[ RadSafe ] What's Killing The Nuclear Industry?

Wed May 15 13:54:32 CDT 2013

Unfortunately, as science/engineering/technical folks we are trying to
use intellectual tools that are comfortable to us - rationality and
logic - while we are largely competing against arguments based on
emotion and (in some cases) the rejection of the tools we hold dear. We
can't use logical arguments to win an emotional argument.

I would strongly recommend reading "The Political Brain" by Drew Westen
for some insights into this sort of thing. Westen is a neuroscientist
who examines how our brains work and why it is that logical arguments
almost always lose against emotional ones. He points out that, to a
person wedded to logic and rationality, it seems like cheating to use
emotional arguments. On the other hand, if we stick entirely to what
seems fair to us (letting an idea triumph by sheer force of
rationality), we're bound to lose almost every time. Dick Toohey spoke
about this book during his President-Elect tour and persuaded me to buy
the book - it's a real eye-opener. 

The bottom line - it doesn't matter how correct we are or how
beautifully we have assembled our side of the debate unless we can get
the attention of those we are trying to convince.


-----Original Message-----
From: radsafe-bounces at health.phys.iit.edu
[mailto:radsafe-bounces at health.phys.iit.edu] On Behalf Of Clayton J
Sent: Wednesday, May 15, 2013 1:54 PM
To: pottert at erols.com; radsafe at health.phys.iit.edu
Subject: Re: [ RadSafe ] What's Killing The Nuclear Industry?

The economic arguments in Thomas Potter's post are compelling, and
correct(what do I know about economics?). However, the nuclear industry
subject to federal regulation to a far greater degree than the fossil
extraction sector. But even if all the economic signals are favorable
new plants to be built, a license is still required and the potential
political forces to intervene in that process is very real. Unless the
current trust deficit is mitigated somehow, it will be nigh on
to garner public support for licensing new plants. That being the case,
plants will only come on line if the federal government is prepared to
ignore the will of the majority of citizens. Fortunately for the nuclear
power industry, present indications are that the government does not
the thwarting of the people's will as much of an obstacle.

Clayton Bradt
Principal Radiophysicist
NYS Dept. of Health

*******Original Message*******************************
Date: Tue, 14 May 2013 23:28:16 -0400 (EDT)
From: THOMAS POTTER <pottert at erols.com>
Subject: Re: [ RadSafe ] What's Killing The Nuclear Industry?
To: radsafe at health.phys.iit.edu

<3854357.48409884.1368588496614.JavaMail.root at md03.rcn.cmh.synacor.com>

Content-Type: text/plain; charset=utf-8

I am also a supporter of nuclear power and am mostly retired after a
health physics career. I share Bill Lipton's frustrations about many of
posts on RADSAFE. However, I do not agree with Bill's sense that the
( or even the most important) question the public cares about is, "Can
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
economic fallout from the Arab oil embargo and nothing to do with loss
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,
that a large fraction of the ultimate cost of its production of
power comes up front when the plant is built. A significant part of
fuel plants' ultimate cost of production is deferred as fuel costs,
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
substantial price for carbon emission, it is virtually certain to be the
option of choice over new nuclear or renewables for electric power

Fukushima was certainly a substantial blow to public trust. We may see
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
the closure of only a single unit. Germany is planning a phase-out by
but only three units are scheduled for closure prior to 2021. Japan is
already considering reopening at least some currently shut down plants.?
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?
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