[ RadSafe ] What's Killing The Nuclear Industry?

THOMAS POTTER pottert at erols.com
Tue May 14 22:28:16 CDT 2013

I am also a supporter of nuclear power and am mostly retired after a long health physics career. I share Bill Lipton's frustrations about many of the posts on RADSAFE. However, I do not agree with Bill's sense that the only ( or even the most important) question the public cares about is, "Can the nuclear industry be trusted to manage the technology?"   

The collapse of the rapid expansion phase of the nuclear power industry development predated both Chernobyl and TMI and had everything to do with economic fallout from the Arab oil embargo and nothing to do with loss of trust. Resulting reduced power demand, high inflation, and high interest rates drove new  nuclear power out of the market. 

Uncertainty about need for power was also important in this collapse. A significant part of  nuclear's economic problem, shared with renewables, is that a large fraction of the ultimate cost of its production of electrical power comes up front when the plant is built. A significant part of fossil fuel plants' ultimate cost of production is deferred as fuel costs, which can be avoided later in the event of investment misjudgment. 

Fukushima is not the most imp ortant recent development  influencing the future of nuclear power. Cheap natural gas is. Cheap n atural gas is rapidly replacing even coal for electric power production, while simultaneously reducing carbon emissions.  In the continuing absence of a substantial price for carbon emission, it is virtually certain to be the option of choice over new nuclear or renewables for electric power production. 

Fukushima was certainly a substantial blow to public trust. We may see how important public trust  is to nuclear power in the near term by watching what happens to currently operating plants. Sweden is not even pretending a new phase-out, probably chastened  after its earlier phase-out resulted in the closure of only a single unit. Germany is planning a phase-out by 2022, but only three units are scheduled for closure prior to 2021. Japan is already considering reopening at least some currently shut down plants.  Of course all of these nations are looking for cheap gas . 

The focus on trust is misplaced. If it was all about trust, how does BP survive ?   It has little to do with  trust. It's all about need. 

Thomas E. Potter  

----- Original Message -----

Date: Mon, 13 May 2013 13:42:27 -0400 
From: William Lipton <doctorbill34 at gmail.com> 
Subject: [ RadSafe ] What's Killing The Nuclear Industry? 
To: radsafe <radsafe at health.phys.iit.edu> 
        <CAJODVEFeijbmM6WFmu5SerwHraBVW3idtgsNQQeK9oqbM3sNhg at mail.gmail.com> 
Content-Type: text/plain; charset=ISO-8859-1 

As a supporter of nuclear power, who retired after working 26 years at a 
nuclear power plant, it is frustrating to read the many postings and 
arguments regarding LNT, hormesis, mutated tomatoes at Fukushima, the 
dangers of coal,  etc.  You don't get it! 

The future of nuclear power will NOT be decided by whether low level 
radiation exposure is good or bad, whether the media is biased, whether our 
government is controlled by antinukes, or whether other ways of producing 
electricity are just as hazardous. 

There is only one question that the public cares about:  Can the nuclear 
industry be trusted to manage the technology? 

I dare anyone to answer, "Yes," to that. 

Going forward, discussions should focus on what we can do to change this 
situation.  The burden of proof is on us. 

Bill Lipton 
It's not about dose, it's about trust. 

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