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Power

Megatons To Megawatts Program Comes To a Close 125

Posted by Soulskill
from the time-to-make-some-gigascale-weapons dept.
necro81 writes "In the aftermath of the Cold War, the disintegrating Soviet Union had tens of thousands of nuclear weapons and tons of weapons-grade fissile material. In the economic and political turmoil, many feared that it would fall into unfriendly hands. However, thanks to the doggedness of an MIT professor, Dr. Thomas Neff, 500 metric tons of weapons grade material made its way into nuclear reactors in the United States through the Megatons to Megawatts program. During the program, about 10% of all electricity generated in the U.S. came from weapons once aimed at the country. Now, after nearly 20 years, the program is coming to an end. The final shipment of Soviet-era uranium, now nuclear fuel, has arrived in Baltimore."
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Megatons To Megawatts Program Comes To a Close

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  • Nuclear dangers... (Score:4, Insightful)

    by RightSaidFred99 (874576) on Wednesday January 29, 2014 @03:14AM (#46097841)

    Sadly, nuclear power is dying due to ignorance. Coal kills thousands (maybe 15+) in the US alone every year, and tens to hundreds of thousands worldwide every year. Yet what do we hear in the news? Fukushima. Where you can count the death toll with 0 fingers, and even in 50 years it'll be less than coal kills in the US in a single year.

    You can argue that Coal is a false choice (it isn't, it's what we have now) but even natural gas kills an order of magnitude or more people yearly than nuclear power, and yes _Solar_ kills more people.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday January 29, 2014 @03:28AM (#46097887)
    I think the point is that the fuel is being aimed at us again.
  • by buchner.johannes (1139593) on Wednesday January 29, 2014 @05:55AM (#46098357) Homepage Journal

    Sadly, nuclear power is dying due to ignorance.

    Yes, lets compute the human deaths in the production, while ignoring non-lethal health issues, other species (which we are not independent of) and the 10000 year contamination of the end products and any issues that will occur during this time.

    Both nuclear and coal are crappy options.

  • by SuricouRaven (1897204) on Wednesday January 29, 2014 @06:40AM (#46098477)

    All the options are crappy. We just have to make do with picking the least-crappy.

  • Re:Good and bad (Score:5, Insightful)

    by AmiMoJo (196126) * <mojo@@@world3...net> on Wednesday January 29, 2014 @09:44AM (#46099195) Homepage

    Nuclear is relatively safe but has rather extreme risks, which makes it extremely expensive. A lot of nuclear fans don't seem to appreciate why low probability but very high cost risks are a problem.

    Nuclear safety is expensive. Nuclear insurance against incredibly expensive accidents is literally priceless, in that no commercial insurance company will offer it so the government has to. The cost of centralizing so much capacity in a form that can randomly shut down at any time (and regularly does) creates a lot of cost to the grid for reserve capacity. Compared to most other forms of energy nuclear is just very, very costly and that is what is killing it off.

    The only places where new nuclear is being built is where the government is funding it. For example in the UK the government provides insurance and has guaranteed well above market rates for any electricity produced.

    IFRs are interesting but have their own problems (such as spontaneously catching fire if there is a sodium leak, as happened in Japan) and are a long way from a proven commercial scale design. With all the other costs and risks involved (and by risk I mean the risk that some design issue creates massive extra costs or cancellation) it is unlikely that any company will want to invest in developing one. Even if they did it would be a decade or more before it was even built and operating, by which time Germany will be nuclear free and the market is likely to have changed dramatically in light of that.

  • by ILongForDarkness (1134931) on Wednesday January 29, 2014 @10:09AM (#46099423)

    So it is the nuclear industries fault that they follow safety regs and your mom and pop solar installer doesn't?

    Nuclear is far far safer than most things. 250k coal mining deaths in the last 50 years worldwide. 64 nuclear deaths. Even accounting for relative energy production nuke is about 6% (fossiil fuels were lumped together where I found them http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/W... [wikipedia.org]) and scaling: you'd be looking at ~1k deaths if all were nuke versus about 500k if all coal (assuming ~50% of the fossil fuels is coal generation, the rest oil, natural gas).

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