Guardian: Everyone knows nuclear plants are not really safe — Only a few noisy die-hards arguing radiation from nuke plants is harmless

Published: April 2nd, 2012 at 1:45 pm ET
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Title: Nuclear industry dreams dashed by current economic reality
Source: The Guardian
Author: Martin Cohen
Date: April 2, 2012

The news that nuclear giants RWE and E.ON are dropping plans to build any new UK reactors has sent a toxic cloud not only over Wales, but over the nuclear industry itself.

Of course, everyone knows nowadays, post-Chernobyl, post-Fukushima, that nuclear power plants are not really safe. Even if there are a few noisy die-hards, arguing that the resulting radiation is harmless, and that “hardly anyone” dies as a direct consequence of atomic meltdown, that old canard just won’t wash any more.

Other nuclear myths, though, have lingered on. Atomic energy, unveiled by Her Majesty with grand aplomb at Calder Hall half a century ago, still has a hi-tech glamour, an aura of somehow being “the future”. The reality that atomic plants are basically steam engines staffed by thousands of casual workers who would otherwise be picking strawberries or digging up roads somehow never impinges. [...]

the unpalatable fact is that the electricity produced is not economic and that the scheme has only been kept going by increasingly exotic public subsidies and finance packages (read sub-prime crisis).

That’s not even to mention other economic tricks the industry excels in, such as putting off decommissioning and waste disposal costs into a far distant future and hiving off its disaster and insurance liabilities by, er … basically, ignoring them.

The promise of nuclear was that if its plants were expensive, surely, over time, industry costs would drop, both due to economies of scale and new technology, and that sooner or later, the electricity it produced would become commercial, rather than merely a useful by-product of plutonium enrichment. [...]

Read the report here

Published: April 2nd, 2012 at 1:45 pm ET
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