Re: Fusion and nuclear Power

From: Dr. Blake Nelson (
Date: Tue Sep 10 2002 - 14:05:24 EDT

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    Euratom or the EU recently did a study of the
    environmental and societal costs of different forms of
    power generation and the degree to which the industry
    carries the cost of those effects. I don't have any
    time to look this up, but I am sure it is somewhere on
    the internet, maybe at Euratom's website. Nuclear,
    with the fact that the generator has to pay for the
    cost of waste disposal, paid close to the actual
    environmental, health, etc. costs of the generation of
    power. Even natural gas did not come close to paying
    the costs -- it covered in the neighborhood of 50% of
    the environmental and societal costs. Coal, of
    course, is abyssmal in this regard.

    Nuclear would be far and away most cost-effective if
    the fossil fuel burners had to pay the true cost of
    cleaning up fly ash and other environmental impacts of
    fossil fuels. With the consolidation that has gone on
    in the ownership of nuclear plants, the US fleet has a
    pretty good safety record and excellent power
    performance over the last decade -- which is why
    despite higher demand for electricity and the
    decommissioning of some plants, nuclear has stayed
    steady at 20% of electric generation. The remaining
    plants stay close to full efficiency most of the time
    these days.

    The radioactive waste storage is less of an issue if
    reprocessing is done, which becomes an occupational
    safety and proliferation issue -- since what you have
    to dispose of has a relatively short half-life.
    Reprocessing, of course, was (is?) a political
    football in the US.

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