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Tuesday, April 26, 2016

CHERNOBYL AND FUKUSHIMA KILLED NUCLEAR POWER

It was 30 years ago today (1986) when the future of fission nuclear power was compromised by a human / technology accident:  the Chernobyl nuclear cataclysm.  A little more than five years ago nature caused the calamitous Fukushima nuclear catastrophe.  A hint of things to come occurred at Three Mile Island in 1979 just before I began working for the U.S. Senate, only about 100 miles away.  There were lies, of course.   Such governmental responses can be predicted for these debacles, but interestingly enough, they spurred the further development of renewable energy.  


What will be the reality of these tragedies?
  • Belarus alone is expected to bear $235 billion of expenses over the next 30 years
  • Nuclear organizations and governments tend to downplay the damages, and green speculations may exaggerate the effect, as for example, estimating eventual costs of $1 trillion to $21 trillion for Fukushima.  
  • However, a French Federal agency reported a worst case scenario danger of $7.5 trillion from a nuclear power disaster, which is almost three times their Gross Domestic Product, so the ultimate cost of both Chernobyl and Fukushima could well reach at least the $1 trillion, each.  
  • From a fiscal standpoint, that would be tens of times worse than the cumulative electricity revenues accumulated during the lifetime of those plants.
International contributors will be mostly paying the $1.5 billion for that sarcophagus over Chernobyl's ruins, said to be able to house the Statue of Liberty, and hopefully to be covered next year:


At least most of European nuclear power facilities will not be bothered by tsunamis:


The problem with U.S. nuclear power producers could well be seismic:


What worries me most about these facilities, though, is that terrorist groups (Muslim and environmental) could well by now have planted a few key personnel into some of the above sites, and the fallout of inside jobs near highly populated locales will surely kill off fossil power forever.  

Were there any positives from Chernobyl and Fukushima?  Well, some have suggested that Chernobyl bankrupted the Soviet Union, serving as the catalyst for Mikhail Gorbachev prevailing in domestic politics to end the Cold War.  Thus, perhaps it took peaceful nuclear power to end the prospects of a nuclear winter:


Fukushima forced governments to take a close look at what it really costs to build, operate and clean-up nuclear facilities.  The current expense of a new nuclear power plants is now beyond commercial sense.  Nuclear power is on the decline in the USA.  In Europe, renewables are making nuclear unattractive, especially as a brand new one is only built at 1000 MW or larger sizes, while you can custom-fit solar options:


Yes, you get far less carbon dioxide emissions from nuclear power plants relative to coal, but just the simple economics combined with the potential for catastrophic incidents and dirty nuclear terroristic bombs have made financing new nuclear projects only possible now in a country like China.  Europe is swiftly abandoning fission nuclear, but still supports fusion, with R&D being pursued on ITER (leftInternational Thermonuclear Experimental Reactor) at Cadarache, France.  Alas, ITER, created by Reagan-Gorbachev 31 years ago, is now up to $14 billion and not expected to even try deuterium-tritium fusion for at least another decade.


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