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Huhne's speech to Royal Society on Nuclear Power

 
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Mean Mr Mustard



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PostPosted: Thu Oct 13, 2011 2:00 pm    Post subject: Huhne's speech to Royal Society on Nuclear Power Reply with quote

Quote:


We manage the worlds largest plutonium stocks more than a hundred tonnes and they will need guarding for as long as it takes us to convert it and build long-term deep storage. And if we dont, we will have to guard it for tens of thousands of years.

Half of my departments budget goes in cleaning up this mess, and it will rise to two thirds next year. That is 2 billion a year, year in and year out, that we are continuing to pay for electricity that was consumed in the fifties, sixties and seventies on a false prospectus.

Yet the total nuclear liabilities that the Nuclear Decommissioning Authority now deal with are estimated to be 49 billion, and I cannot be confident that the figure will not rise again as we discover yet more problems.

Just look at the history of rose-tinted spectacles: the provisions for nuclear decommissioning costs in total were 2 million in 1970. 472 million in 1980. 9.5 billion in 1990. 22.5 billion in 2000. And now 53.7 billion.

It seems to me essential reassurance to tax-payers and energy consumers that I and my successors can honestly say This will never happen again.

Despite this history, I believe that nuclear electricity can and should play a part in our energy future provided that new nuclear is built without public subsidy. And it is precisely because of that post-dated bill from past nuclear mistakes that I reiterate with exceptional feeling without public subsidy.

The whole speech is well worth reading.

http://www.decc.gov.uk/en/content/cms/news/ch_sp_royal/ch_sp_royal.aspx
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emordnilap



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PostPosted: Thu Oct 13, 2011 2:06 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Gah. I got as far as "Despite this history, I believe that nuclear..."

Those who ignore history, etc etc.
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PS_RalphW



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PostPosted: Thu Oct 13, 2011 3:05 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

We are going to have to do something with all this waste.

Leaving it quietly simmering for decades whilst we enter chaotic powerdown is the worst possible option. The future liabilities of nuclear cleanup are growing hyperbolically in fiat money terms because the future value of fiat money is decaying so fast. We do not have the energy to build a gold plated over engineered solution to this problem. We probably do not have a 'solution' at all, but we need a least worst coping strategy.

So the questions we have to ask, is do we

1. modify the waste to make it less toxic/dangerous? Do we build/reopen a mox plant to convert the plutonium at least to something slightly easier to handle?

2. Convert the waste to a relatively inert form - convert/embed in glass to keep the leaching rates to a minimum

3, Find a location with low productivity, low population density land, stable geology and slow moving water table, and drill a very deep hole. Deposit high grade waste.

4. Fill the hole with waterproof concrete and hide the entrance. (It is pointless to leave 'do not dig here' signs, because they will only attract desperate people as we go through collapse, and in a post-fossil age it is very unlikely anybody will have both the ability and the desire to dig that deep in such an unproductive place).

Low grade waste we will need to dump in less secure locations, relying on slow release to the environment, probably the deep ocean, to keep radiation levels within tolerable levels.
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emordnilap



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PostPosted: Thu Oct 13, 2011 3:21 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

All very well, RalphW - something has to be done about existing pollution, I agree.

But Huhne and his cronies want more.
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clv101
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PostPosted: Thu Oct 13, 2011 3:26 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

emordnilap wrote:
All very well, RalphW - something has to be done about existing pollution, I agree.

But Huhne and his cronies want more.


I don't really see 'more' as being much of a issue. In my opinion it's a binary problem, we either have a nuclear waste problem (we do) or we don't. The actual scale (in tonnes or activity) of the problem isn't such an issue.
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Blue Peter



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PostPosted: Thu Oct 13, 2011 3:31 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

clv101 wrote:

I don't really see 'more' as being much of a issue. In my opinion it's a binary problem, we either have a nuclear waste problem (we do) or we don't. The actual scale (in tonnes or activity) of the problem isn't such an issue.


That's the "thermodynamic" analysis. The "kinetic" analysis notes that there is a time element to this; stuff that exists now can be dealt with now (-ish). But if we keep on producing stuff, we will reach the point at which we are still producing, but can't handle it anymore. We need to stop before that point,


Peter.
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emordnilap



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PostPosted: Thu Oct 13, 2011 3:48 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

There is a kind of a logic there: we can have climate change, motorway pile-ups, AIDS, famine, pollution, whatever or not. "The actual scale of the problem isn't such an issue." Hmmmm....
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PS_RalphW



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PostPosted: Thu Oct 13, 2011 4:15 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

The pro-nuclear camp use the argument that current reactor designs generate less waste (or cheaper to dispose of waste) per KWh and so building new reactors will not add significantly to disposal costs.

Apart from being more thermally efficient, I do not see how they make this claim, and in any case it is embedded in a BAU model of society. If we keep the reactors open through the fossil powerdown we all know is coming, we will at some point have to decommission the last reactor using energy purely from renewable sources.

As I see it we have a narrow and rapidly vanishing window in which to use available fossil energy to process all nuclear waste to the least damaging, most stable forms we can engineer, before we enter a period of engineering decline which will inevitably lead to Japanese style meltdown / hydrogen explosion events, which cause widespread long lasting contamination.

Perhaps as a last resort we could pay Australia to take it back and rebury it in the uranium mines it came from. Low population density, low productivity land, liable to have little water tables problems, being in the middle of a continent sized climate warmed, desert.
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PostPosted: Thu Oct 13, 2011 5:00 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

RalphW wrote:
Perhaps as a last resort we could pay Australia to take it back and rebury it in the uranium mines it came from. Low population density, low productivity land, liable to have little water tables problems, being in the middle of a continent sized climate warmed, desert.


Good idea; they profited from the mining, they should share the burden of the consequences.

Ralph, I wish you (or someone with similar sense) were in Huhne's position.
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PS_RalphW



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PostPosted: Thu Oct 13, 2011 11:40 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

emordnilap wrote:

Ralph, I wish you (or someone with similar sense) were in Huhne's position.


Embarassed Cool
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Mean Mr Mustard



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PostPosted: Thu Oct 13, 2011 11:51 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

RalphW wrote:
emordnilap wrote:

Ralph, I wish you (or someone with similar sense) were in Huhne's position.


Embarassed Cool


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An Inspector Calls
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PostPosted: Sat Oct 15, 2011 4:18 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

RalphW wrote:
The pro-nuclear camp use the argument that current reactor designs generate less waste (or cheaper to dispose of waste) per KWh and so building new reactors will not add significantly to disposal costs.

We claim rather more than that.

Most of the cost Huhne is discussing with respect to this clean up has nothing at all to do with civil nuclear power. The decommissioning of the magnox stations (and they'll be the worst) seems to be coming in at 1b a station. They were not designed with any de-commissioning process in mind. Any modern designs will be less than that as they'll design-in de-commissioning. They'll have to, by law. Adding 1b to the cost of something like Wylfa, over its 45+ year life at ~75 % load factor doesn't make too much difference to the cost of unit energy its produced.
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