Posts Tagged ‘navel reactors’
It is completely foolish for Washington to be putting restraints on American coal. It is a domestic fuel, which we have abundantly, and could greatly reduce our reliance on unstable Middle Eastern countries. Our country currently runs on coal and should continue to do so for many decades. At one time coal was a dirty fuel; that is no longer the case, it is clean, cheap and efficient. It is and should continue far into the future to be our primary energy source.
It is prudent to expand use of other domestic resources as well – we are rich in natural gas and should fully exploit this resource. We should do all we can to increase domestic oil production. Looking to the long range future we need to continue to take advantage of hydro, wind, solar, and other renewable generation – however in the short term, the next twenty to forty years, wind and solar are not yet competitive and will not be able to provide what we need at the capacity required for many decades. They also require a lot of land, which more traditional plants do not.
The alternative method of generating energy that is currently fully feasible, efficient, and competitive is nuclear power, and it can make an impact in our power production within three years if we were to move forward with expanding our nuclear capacity.
Nuclear power is the cleanest, safest, most reliable method of generating electricity. Its process releases nothing into the land, air, or water. The power plants are expensive to build, but per square foot generate more power. They also require less expensive maintenance and repairs and have a much longer operating life. The biggest drawback to nuclear power is public perception, fueled by environmental scare tactics.
There have been only two major reactor accidents ever – one in the US and one in the Soviet Union. This is with over 14,000 cumulative commercial reactor-years world-wide. Because of poor design, poor fire preventive measures, and inadequate containment measures, Chernobyl power station in the Soviet Union was a disaster. The Soviets were notably careless with both safety and environmental factors in their design and operation of both nuclear power generation and naval reactors. By comparison, Three Mile Island, the only U.S. reactor accident ever, was contained without harm to anyone and with no impact on the environment. The U.S. has 104 operating nuclear power stations in 31 states.
In addition to power generation the U.S. has operated the largest fleet of nuclear powered ships in the world. They currently have in active service 80 nuclear powered ships, including 11 aircraft carriers. The Navy has accumulated more than 5400 years of accident free nuclear service.
There are some very misleading statistics in some anti-nuclear propaganda in which they list the number of nuclear accidents to be about three thousand per year. What they are calling nuclear accidents are actually industrial accidents at nuclear facilities, and there is a very important distinction between the two. A nuclear accident by definition is a failure for any reason of a nuclear reactor which releases radioactive isotopes; the two examples in the first paragraph are the only two nuclear accidents ever.
The large number of accidents reported, industrial accidents, are identical to industrial accidents in conventional power plants, mines, factories, construction, etc. Industrial accidents include those caused steam explosions, falls, shocks, falling objects, vehicle accidents, misapplication of tools, failure to wear personal protective equipment, and any other type of on-the-job injury or fatality. OSHA statistics show the truth is that the industrial accident rate in nuclear power plants is lower than conventional power plants; ten times lower than manufacturing, and less than half the rate of accidents in business offices. Furthermore, contrary to claims that aging nuclear plants are become more dangerous, NRC statistics show that their safety and reliability improve with time.
Another objection to nuclear power is the nuclear waste, spent uranium pellets. The fact is that this concern has already been addressed, and this waste will eventually be reprocessed reducing the amount of waste considerably, by these measures:
• Deep geologic repositories (easily expandable if needed)
• Greatly improved fuel reduces amount of waste
• Reprocessing of waste back into usable fuel
The waste is stored in one of two deep geologic repositories on existing military nuclear reservations in Nevada and New Mexico. In these the material is stored in solid rock below a dry isolated desert environment 1000 feet underground, and 1000 feet above the water table. At today’s rate of production there is already room in these for 10,000 years of production from our 104 power plants. Because these caverns are developed by conventional mining methods that capacity can easily be increased if ever needed.
The amount of waste created is actually very small. The total nuclear waste and its packaging (it’s stored in barrels) generated during the last forty years from all U.S. power plants, processing facilities, labs, and military waste would cover about one football field.
Europe Claims to have been reprocessing its nuclear waste for decades. Some dispute their claims, but most scientists believe it will eventually be perfected. This has several benefits. It reduces the amount of required waste storage. It greatly reduces the radioactive half-life of the waste. It uses existing uranium, reducing requirement for new mined mineral. In fact recycling the fuel in this way would reduce our current waste from nearly covering a football field to covering only 2.4 yards of the field – a 96.6% reduction in stored waste.
Every valid technical, safety, and environmental concern about nuclear power has been mitigated. We have the knowledge and body of experience to expand our usage safely and efficiently. Nuclear electricity should become, along with coal, a mainstay of our power industry.