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Author Topic: Will German voters eventually change their minds?  (Read 8746 times)

Offline Geezer

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Looks like the voters in Germany have given nuclear energy a big thumbs down. I'm pretty sure there will be a similar reaction in many countries now. The question is, will there be a permanent backlash against nuclear energy, or will voters' concerns tend to fade over time?
« Last Edit: 28/03/2011 01:50:39 by Geezer »


 

Offline daveman

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Re: Will German voters eventually change their minds?
« Reply #1 on: 27/03/2011 23:56:48 »
Looks like the voters in Germany have given nuclear energy a big thumbs down. I'm pretty sure there will be a similar reaction in many countries now. The question is, will this be a temporary backlash against nuclear energy, or will the concerns tend to fade over time?

I still don't understand why they can't design a failsafe plant.

Maybe they have to think outside of the envelope. Design for magnitude 11 and pay the cost. It's cheaper than folding a world power.
 

Offline Geezer

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Re: Will German voters eventually change their minds?
« Reply #2 on: 28/03/2011 00:22:31 »
It could only be truly failsafe if it relied on a continuous supply of something to keep the reaction going. Then, as soon as you cut off the supply of the "thing", the reaction would simply stop. Unfortunately, it's the other way around. The stuff that makes the reaction is all loaded into the reactor, so you have to continually remove energy to stop it getting too hot (although you can control the reaction rate).

Anyway, even if you could make truly failsafe reactors, I doubt the public would be in any rush to believe you! At this point, I suspect any politician that supports nuclear energy in an election campaign, is pretty much guaranteed defeat, or even, deboot.
 

Offline daveman

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Re: Will German voters eventually change their minds?
« Reply #3 on: 28/03/2011 00:48:28 »
It could only be truly failsafe if it relied on a continuous supply of something to keep the reaction going. Then, as soon as you cut off the supply of the "thing", the reaction would simply stop. Unfortunately, it's the other way around. The stuff that makes the reaction is all loaded into the reactor, so you have to continually remove energy to stop it getting too hot (although you can control the reaction rate).

Anyway, even if you could make truly failsafe reactors, I doubt the public would be in any rush to believe you! At this point, I suspect any politician that supports nuclear energy in an election campaign, is pretty much guaranteed defeat, or even, deboot.

Uufff. I thought you could completey stop the reaction by withdrawing the bars completely.  In that case you'd only need power long enough to do that.

But if it's as you say, we're fried. Unless they can make a 100 MagaWatt dummy load, they shouldn't even be making plants like that. A plant that can't be shut down!! Shessssh!

 

Offline Jolly- Joliver

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Re: Will German voters eventually change their minds?
« Reply #4 on: 28/03/2011 01:02:06 »
Looks like the voters in Germany have given nuclear energy a big thumbs down. I'm pretty sure there will be a similar reaction in many countries now. The question is, will this be a temporary backlash against nuclear energy, or will the concerns tend to fade over time?

I still don't understand why they can't design a failsafe plant.

Maybe they have to think outside of the envelope. Design for magnitude 11 and pay the cost. It's cheaper than folding a world power.

Sadly the industry has not been interested in designing a fail safe plant, the mark one reactor currently have problems in Japan, were not stopped being put into production(even tho 35 years ago design engineers condemed them, and 25 years ago they were shown to have a 90% probability of falure with loss of power) simply because it would felt that would destroy the industry.

Industry is interest in money first, a recent report from america showed that repeatedly industry didnt report problems and didnt even know it was meant to report any damages or flaws to the systems and parts they used, needless to say all of the things that have been braking or going wrong over the years never got reported and were all kept hidden. Meaning also that other plants using the same equipment would carry on unaware that somewhere else that equipment had been shown to be falty or flawed.

and it's not just the actaul power plants, all the waste material has to be looked after, and if it is not looked after correctly, you get more radiation releases, in Russia at first they burried the waste near towns, those areas today are all highly radioactive(that's nothing to do with Chenobyl).

Radiation is unsafe for people, so in any system of power production in which you use nuclear there will always be a danger.

Fusions might be safer, but that a different thing entirely.
 

Offline Jolly- Joliver

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Re: Will German voters eventually change their minds?
« Reply #5 on: 28/03/2011 01:12:10 »

Uufff. I thought you could completey stop the reaction by withdrawing the bars completely. 

No once the rods have been started they carry on, pulling them out of the reator would be worse, once started they have to be keep under water to prevent them over heating, when they over heat the metal that surrounds the inner material will melt, releasing the radioactive material inside.

Even after they have been used, "spent" they are still hot enought to melt the outer metal rod casing(but not hot enought for the main heat generation inside the reators), which is why all the Rods at fukushima were kept in fuel storage pools, they still have to be kept cool to stop the outer metal casing melting. 

Just saw this update on Japan from Russia Today the last part deals with IAEA
« Last Edit: 28/03/2011 03:29:39 by Wiybit »
 

Offline daveman

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Will German voters eventually change their minds?
« Reply #6 on: 28/03/2011 15:12:05 »
Imagine that matches couldn't be extinguished. Eventually you'd have no where to put the matches. You'd have to deal with your lighted matches forever. And that would be a real pain.

Obviously nuclear fuel is 1,000,000 times worse!

How do we have the nerve?
 

Offline rosy

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Will German voters eventually change their minds?
« Reply #7 on: 28/03/2011 16:05:06 »
We-ell. I think that's a bit simplistic. Nuclear's been really unpopular in a lot of quarters for a long while now. It's been hard to get new plants built, but turning off the old ones, because they've not been replaced, is going to lead to power outages. So we're still running 60s designs, built in the 70s and wa-ay past their planned lifetimes.

The public, unfortunately, are not encouraged, either by government or the media, to behave like grown-ups on this one. Either we need to build modern, safe nuclear plants (there are several designs out there that would be extremely safe, tho' I must say I'd be a little uncomfortable about putting them on a fault line), or we need to start cutting electricity (in general energy) consumption dramatically and permanently. Not politically popular, hitherto. We might, in the very long term, get back to current consumption levels through renewables, but with the developing nations, quite rightly, unwilling to accept restrictions on their growth per capita in energy consumption whilst in the developed world we're running our air con and heating all day every day and driving about in large cars, unless people like us take a big cut, globally we're still nowhere near peak demand.
 

Offline SeanB

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Will German voters eventually change their minds?
« Reply #8 on: 28/03/2011 16:59:10 »
The main problem is that the design is close to 50 years old, and if it had been modernised over the decades ( as it has to some extent, but the basic design is still the same) and if it had some more safety systems ( remember that it is basically the only thing left standing along the entire coastline it is on, all the other industrial plants went out to sea or were flattened, releasing whatever they had inside along the way, along with all the houses, cars, roads and all other infrastructure) there would have been no problem other than a concern over the lack of power.

Removing nuclear as base load will result in power shortages, and a massive price increase, as nuclear is still the cheapest power where available, coal being next along with hydro, and all others being multiples more.
 

Offline Geezer

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Will German voters eventually change their minds?
« Reply #9 on: 28/03/2011 17:43:58 »
Thanks all for the comments. I'm sure that some modifications could have prevented the situation in Japan from turning into a disaster, but that's not really my question.

The voters in Germany have made it quite clear they don't support nuclear power generation, and I'm reasonably confident you'll now see a similar reaction from voters all over the World. Will this be a temporary setback for nuclear power, or does it have much longer term implications?
 

Offline Bored chemist

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Will German voters eventually change their minds?
« Reply #10 on: 28/03/2011 19:17:41 »
Imagine that matches couldn't be extinguished. Eventually you'd have no where to put the matches. You'd have to deal with your lighted matches forever. And that would be a real pain.

Obviously nuclear fuel is 1,000,000 times worse!

How do we have the nerve?

Put them in a hearth (of the sort that has existed for millennia).
No problem.
 

Offline Madidus_Scientia

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Will German voters eventually change their minds?
« Reply #11 on: 29/03/2011 12:13:25 »
Is nuclear power really dangerous or is it just our perceptions? Like how a plane crash that kills a hundred people is a disaster, but the fact that a hundred other people died that day in various car accidents isn't even mentioned.

http://www.asianews.it/news-en/Fukushima-is-not-Chernobyl,-wind-power-causes-more-deaths-21064.html

Btw yes I realise the above article seems biased for not including the estimated deaths due to cancer, etc. which are 4000 or so. But it still makes you think.

People fear what they do not understand, and hardly anyone understands radiation.
« Last Edit: 29/03/2011 12:26:23 by Madidus_Scientia »
 

Offline imatfaal

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Will German voters eventually change their minds?
« Reply #12 on: 29/03/2011 12:56:31 »
MadSci you are completely right - might I add that people also do not understand hazard, risk, and probability .  With reference to your comment about comparative dangers of air and road - here is a link with the comparative dangers/deaths posed by power generation (per Terawatthour)

http://nextbigfuture.com/2011/03/deaths-per-twh-by-energy-source.html
 

Offline Jolly- Joliver

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Will German voters eventually change their minds?
« Reply #13 on: 29/03/2011 22:42:48 »
Is nuclear power really dangerous or is it just our perceptions? Like how a plane crash that kills a hundred people is a disaster, but the fact that a hundred other people died that day in various car accidents isn't even mentioned.

http://www.asianews.it/news-en/Fukushima-is-not-Chernobyl,-wind-power-causes-more-deaths-21064.html

Btw yes I realise the above article seems biased for not including the estimated deaths due to cancer, etc. which are 4000 or so. But it still makes you think.

People fear what they do not understand, and hardly anyone understands radiation.

Maybe but it is extremly dangerous.

AS for death related to cancer the New york association of scientists and green peace have both estimated the deaths since anf because of Chenoybl to today to be around a million, the 4000 figure you gives sounds like industry talk.

Not to mention all the other issue that come with nuclear, and others that might have died, as a result of all the other problems that dumping waste ect has caused over the years, as for Fukushima we'll see, but every power station has the potencial to be a nightmare.
 

Offline Madidus_Scientia

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Will German voters eventually change their minds?
« Reply #14 on: 30/03/2011 07:42:14 »
No, its from the WHO. Why would data from Greenpeace be more reliable??

There's radioactive material in coal too you know, and this is all released in the exhaust from coal power plants. In addition to particulate matter which is estimated to cause many thousands of deaths per year. And approximately 12000 coal workers die per year in the mining.

So i'd say nuclear is a hell of a lot safer than coal.
 

Offline Geezer

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Will German voters eventually change their minds?
« Reply #15 on: 30/03/2011 09:02:56 »
Yes! Yes! (sheesh - it's like herding cats I tell you)

The question was about public perception, which may well have bugger all little to do with scientific facts. However, public perception is a scientific fact, and it can (should?) have an enormous impact on policy, at least in democratic societies.

Soooooo, are the general public going to forget about recent events in Japan quickly, or have those events  significantly mucked up nuclear power for a considerable time?   
 

Offline imatfaal

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« Reply #16 on: 30/03/2011 11:07:48 »
Well France cannot switch (it's too heavily committed). I think any reluctance to continue with Nuclear power in the rest of Europe will be eased when prices go up, if/when we get brown/black-outs, and we have to spend even more money buying power off the French.  You cannot take 5-6 pct of a commodity out of an already demand driven market without severe price corrections - and frankly at the moment people cannot afford to pay much more.  We will talk a lot about safety and new procedures will be put in place but when push comes to shove we cannot afford to do without nuclear power. 

In perspective - the largest earthquake in Japan's History (and one of the largest globally recorded) and a 75 foot tsunami hit an aged and low-spec nuclear reaction and no one died immediately and it is looking possible that we can escape with little contamination; how does that equate with "extremely dangerous"?
 

Offline JP

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Will German voters eventually change their minds?
« Reply #17 on: 30/03/2011 13:06:09 »
It might.  Three Mile Island and Chernobyl both affected the rates at which nuclear reactors were built for a long time.  It all depends on the costs of producing power other ways.  I'm sure people will be wary, but probably not so wary once they feel a pinch on their pocketbooks.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Three_Mile_Island_accident#Effect_on_nuclear_power_industry
 

Offline Jolly- Joliver

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Will German voters eventually change their minds?
« Reply #18 on: 30/03/2011 13:23:33 »
No, its from the WHO. Why would data from Greenpeace be more reliable??

There's radioactive material in coal too you know, and this is all released in the exhaust from coal power plants. In addition to particulate matter which is estimated to cause many thousands of deaths per year. And approximately 12000 coal workers die per year in the mining.

So i'd say nuclear is a hell of a lot safer than coal.

Not the world health organisation they are in bed with, IEAE. You really think the U.N and it's many international bodies, like the IMF or World bank, are these great universal government bodies that are imparcial and unbiased?

Sorry they are not, all politics as always.
 

Offline JimBob

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Will German voters eventually change their minds?
« Reply #19 on: 02/04/2011 05:18:49 »
It isn't any of the reasons above as to why nuclear reactors cause problems - it is the problem of "nuclear waste."

Plutonium stays radiative enough to harm life for at least 400 Million years. ("The longest-lived [isotopes] are plutonium-244, with a half-life of 80.8 million years, plutonium-242, with a half-life of 373,300 years, and plutonium-239, with a half-life of 24,110 years. All of the remaining radioactive isotopes have half-lives that are less than 7,000 years." - Same Wikipedia source)

That means that plutonium - which rarely occurs in nature - is going to last on earth for a very, very long time. Naturally occurring plutonium oxides and halides are considered primordial compounds that were made only during the initial formation of the universe, about 14.5 Billion years ago. There is still some naturally occurring plutonium.

As a rector reacts (doh - what else would it do?) it produces more and more plutonium oxides & other compounds are formed. This produces MOX - mixed oxide plutonium. As the MOX accumulate in a reactor the rection increases in speed. If these roods are not taken out and put in a cooling pool it will eventually become critical and an explosion occurs. Nuclear engineers have recently taken advantage of the property and stated to design Fast nuclear reactors.

"Spent nuclear fuel from normal light water reactors contains Plutonium, but it is a mixture of Plutonium-242, 240, 239 and 238. The mixture is not sufficiently enriched for efficient nuclear weapons, but can be used once as MOX fuel. Accidental neutron capture causes the amount of Plutonium-242 and 240 to grow each time the Plutonium is irradiated in a reactor with low-speed "thermal" neutrons, so that after the second cycle, the Plutonium can only be consumed by fast neutron reactors. If fast neutron reactors are not available (the normal case), excess Plutonium is usually discarded, and forms the longest-lived component of nuclear waste. The desire to consume this Plutonium and other transuranic fuels and reduce the radiotoxicity of the waste is the usual reason nuclear engineers give to make fast neutron reactors." http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Plutonium

This is a huge problem because even moving this MOX is highly dangerous.

Until the project was shut down, Yucca Mountain was a fairly reasonable idea until it was over-abundantly clear there were too many faults in the area to guarantee isolation of the waste - The material would stay in place but water would carry secondary radiative material made around the buried waste to the surface or into the water table. The best way to let the plutonium cool IMHO is to isolate it in the deepest well that can be drilled into a salt dome. But that is hellaciously expensive. This stuff will be radioactive at dangerous levels to life for 500 million years and just dangerous if ingested regularly for billions of years.

What is as, perhaps, more dangerous is the reactor impact on the land. The mess made by the Hanford Nuclear Site reactor -  the first one of any scale which was built in the early '40's - left disaster in its wake. This plant site has contaminated a large area of Oregon along the Columbia River that is about the size Rhode Island. The US Gov spends about 2 Billion dollars a year trying to a.) contain & b.) clean up, the radioactivity.

The problems found at Hanford is repeated over and over again because of the dumb engineers who cannot get it through there heads that there is something called "geology." That means that plants are built along ocean coast or more often, along river banks. Every nuclear plant needs a way of cooling the reactor. Just running water through the reactor makes radioactive material that will remain in the environment long enough to be dangerous to some form of life. Bismuth, for example has a half life of 19 exayears (1.9×1019 years) billions of years older than the universe - which doesn't pose much danger to we mortals. BUT lithium does have a long enough half-life to be of concern. Yucca Mountain is located in the Nevada part of Great Basin, a series of mountain ranges separated by large dried up lake beds millions of years old. I am aware of a lake bed not very far from Yucca Mountain that has lithium brine in it due to the high amount of lithium concentrated in the lake bed by evaporation. The lithium for your batter may very well have come from another dried lake bed in Nevada. 

What does all of this last paragraph mean? We are disposing of nuclear wastes directly into to the oceans or we put it into cooling ponds where it can be concentrated and sink into our aquifers and/or then be discharged into rivers which become polluted.

The question that needs to be asked is exactly like this one "Do you want to fix the financial problems of our country now or leave it for your grand children."

We should ask ourselves:

"Do you want to deal with the nuclear waste now or do you want to leave it for another specie(s) that may or may not be less sentient??"

A final thought:

The cost of cleaning up Chernobyl was over a Million Pounds in 1993 and it took over 15 years. Two of the five reactors damaged are as bad as Chernobyl - having suffered partial meltdown. The cost to contain these two reactors alone is estimated to be over 40 Billion Dollars and total costs are over 200 billion. The task may not be completed in the lifetime of those on the forum who are over 55-60 years of age.

The cost of cleaning up and decommissioning plants already in use will be over several trillion dollars.

The rest of you will live with more of these accidents as these older nuclear plants fail or the newer ones give way for technical reasons.     

Do you really want to leave such a legacy?
« Last Edit: 02/04/2011 05:22:13 by JimBob »
 

Offline Geezer

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Will German voters eventually change their minds?
« Reply #20 on: 02/04/2011 05:57:34 »

The problems found at Hanford is repeated over and over again because of the dumb engineers who cannot get it through there heads that there is something called "geology."


Oooooo! So the Geologists can wash their lily white hands while the Engineers are thrown into the pit.

Why should I be surprised?

(What's keeping your lights on buddy?)
 

Offline Madidus_Scientia

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Will German voters eventually change their minds?
« Reply #21 on: 02/04/2011 10:25:14 »
Not the world health organisation they are in bed with, IEAE. You really think the U.N and it's many international bodies, like the IMF or World bank, are these great universal government bodies that are imparcial and unbiased?

Sorry they are not, all politics as always.

Yes, I think a collaboration of many bodies is more likely to be unbiased.

Do you think Greenpeace is unbiased? Their anti-nuclear stance is well known, which obviously makes their claims on this matter highly questionable.
 

Offline Madidus_Scientia

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Will German voters eventually change their minds?
« Reply #22 on: 02/04/2011 11:41:21 »
Do you really want to leave such a legacy?

I'd rather leave our future generations with some nuclear waste to deal with than global warming. Nuclear waste is simple to handle compared to the entire atmosphere.

Anyway, new reactor designs will produce insignificant amounts of waste, and we may even be able to recycle old nuclear waste to be rid of it entirely.

So we have already produced most of the nuclear waste that we ever will. Why stop new reactors from being built if they don't have the disadvantages of the old ones?
 

Offline JimBob

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« Reply #23 on: 02/04/2011 18:30:23 »
Do you really want to leave such a legacy?

I'd rather leave our future generations with some nuclear waste to deal with than global warming. Nuclear waste is simple to handle compared to the entire atmosphere.

Anyway, new reactor designs will produce insignificant amounts of waste, and we may even be able to recycle old nuclear waste to be rid of it entirely.

So we have already produced most of the nuclear waste that we ever will. Why stop new reactors from being built if they don't have the disadvantages of the old ones?

The problem with global warming is that we do not really know why it is is happening - although there is no doubt in my mind why the warming has excellerated: US HUMANS.

It was only 13,000 years ago that glaciation had frozen in the atlantic down to the middle of the UK & France &c.
 

Offline yor_on

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Will German voters eventually change their minds?
« Reply #24 on: 03/04/2011 05:13:05 »
Yep JB, the waste is a problem, and will continue to be so even when we made our Nuclear plants, ah, foolproof I think the word is. We have such an extensive knowledge of handling it now though. He* we've been doing it for over fifty years, even though we're running out of Countries to ship it too :) we surely can handle it for some meager ten thousands of years. I'm positive :) We've had new reactor designs for I don't know, twenty years, maybe more? Expected to reprocess used fuel rods, but none working, for one reason or another.

But I think you're wrong when saying that we don't know. We've always seen that new inventions, technologies, biological and chemical research can kill, and I think we regulate it pretty good. I think there is levels that we acknowledge, even though those might differ with our sociological and economical situation. So I think Germany will change its mind, if and when, the 'energy consumption' demands it. Personally I would like us to find alternative solutions that works, but that's will cost us some living standards in the short term, and also force a redistribution of wealth as I would expect such solutions to be placed where they were needed firstly. So the powers that be may not look at such solutions as beneficial to their stockholders, and them selves of course. And all good politicians knows where their masters are. The public is fickle, but power has a long memory.

It's a farce, although not that funny.
 

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