Saturday, January 12, 2008

With nuke rebirth come new worries


File under: No shit!

I will give George Jahn credit. He mentioned storage of nuclear waste which most authors seem to ignore. Storage could be far more important than security.
Global warming and rocketing oil prices are making nuclear power fashionable, drawing a once demonized industry out of the shadows of the Chernobyl disaster as a potential shining knight of clean energy.

Britain is the latest to recommit itself to the energy source, with its government announcing support Thursday for the construction of new nuclear power plants. Nuclear power plants produce around 20 percent of Britain's electricity, but all but one are due to close by 2023.

However, some countries hopping on the nuclear bandwagon have abysmal industrial safety records and corrupt ways that give many pause for thought.

China has 11 nuclear plants and plans to bring more than 30 others online by 2020. And a Massachusetts Institute of Technology report projects that it may need to add as many as 200 reactors by 2050.

Of the more than 100 nuclear reactors now being built, planned or on order, about half are in China, India and other developing nations. Argentina, Brazil and South Africa plan to expand existing programs; and Vietnam, Thailand, Egypt and Turkey are among the countries considering building their first reactors.

The concerns are hardly limited to developing countries. Japan's nuclear power industry has yet to recover from revelations five years ago of dozens of cases of false reporting on the inspections of nuclear reactor cracks.

The Swedish operators of a German reactor came under fire last summer for delays in informing the public about a fire at the plant. And a potentially disastrous partial breakdown of a Bulgarian nuclear plant's emergency shutdown mechanism in 2006 went unreported for two months until whistle-blowers made it public.

Nuclear transparency will be an even greater problem for countries such as China that have tight government controls on information. Those who mistrust the current nuclear revival are still haunted by the 1986 meltdown of the Chernobyl reactor and the Soviet Union's attempts to hide the full extent of the catastrophe. Further back in the collective memory is the partial meltdown at Three Mile Island in Pennsylvania in 1979.

Via Yahoo News.

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