Catch up on stories from the past week (and beyond) at the Slashdot story archive

 



Forgot your password?
typodupeerror
Japan Power

Japan Plans to Restart Most of Their Nuclear Reactors 255

Posted by Unknown Lamer
from the thank-you-for-saving-the-biosphere dept.
pigrabbitbear writes "Areva, the French nuclear fuel company, helps supply Japan with a lot of its juice. And Areva's chief executive says that Japan is going to restart up to six reactors by the end of the year. Eventually, it's going to power up at least two thirds of them. Japan's prime minister Shinzo Abe has been a little cagey, but he recently told the press that yes, despite the upcoming March 11th anniversary of the Fukushima crisis, the nuke plants are coming back online." Supposedly, they are overhauling their nuclear regulatory agencies to fix the massive failure and regulatory capture that led to Fukushima being run unsafely. They are also not going to restart reactors that are on active fault lines; this includes the largest reactor complex in the world. Vaguely related, the Vogtle plant expansion in the U.S. is running a bit over budget, with folks like the Sierra Club seizing the chance to call for an end to construction (unlikely, since Georgia Power says it'd cost customers more, even pretending natural gas is infinite and will always be cheap, to halt construction in favor of any other kind of power plant), and legislators aiming to 'protect' customers from cost overruns. However, it looks like unless action is taken the nuclear renaissance is already dead due to the inherent short-sightedness of the "free market."
This discussion has been archived. No new comments can be posted.

Japan Plans to Restart Most of Their Nuclear Reactors

Comments Filter:
  • Nuclear Bias (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Sigvatr (1207234) on Monday March 04, 2013 @06:51PM (#43074195)
    I feel that there is a lot of stigma against nuclear energy these days (particularly here on Slashdot), and for good reason. However, I don't often see people making a case FOR nuclear power, because there are definitely many good reasons to defend its use. Is this because people are afraid of speaking out, or because nuclear power really is that bad?
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by symbolset (646467) *
      Below us here will now follow several hundred comments, most lauding nuclear power and bashing all other forms of energy as more toxic, costly and dangerous. All of them pretending there is no geothermal. It happens every time.
      • Re:Nuclear Bias (Score:5, Informative)

        by hairyfish (1653411) on Monday March 04, 2013 @07:13PM (#43074367)
        See you lost any credibility once you said "all of them". I live in NZ where we have some geothermal plants. It works here because our country is effectively one long ridge of volcanos. I'm not so sure that applies to the rest of the world.
        • Re:Nuclear Bias (Score:5, Interesting)

          by Anonymous Coward on Monday March 04, 2013 @07:22PM (#43074437)

          Yep, this. Somebody asked this same question one time when I was visiting the local US Department of Energy site, and the answer they gave was basically "All of the cost-effective geothermal and hydroelectric locations have already been developed." Just as you would expect.

          • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

            by cheesybagel (670288)

            Actually there are other ways like using Hot Dry Rock Geothermal where you drill a borehole deep enough [wikipedia.org] that it gets hot enough to boil water which you inject into the hole. The problem is it induces low intensity earthquakes.

            • by mug funky (910186)

              AFAIK the main problem is finding a place geologically stable enough that your very very long borehole will stay functional.

              hmm... we could always use an old frack-hole and the broken-up shale could be a heat-exchanger?

            • by Evtim (1022085)

              Borehole?! Are you up for worm-rape?

          • by symbolset (646467) *
            This one is the US [google.org]. Of course we're talking about Japan [yomiuri.co.jp] which has ample geothermal resources.
        • by mug funky (910186)

          i was always struck by how damn similar Japan and NZ are geographically...

      • In my state, there is no geothermal capability, or hydro. However, we have a very large nuclear power plant that produces energy a lot cheaper and more efficient than wind and solar.

        • by AmiMoJo (196126) *

          Which state? Be specific so we can evaluate your claim, otherwise we will have to assume you pulled it out of your arse.

          As it happens both Japan and my own country (UK) have enough renewable resources to cover all our needs if fully developed. Scotland in particular is on target to be 100% renewable by 2020 (200% capacity, half renewable and the excess exported for a profit).

      • Except that, Geothermal plants release toxic gas into the atmosphere, including large amounts of CO2. Not nearly as much as coal... but then, Nuclear power doesn't release any CO2 at all. Not to mention geothermal has conclusively proven to cause earthquakes and at least 1 plant had to be shut down after it triggered tens of thousands of earthquakes over the first few days of operation.

      • Re:Nuclear Bias (Score:5, Insightful)

        by TheTurtlesMoves (1442727) on Tuesday March 05, 2013 @03:32AM (#43076675)
        You mite want to read this [withouthotair.com]. The section on geothermal is accurate enough for our use.

        Yes there is geothermal, but if you run the numbers (I have) its easy to see it really is only a very regional solution and not a very sustainable one at that. In NZ as posted below uses geothermal. But the outputs had to be reduced because it was reducing the entire area activity. Sooner or later the rock lower down cools down. Same thing for the few plants in the US. Closed loop systems have their own issues. In particular you get a few decades before that cubic kilometer has cooled down.

        Seriously it gets tiresome that so many *know* the solution but then won't do even the most basic analysis on that claimed solution.

        Can nuclear work for a while (100s even 1000s of years)? Yes. Can we do it safely?That is a much harder question to answer. Technically i am somewhat pro nuclear. However that is not the same as saying i trust the companies or governments or even the IAEA for that matter to do nuclear safe. And we still are not dealing with the waste we already have.
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by thesupraman (179040)

      It's mainly because people were so convinced by the cold war 'nuclear terror' campaigns run by the west (and probably the other side also) that they cannot see past that.

      Hence we get large amounts of patently false 'common knowledge' ingrained in peoples minds when they evaluate anything to do with the words nuclear or radiation.

      The biggest problem we should be worried about is that old, out of date, and less safe (than modern) plants will be kept active WAY past their best before dates because so much effo

      • Re:Nuclear Bias (Score:5, Insightful)

        by TubeSteak (669689) on Monday March 04, 2013 @07:32PM (#43074505) Journal

        The biggest problem we should be worried about is that old, out of date, and less safe (than modern) plants will be kept active WAY past their best before dates because so much effort has gone in to making it basically impossible to even design, let al9ong build next generation plants that there is little choice.

        TFA

        Nor is there a serious case to be made that interest in new reactors has been suppressed by decades of overregulation. The candidates for the Nuclear Regulatory Commission since 1980 have almost all been subject to what amounts to a nuclear industry veto.4 In many cases, they have had outright industry endorsement. The idea that these industry-vetted commissioners have overseen 30 years of excessive regulation doesnâ(TM)t pass the straight-face test.

        I'm not disputing that NIMBY and environmental regulations have retarded nuclear growth, but the real reason we're still running decades old power plants waaaaaaaay past their end-of-life date is regulatory capture.

        The nuclear industry says "don't worry, we can run a 40 year old plant safely" and the regulators say "okay, we believe you"
        This is despite every indication that the plants are corroding in place and the operators are doing as little maintanence as possible.

        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          by thesupraman (179040)

          You need to think it a little deeper.

          The reason they are desperately trying to stretch out the life of the old plants is because the kneejerkers/dumb greens (yes, there are some clued up ones), and NIMBYs have made it next to impossible, and definitely not affordable, to build any new ones, in fact even to improve the existing ones..

          New power plants are much cheaper to run, lower risk, lower cost of operating materials, lower waste, etc - but are simply unbuildable under the wests anti-everything regime due

          • Re:Nuclear Bias (Score:5, Insightful)

            by thegarbz (1787294) on Tuesday March 05, 2013 @01:49AM (#43076359)

            You need to think it a little deeper.

            The reason they are desperately trying to stretch out the life of the old plants is because the kneejerkers/dumb greens (yes, there are some clued up ones), and NIMBYs have made it next to impossible, and definitely not affordable, to build any new ones, in fact even to improve the existing ones..

            Indeed this is exactly what we saw in Australia despite the fact that not upgrading our reactor was actually worse for people's health. By that I mean the HIFAR medical research reactor which was used to manufacture isotopes was nearing end of life. Hell it neared end of life years ago and the Greens were dead set against it's replacement. It got a replacement reactor OPAL in 2006 after long draw out political battles, and HIFAR was shutdown and is in the process of being demolished.

            Funny enough when OPAL had issues in 2007 which required it's temporary shutdown the country went mental not due to a reactor having problems but do to a sudden shortage of medical isotopes and difficulty importing them from elsewhere in the world. Despite this crisis, and despite the fact the reactor is effectively brand new the Greens still have shutting down OPAL as one of the primary goals of the party.

            The world is mad.

          • You need to think it a little deeper.

            The reason they are desperately trying to stretch out the life of the old plants is because

            It's because a completed plant is a sunk cost investment. The more they stretch out the life of the plant, the more profit they make, simply put.

          • Re:Nuclear Bias (Score:4, Informative)

            by AmiMoJo (196126) * <[ten.3dlrow] [ta] [ojom]> on Tuesday March 05, 2013 @03:42AM (#43076721) Homepage

            It isn't regulation or fear that is preventing the building of new reactor designs, it is economics. Nuclear is heavily subsidised and governments are looking to reduce costs, plus companies want to make safe investments with will defined ROIs instead of building theoretically better but unproven (on a commercial scale) designs.

            The simple fact is that the current old designs meet the regulatory requirements and are known quantities. New designs could run into issues that end up costing a lot, or even fail entirely. History is littered with reactor designs that looked good on paper but didn't work very well in practice (we build a lot of them in the UK).

            You could argue that the government needs to step in and push new technology forwards, but since saving energy is cheaper and makes them more popular by delivering improvements directly to people's homes that isn't going to happen.

          • by olau (314197)

            New power plants are much cheaper to run, lower risk, lower cost of operating materials, lower waste, etc - but are simply unbuildable under the wests anti-everything regime due to the wonders of local/global pressure groups making regulators tie it up in so much red tape..

            I'm not particularly against nuclear power plants (as long as I don't get to live near one) but you're downplaying capital costs. Operating costs etc. are irrelevant if the initial capital costs are too high. It's the same with fusion power - so the energy source may be cheap but unless the actual reactor ends up being cheaper to build than a fission reactor, are we really going to see any commercial fusion plants? No.

            What you call stupidity is really economics 101. Old power plants have been paid of many y

        • Re: (Score:2, Funny)

          by bill_mcgonigle (4333) *

          The nuclear industry says "don't worry, we can run a 40 year old plant safely" and the regulators say "okay, we believe you"

          And the startup that wants to build integral fast reactors and buy up the existing nuclear waste to use as fuel gets denied permits because the entrenched interests would suffer.

          We'll get them eventually - I'm just not sure if we'll be buying them from China or India.

      • Re:Nuclear Bias (Score:4, Insightful)

        by cheesybagel (670288) on Monday March 04, 2013 @07:33PM (#43074521)

        The Japanese will restart their nuclear reactors. Their economy is not viable otherwise. Their economic recovery crashed more because of the plant shutdown and the energy costs of importing coal than the earthquake damage itself. Japan needs nuclear power. Too many people and too few alternative resources for a country with heavy industry. The Chinese are in full swing. They have like one of each leading edge nuclear power plant design either in operation or under construction and they are ramping up training so they can build more of them. Air pollution in China is a big problem and nuclear power in coastal cities is seen as a way to ameliorate the problem. The heavy industry in the interior of the nation will likely continue using cheap coal.

        • by ae1294 (1547521)

          I'm surprised China didn't offer to run some power lines over to Japan "free of charge" after all the plants got shut down... Someone in china dropped the ball...

          • by macshit (157376)

            Do you think Japan would ever risk becoming reliant on China for any significant amount of their energy supply, at least while China has its current political system?

            It'd be neat as an optional "top up" source of power, but it seems a non-starter for anything more, at least in the short/medium term. For now, Japan's gotta figure something out on their own.

          • by Mashiki (184564)

            I'm surprised China didn't offer to run some power lines over to Japan "free of charge" after all the plants got shut down... Someone in china dropped the ball...

            Won't happen, and Japan would refuse outright. This is the same China that's belligerently been funneling a proxy war and trying to take over and entire chain of islands that are controlled by the philippines, and and another set that are controlled by japan. Not forgetting that their(china) favorite tactic in all of this is to "ship" in people and claim their neutral supporters trying to claim these islands for the motherland.

            Oh and if you're wondering why? It's because around, in, near, and under thos

        • The markedly weaker yen(which has dropped about 20% against the dollar so far this year) is probably also playing into the decision. Most commodities are still priced in dollars meaning that the cost to the consumer, in yen, is increasing quite rapidly thus increasing the political pressure to bring energy costs down. The simplest way to do that is to restart the nuke plants....
          • by AK Marc (707885)
            That'll help the Japanese economy, people might start buying Japanese stuff more if it was all 20% less.
        • by mug funky (910186)

          they also don't much care for Japan, which happens to be down-wind from a lot of China's coast...

        • Re:Nuclear Bias (Score:4, Insightful)

          by AmiMoJo (196126) * <[ten.3dlrow] [ta] [ojom]> on Tuesday March 05, 2013 @06:07AM (#43077235) Homepage

          Actually they have more or less recovered from the earthquake/tsunami. There is still a big drain from the Fukushima clean-up and the other economic problems like the Yen being too strong for about the past four years, but it turns out they really are not that dependent on nuclear power after all.

      • Yes, you might be partially correct - however - the world is as it is. You can't fast track reactors in the US. The industry hasn't figured out how to make them cheaper, even with the Federal government covering virtually all of the insurance costs.

        So, in a perfect world, run by engineers with a good budget, instead of politicians with not enough money to go around, you could have safe(r) nuclear power. We shall never live in that cornicopian intellectual paradise so we have a mess. In this mess that is

      • Re:Nuclear Bias (Score:5, Interesting)

        by nbauman (624611) on Monday March 04, 2013 @08:19PM (#43074789) Homepage Journal

        I did find the uninformed anti-nuclear rhetoric annoying (like any uninformed rhetoric), but the pro-nuclear side suffered from technological hubris.

        A nuclear reactor offers the promise of unlimited, cheap, carbon-free energy. OTOH, there is a small risk of a very big catastrophe, Are great benefits worth great risks? Hard to say. We now have Chernobyl as one real-world worst-case scenario.

        Three Mile Island wasn't reassuring either. The reason why it blew, you may recall, is that a relief valve, made by Dresser, failed. It had a classic design flaw, a piston diameter that was too large for its length, like a wide window that gets wedged into the frame when you try to open it. This valve had been tested before -- and failed, about 2% of the time. Scientific American, itself a nuclear power advocate, had a good article about this.

        Dresser for its own part was defending itself by taking out full-page newspaper ads, and denouncing anti-nuclear activists as Communists. Edward Teller said that Ralph Nader opposed nuclear power because he was an Arab, and he wanted the U.S. to be dependent on Arab oil.

        I would like to live in a country where we make technical decisions on the basis of the facts and the analysis of experts. Unfortunately I live in a country where we make technical decisions (and any decisions) on the basis of who can muster the strongest political power and lobbying (which usually translates into, who has the most money to spend on it). I really wish the nuclear industry had been run by people who stuck to the facts and tried to resolve their disagreements with their critics with reason, rather than steamroller them with negative PR campaigns and campaign contributions.

        I believe nuclear power could have worked, and might someday. One of the problems is that we seized on essentially one design, a scaled-up version of the one used on nuclear submarines. There were other designs that were inherently safer. It seems that American capitalism needs the government to do its R&D for it.

        I always favored a free-market solution: The Price-Anderson Act absolved the nuclear industry of liability for any accident, and instead had the government step in, to compensate everyone for the damage (up to $120 million, which wouldn't go too far in Chernobyl). My solution: Repeal the Price-Anderson Act, and let the nuclear power industry get its liability insurance on the free market like everyone else. If they're so safe, let them convince the insurance industry. It seems that American capitalism always needs a government handout.

        • Re:Nuclear Bias (Score:4, Informative)

          by thesupraman (179040) on Monday March 04, 2013 @10:04PM (#43075299)

          "A nuclear reactor offers the promise of unlimited, cheap, carbon-free energy. OTOH, there is a small risk of a very big catastrophe, Are great benefits worth great risks? Hard to say. We now have Chernobyl as one real-world worst-case scenario."

          Chernobyl was not an accident, you understand? the reactor was a terrible design intentionally being pushed way outside design specs for no better reason that to see what happened... it is not a real-world worst-case scenario for western reactors, let alone any modern designs.

          "Three Mile Island wasn't reassuring either. The reason why it blew, you may recall, is that a relief valve, made by Dresser, failed. It had a classic design flaw, a piston diameter that was too large for its length, like a wide window that gets wedged into the frame when you try to open it. This valve had been tested before -- and failed, about 2% of the time. Scientific American, itself a nuclear power advocate, had a good article about this"

          TMI did not 'blow', it had an internal failure resulting in a shutdown, and a very small (barely detectible) amount of released radiation. You do realise that a coal power station would release more radioactive material in a few minutes of operation than TMI did, right? Not to mention the fact that again, it was an ancient design that needed specific human operator control, and thats why it had an internal meltdown, the operators stuffed up (badly) after the valve failed.

          "I always favored a free-market solution: The Price-Anderson Act absolved the nuclear industry of liability for any accident, and instead had the government step in, to compensate everyone for the damage (up to $120 million, which wouldn't go too far in Chernobyl). My solution: Repeal the Price-Anderson Act, and let the nuclear power industry get its liability insurance on the free market like everyone else. If they're so safe, let them convince the insurance industry. It seems that American capitalism always needs a government handout."

          I suspect you dont know what the NRC is, and dont understand how the global nuclear industry is stricly controlled by it, and therefore by proxy the USA and its government, do you? there is NO free market in the nuclear industry, it is specifically and strictly controlled by one governing body. this is part of what has held it back of course. the fact that reactors in America appear to be privately owned it really just more smoke and mirrors.

          • Re:Nuclear Bias (Score:4, Insightful)

            by AmiMoJo (196126) * <[ten.3dlrow] [ta] [ojom]> on Tuesday March 05, 2013 @07:38AM (#43077575) Homepage

            How did this shit get modded up? Oh wait, it's Slashdot.

            Chernobyl was not an accident, you understand? the reactor was a terrible design intentionally being pushed way outside design specs for no better reason that to see what happened

            They were doing an experiment to try to improve safety after identifying a potentially serious risk in the emergency cooling system. The experiment accidentally went wrong.

            You do realise that a coal power station would release more radioactive material in a few minutes of operation than TMI did, right?

            Not bad, only an order of magnitude out.

            there is NO free market in the nuclear industry, it is specifically and strictly controlled by one governing body.

            That would explain why when TEPCO was told its plant was unsafe and should be upgraded immediately they ignored it and did nothing.

            • The original article was a total troll anyway:

              However, it looks like unless action is taken the nuclear renaissance is already dead due to the inherent short-sightedness of the "free market."

              Reality check: the inherent robustness of the free market would prevent any "nuclear renaissance" in the absence of government interference, because nuke plants aren't economically viable in a free and fair market.

              The rest of the world could have working LENR reactors or sustainable biofuels and Internet nuke shills wo

        • by thegarbz (1787294)

          The reason why it blew, you may recall, is that a relief valve, made by Dresser, failed.

          Actually the reason why it blew was unexpected and unmonitored flow through a relief valve. The PORV defaulting was only a small part of the crisis model and it operating as expected is only one of a long list of things that could have been done to prevent this disaster.

          This is partially to do with history. The words "process safety" didn't appear in dictionaries of past, whereas these days they are amongst the biggest departments in any process plant. Any HAZard and OPerability study would have identified

      • by Evtim (1022085)

        It's mainly because people were so convinced by the cold war 'nuclear terror' campaigns run by the west (and probably the other side also) that they cannot see past that.

        No, the other side did not run a scare campaign against nuclear power. On the contrary - the "peaceful atom" was hailed as one of the key technologies to achieve the Communist ideal, which in its purest form means the basic necessities of life are granted by birthright to everyone. In fact the sci-fi dream of many. I do not know a single person from my generation and my country that is afraid of nuclear energy.

    • There is a bias against nuclear power everywhere, because it is scary in the sense that a disaster, at least locally is always extremely grave. On the other hand, there is simply no choice. Nuclear power will be increasingly used because there is simply no alternative. So even for those who dislike the idea it is better to accept it and work to make it safer than to resist the inevitable.
      • On the other hand, there is simply no choice. Nuclear power will be increasingly used because there is simply no alternative.

        Not if you're a company that wants to charge a lot of money for power...

        Poland, the Czech Republic and Switzerland all point the finger at Germany for what they claim are uncontrolled surges in renewables, which are destabilizing their grids. In addition they contend that Germany’s behaviour is also reducing the profitability of conventional power firms.

        The Institute recently published “Impacts of Germany’s nuclear phase-out on electricity imports and exports” (PDF), a 99-page study that discusses not only German power flows with its eastern neighbors, but also with its neighbors to the west.

        This study comes at a time when Poland and the Czech Republic are both openly complaining about Germany using their grids to transport renewable power from northern Germany to southern Germany – because the German grid is allegedly overloaded.

        Meanwhile, Switzerland recently argued that it’s conventional power firms were not able to generate as much power as they should because the Swiss grid is also sometimes filled up with German renewable power.

        The study also examines why the Netherland has been less vocal, despite the Dutch grid being flooded with inexpensive renewable power, which has offset electricity production from natural gas turbines in the country.

        http://www.powerengineeringint.com/articles/2013/02/Study-assesses-Germanys-energy-policy-impact-on-angry-neighbours.html [powerengineeringint.com]

        • by AmiMoJo (196126) *

          Sounds like some power companies are looking for an excuse to give to their shareholders and a reason to block renewables since they missed the boat on the them and want to keep their existing business models alive.

          e study also examines why the Netherland has been less vocal, despite the Dutch grid being flooded with inexpensive renewable power, which has offset electricity production from natural gas turbines in the country.

          I don't think they understand the geography of Europe or how electricity works. You can't "flood" the grid, the flow of electricity is regulated by load. It isn't like a water pipe, you can't force more into it.

          Perhaps they mean that the energy market was flooded with cheap renewable energy, whic

    • "I feel that there is a lot of stigma against nuclear energy these days"

      No, we're against the stupidity of building a nuclear reactor over where two tectonic plates [olehnielsen.dk] rub up against one another.
      • by AK Marc (707885)
        And doing so with a design and layout that guarantees a meltdown in case of a flood. The water at a high level would flood the generator and fuel, and there would not be enough time to shutdown the reactors. Either build the generators to resist floods, or build passively cooled reactors. You can run a generator underwater if it's designed for it and the intake is run down from above the water level. And you can design reactors to run cooling based off waste heat until it's safe. But no, they put an un
  • by Joe_Dragon (2206452) on Monday March 04, 2013 @06:52PM (#43074205)

    no more homer simpsons and cut cutting MR burns

  • Bad Summary (Score:5, Insightful)

    by ohnocitizen (1951674) on Monday March 04, 2013 @07:04PM (#43074299)
    This is becoming a Slashdot hallmark. The summary contradicts the article.

    the nuclear renaissance is already dead due to the inherent short-sightedness of the "free market."

    From the article linked in that very sentence:

    Wall Street was already leery of the historically high costs of nuclear power. An abundance of natural gas, lower energy demand induced by the 2008 recession, increased energy-efficiency measures, nuclear’s rising cost estimates, and the accident at the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Station further diminished prospects for private investment in new US nuclear plants.

    Avoiding nuclear power because of (higher investment cost + greater risk of liability + less demand) does not sound like shortsightedness. It sounds like a wise move.

    • by CncRobot (2849261)

      You should know by now, every move by the "free market" is evil and destructive to the middle class. Don't go confusing the issue with facts, those aren't welcome in a discussion that may turn political.

      • by ArsonSmith (13997)

        Actually the free market is destructive to the poor. If we had more free market there would be far fewer poor people around to vote.

    • by thegarbz (1787294)

      The high investment costs and demand are not the work of the "free market". They are the work of vocal activists and government red-tape.

      It's interesting to see nuclear being branded as too expensive these days. When it was first introduced it's price was one of it's most desirable features. The design and materials haven't changed much, so the only answer left can be external requirements like insurance and regulatory compliance.

      The free market really is shortsighted.

  • Foolspeak (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward

    The free market is not inherently short-sighted. Every day people plant trees, for profit, without government force, such that they can be harvested 100 years from now. The asset will increase in value constantly, it is not necessary for any one investor to wait 100 years to get their payout.

    Amazon's profits have NEVER been paid to investors (since going public, and probably before I just don't know that for sure). Not one penny. They have never paid a dividend. Nor has Google, nor many, many, many quickly

    • Re:Foolspeak (Score:5, Insightful)

      by TopSpin (753) on Monday March 04, 2013 @08:13PM (#43074745) Journal

      The free market, when and to the extent it is allowed to exist is EXTREMELY far-sighted.

      The summary is a troll. Attributing the 'free market' to nuclear power indicates either ignorance or deceit and we're left to ponder which is worse.

      Nuclear reactors represent astonishing amounts of wealth and coordination. It is a hallmark of advanced nations that such things are created. For a reactor to exist in the US it must have the blessing of all levels of government. Financing is often backed by one or more government entities. Federal and state governments must actively regulate it. First responders at each level are prepared for emergencies. Rate payers are involved in voting on proposals prior to construction and regulating on-going rates. The timeline (in contemporary Western nations and certain Asian nations) is at least a decade for construction and licensing is a matter of fractions of a century. People are sourced from rarified cohorts such as military navel reactor operators.

      In the end the actual operator is a small and even negligible part of the equation. Invoking the 'free market' mantra when dealing with the troubles of nuclear power is a cop out.

    • I'd like think that what you're saying is true, that the insane focus on quarterly earnings is due to government regulations, because that would make it (relatively) easy to fix.

      I can even see how it might be true.

      But I'd love to see some evidence that this is the case. Please!
  • by bobbied (2522392) on Monday March 04, 2013 @07:18PM (#43074411)

    Although natural gas is now very cheap, you would still have to import scads of it to generate electrical power enough to supply what Japan lost when it shut down the atomic energy industry. In addition, you would need to build the generation capacity to replace the nuclear power plants. Therefore, I believe that the restarting of many nuclear power plants is necessary.

    Nuclear is not any more dangerous than much of the alternatives out there so this is NOT a bad thing. It's the market providing electrical power in the most cost efficient and timely manor possible, in a country that needs cheap and abundant power to recover. Hopefully they have fixed any systemic issues in their government oversight program and can avoid future issues, but these kinds of issues are not about nuclear power, but effective government.

    Good for Japan! Now lets start building some safer plants and really do this right..

    • Nuclear is not any more dangerous than much of the alternatives out there so this is NOT a bad thing. It's the market providing electrical power in the most cost efficient and timely manor possible, in a country that needs cheap and abundant power to recover.

      Whether or not it is dangerous depends on many things including whether you build nuclear powerplants in tsunami prone areas and on top of major earthquake faultlines... both of which the Japanes have done. With all due respect to Japan's need for cheap and abundant energy I think critics of nuclear power do have a point if Japan's neighbors have to worry about radioactive fallout everytime that country is hit by an earthquake or a tsunami. I am not trying to bash the Japanese, there are serious issues with

  • by John Hasler (414242) on Monday March 04, 2013 @07:33PM (#43074513) Homepage

    Horseshit. There has never been anything remotely resembling a free market associated with nuclear power. As for shortsightedness it is hard to imagine anything more shortsighted then the way governments have reacted to nuclear accidents.

    • Exactly. There are leagues of politicians and activists who are going out of their way to prevent nuclear power from being affordable so that it doesn't happen, which is exactly what they want. This is much more of the government being short sighted.

      I think the editor just has an axe to grind with capitalism. Granted its not perfect, but neither is democracy. However both have historically worked better than the alternatives.

      In any case, that's no reason to throw out you're supposed objectivity. This is exa

    • by drinkypoo (153816)

      As for shortsightedness it is hard to imagine anything more shortsighted then the way governments have reacted to nuclear accidents.

      How about the way governments have handled regulation of nuclear power and waste?

  • "Supposedly, they are overhauling their nuclear regulatory agencies to fix the massive failure and regulatory capture that led to Fukushima being run unsafely"

    Where do you source your 'facts'. Fukushima was never run unsafely. Fukushima was built in a known earthquake zone. Fukushima experienced an earthquake and flooding from a tsunami leading to a failure of the emergency generators which led to coolant failure which led to reactor mentdown. No amount of 'regulatory capture' could have prevented this.
    • by miletus (552448)
      Perhaps regulatory capture would have required that the last line of defense against a meltdown, the backup diesel generators, should not have been in the basement of a plant located in a tsunami zone?
      • by hawguy (1600213) on Monday March 04, 2013 @09:04PM (#43075055)

        Perhaps regulatory capture would have required that the last line of defense against a meltdown, the backup diesel generators, should not have been in the basement of a plant located in a tsunami zone?

        The earthquake exceeded the design limits for the plant - if they put the generators on towers or on the tops of buildings, they may have crashed to the ground when the quake hit. There's no guarantee that moving the generators higher would have made things better. In retrospect it's not hard to come up with a design that perfectly addresses all of the issues from the last disaster, the hard part is coming up with a design that addresses all of the issues of the next, unknown disaster.

        • by rubycodez (864176)

          utter nonsense, the gensets at a nuke plant are huge and anchored to structural concrete, they aren't going to shake loose and fall off. are you imagining some pull-start unit on a cart for your house?

          • by hawguy (1600213)

            utter nonsense, the gensets at a nuke plant are huge and anchored to structural concrete, they aren't going to shake loose and fall off. are you imagining some pull-start unit on a cart for your house?

            No, I'm picturing a 30 ton genset sitting on top of a structure designed to withstand a magnitude 7.9 quake getting hit with more ground movement than it was designed for when a 9.0 quake hits offshore, resulting in support structure failure.

        • Perhaps regulatory capture would have required that the last line of defense against a meltdown, the backup diesel generators, should not have been in the basement of a plant located in a tsunami zone?

          The earthquake exceeded the design limits for the plant - if they put the generators on towers or on the tops of buildings, they may have crashed to the ground when the quake hit. There's no guarantee that moving the generators higher would have made things better. In retrospect it's not hard to come up with a design that perfectly addresses all of the issues from the last disaster, the hard part is coming up with a design that addresses all of the issues of the next, unknown disaster.

          They built that plant by the sea, in a country well known for tsunami disasters and made assumptions on how big tsunamis can get and where they can happen. Building the plant farther inland on higher ground would have at least left them with only the earthquakes to worry about, not both quakes and tsunamis.

        • by AK Marc (707885)
          generators where they were wasn't an issue. Sealing them to work underwater and having intake and exhaust 60 feet in the air is easy. I've seen more done for under $10,000. It's a silly disaster when a small amount of remedial work would have prevented it.
    • by drinkypoo (153816)

      Where do you source your 'facts'. Fukushima was never run unsafely. Fukushima was built in a known earthquake zone.

      Every second that Fukushima was running was unsafe, because of where it was built; in a known tsunami zone, below ancient markers still standing explaining just what a bad idea it was.

      No amount of 'regulatory capture' could have prevented this.

      Preventing the US government from forcing Japan to place the reactors there would have prevented this... whoops

      • Alternatively, decommissioning that reactor and replacing it with a more modern intrinsically safe design. The fundamental issue remained that the reactor needed active cooling to be safely shutdown.

        Of course there's also other things: for example, designing the generators so they were hermetically sealed against water, and could have air intakes deployed to an arbitrary height for example. There wouldn't have been a problem then, since the water inundation wouldn't have stopped them from being powered up.

        • by drinkypoo (153816)

          This what worries me about nuclear power. Ever since I was a kid it was "nuclear this" and "clean energy that" but as it is actually implemented in this country we have a bunch of shitty plants just like the ones in Fukushima which are situated on flood plains, near old fault lines that are supposed to be big when they finally go one day, and with spent fuel lying around waiting to become someone else's problem. I really want limitless cheap energy, but that's not how it's working out, is it?

  • I'm surprised no one seems to have mentioned this, but we ran a very safe (for the time) molten-salt reactor [energyfromthorium.com], AKA the LFTR (liquid fluoride thorium reactor). Later, total decommisioning was found to be an issue, but we've done what scientists and engineers do: find solutions. From Wiki: "Much of the high cost was caused by the unpleasant surprise of fluorine and uranium hexafluoride evolution from cold fuel salt in storage that ORNL did not defuel and store correctly, but this has now been taken into consid
  • with another summer coming up, Japan has been hurting for power after the shutdowns. Such a small land mass and so many people, nuclear power is really their best option. It takes a LOT of power to AC that many people on a sweltering Japanese summer day.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday March 04, 2013 @11:00PM (#43075625)

    The damn hippies, closed minded politicians, oil companies, coal producers and so on would shut their mouths.

    Nuclear energy is a amazing thing that is really a great boon to us. But the problem is everyone tries to cock block it (mostly due to old concepts and misinformation) so we are stuck with old technology and old technology doesnt stand up so yes we have problems with it. But what people dont realize is they dont want new nuclear plants, so we have ones that are way to old and have problems, those problems make people not want more nuclear energy so instead of letting us use new designs and build new plants they make us us the old unsafe ones.

    Its essentially like saying "Seat belts? You shouldnt be using cars at all, we dont want you making cars or redesigning them at all because too many people die in them" so instead of making cars safer and better people are stuck using the unsafe models because the general consensus is the old models arent safe.

    Nuclear energy has a bad name because everyone is all "GO GREEN!" and automatically thinks that nuclear energy will poison our planet and rape our familes. Why? Because of bad information and bad misconceptions. Nuclear energy is more efficent, uses less resources, more potent and cleaner than what we use now. PLus its use could be lowered in a lot of places where water and wind energy could be also. A major city that taps in nuclear, wind and or water reduces the need for any one of them since they are using them together. Nuclear energy in some places could be the sole source of energy if need be, but in a lot of places it could be used with other forms of natural energy combined.

    • by AmiMoJo (196126) * <[ten.3dlrow] [ta] [ojom]> on Tuesday March 05, 2013 @08:05AM (#43077707) Homepage

      You have no idea.

      For us as consumers it is better to save energy. It costs less and the money is spent improving our homes and our lives directly. The average Japanese or German home uses 1/3rd the energy that a US one does and they are not walking around in the dark or freezing cold or anything like that.

      For politicians nuclear is a huge burden on the state due to massive subsidy. It is also unpopular. In a democracy that isn't going to get you very far.

      For power companies they look at the high costs and uncertainties of nuclear and decide it is better to stick with dirty but known methods. Why get into constant fights with the government over subsidy and regulation over nuclear? Plus renewables are popular and improve your company image, while being fairly competitive on price (especially wind, hydro and geothermal).

      It's the damn nuke-u-like brigade who are blind to the realities of the world and think because nuclear looks good on paper it must be the best option in real life who are fucking things up.

      • by swillden (191260)

        The average Japanese or German home uses 1/3rd the energy that a US one does and they are not walking around in the dark or freezing cold or anything like that.

        It's worth pointing out that the median German home is 1/2 the size of the median US home, and Japanese homes are even smaller. So it's likely that most of that conservation is achieved not by more efficient heating/cooling/lighting but by having less space to heat, cool or light. Americans could invest in LED lights, more insulation, tankless water heaters, etc., and reduce their energy budgets by a non-trivial amount, but reaching European, much less Asian, levels would require living in smaller homes.

We will have solar energy as soon as the utility companies solve one technical problem -- how to run a sunbeam through a meter.

Working...