump water up the mountain into a reservoir, and then run through a hydroelectric generator when needed. The same is true for wind. All without externalazing costs to future generations.

    • by Animats (122034)

      Switzerland has good solar irradiation potential.

      Er, no.

      It also has mountains.

      Yes. About half of Switzerland's power comes from hydroelectric plants. But the good sites are already developed. [swissworld.org] This is a general problem with hydroelectric power. For large power dams, "all the good sites were gone by 1940". The ideal hydroelectric site was Hoover Dam - narrow gorge to dam, big level drop, large unpopulated desert basin area. Almost every other location is worse.

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by slyborg (524607)

      >safe
      "You keep using this word...I do not think it means what you think it means..."

  • by cryfreedomlove (929828) on Sunday May 22, 2011 @10:56AM (#36209096)
    Those are few and far between, even today. The Soviet Union lied to their own people about Cherynobyl. The Japanese government withheld messy truth until they were outed by foreign press.

    I believe nukes can be safe, but most governments are not trustworthy enough to make that happen.
    • by RCC42 (1457439)

      Better untrustworthy governments than irresponsible and rapacious corporations.

  • This decision may be unbelievably shortsighted because, the risks and waste notwithstanding, nuclear power generation is still the most carbon-friendly method. Coal and natural gas fired plants produce tons of greenhouse gases. It is almost typical of politicians to engage in knee-jerk reactions without thinking of the potential socio-economic uphieval by large changes. I kind of had higher hopes for the Swiss government being more rational than ours in the U.S. but that just got thrown out the door. A bett
  • by omb (759389) on Sunday May 22, 2011 @12:37PM (#36210082)
    Bundesr&#228;tin Doris Leuthard has no power above and beyond her six colleagues to make this decision, as you might expect this will be a very carefully considered decision and is unlikey to hold, unless other credible energy sources are found. Shale gas is unlikely due tho the Geology.

    Hydroelectric, geothermal and new nuclear (Thorium) are in the mix.

    The Swiss, unlike the Germans are not known for emotionalism, lack of planning or economic suicide.

    The unofficial national motto is "Do it right the first time".

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