Nuclear Power Options

I’ve commented before on nuclear power. I think it absolutely the best option for long-term power needs in the United States. We have safe technology, we should use it. As much as it pains me to say it, look at France where nearly 80% of their power comes from nuclear plants.

Yes, there is a high cost for each nuclear plant that is built. However, a rise in costs is due to the fact that we haven’t built any plans in twenty years. The more plants that are built, the lower the cost. Also, a great deal of money has to be allocated to fight incessant  lawsuits from groups like the Sierra Club and Greenpeace who ignore scientists around the world who know and have stated that nuclear power is a safe option for power generation.

I’ve always been an advocate for new plants. Central MO might end up with a second reactor at the Callaway Nuclear Power Station outside of Fulton, Missouri. 

However, there is another option being discussed. Part of the problem in the United States is our power grid. It is a vast system of stations, substations, and power lines. Another part of the problem is that there are areas in which it is difficult to get power too. In those cases, very dirty forms of energy generation are used. The new option is “nuclear batteries.” Think small, self-contained nuclear reactors that could be buried and used for 5-10 years. When the fuel runs out, the new reactor is buried and the old one is recycled. The ones currently being design can produce enough electricity to power 20,000 homes. This isn’t enough for most major cities but it certainly can provide the needs of less accessible lands, especially ones that normally rely on dirty power sources. I can see how many companies are examining this. The upfront cost might be high, but imagine not having to worry about your power source for 5-10 years with zero pollution. 

I’m just going to say it again. Nuclear power is safe. I would much rather have a nuclear plant in my backyard than a coal plant. Why? Because a coal plant emits more radiation than a nuclear plant. If you want, I’ll dig up the paper I wrote on this in college. By living in a brick home or living in Colorado, you actually receive more radiation per year than if you life within 50 miles of a nuclear plant. Also, we have solutions for nuclear waste. We can bury it in Nevada which is a completely legitimate and safe solution or we can even enclose it in glass blocks and drop it into the sea (believe me, it actually would work. Glass is extremely resistant to pressure and if put in the right spot, it would be impossible for anyone to retrieve off the ocean floor). Also, when people think about nuclear waste they think of it as being these massive piles of rubble outside a plant. This is not the case. All of the nuclear waste in the United States that comes from both power generation and defense related activities amounts to approximately 75,000 tons. The amount generated by these small plants that have bee proposed amount to something the size of a football. 

You ask why I care so much about this? Because I grew up around nuclear “stuff.” My grandfather worked at the Naval Research Labs in Washington, D.C. My mom worked for ten years at the University of Missouri’s Research Reactor (MURR) which is the largest university owned nuclear reactor in the nation. I got to know nuclear scientists from many different backgrounds including the military and civilian worlds. I got to stand “on the bridge” over the reactor a number of times. The only thing that scared me about going into the containment building was my ears popping in the airlock.

Bring it on baby… build in my backyard.

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2 Responses

  1. I totally agree. Just twitted about this one minute ago, actually.

    It’s not going to happen until another generation takes over most of the government, though. My fear.

  2. In Italy the situation is quite different. We tried to have nuclear power and after a referendum people afraid of what happened in Chernobyl renounced to this clear source of energy. Maybe now with the help of France we should begin again our nuclear energy production but there are so many polemics…

    http://italianopinionist.wordpress.com/2009/03/02/a-nuclear-war/

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