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[P]
Scandinavian rivalry?

By Cornelius in Op-Ed
Mon Apr 29, 2002 at 03:31:17 PM EST
Tags: Politics (all tags)
Politics

Since the 1970s, when the nuclear power plant "Barseback" was first built, it has been an debating point between Denmark and Sweden.

The plant is situated on the Swedish west coast approximately 25 kilometres from the Danish capital, Copenhagen. The Danes have repeatedly and with increasing force asked the Swedes to close the plant, while environmental concerns have mounted in Denmark.

Today it looks as if it never is going to be closed.


In a referendum, Sweden decided to abandon nuclear power, although no final date has been set. Recently Sydkraft, the company which owns the disputed power plant, decided to renovate the cooling system for $10 million. This incited new anger and criticism in Denmark. The Danes are upset by the Swedes' tardiness in closing down the plant.

To make matters worse, there is a formal agreement between the two countries that the plant should be disbanded "as soon as possible" (no fixed date, as far as I know). And to make matters worse the Swedish people's feelings about nuclear power appears to be shifting. More and more people have forgotten about Chernobyl, and more and more people see a more expensive energy bill in the future - an expense they don't care to increase. Furthermore, industry leader and other interests friendly of Swedish business have started complaining about the issue: "it isn't reasonable to abandon nuclear power yet, we have the most modern facilities in the world" they say.

In my own prejudiced mind it seems a ludicrous waste of resources to disband a modern nuclear plant, which has cost millions in tax money to build, just because the Danes have environmetal concerns. Especially, since the resulting Swedish energy deficit will be filled with Danish coal energy (which isn't too environmentally friendly either). If the Danes have such trouble with the nuclear plant - sorely needed by Swedish industry - the Danes could very well finance the shutdown themselves and be so kind as to sell their coal energy to Sweden at the same rate as nuclear power.

I don't want to inflame any Danisk K5ers, but on a more principal note: if I wanted somebody to do something for me, I wouldn't be too surprised if they charged me for it. So what do you say?

(Looking forward to any comment on this regional topic. Especially, if somebody knows about the fine print in the deal between the two countries.)

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Scandinavian rivalry? | 93 comments (51 topical, 42 editorial, 0 hidden)
Well (4.50 / 2) (#3)
by Betcour on Mon Apr 29, 2002 at 08:02:32 AM EST

As long as the plant safety is good and modern, there's no environement damages. A working nuclear plant mostly warms up a bit of water (used in the external cooling system), which can be used for heating in the nearby industries. The nuclear waste isn't released in the environement. The only plant who really blowed up and caused a mess was Tchernobyl, and that was because the security was low and there was no confinement shell (IANAS but quality nuclear plant have a dome which keeps radioactivity trapped if for anyreason the reactor leaks or blows)

Only one mess...? (2.50 / 2) (#13)
by erlando on Mon Apr 29, 2002 at 08:53:42 AM EST

The only plant who really blowed up and caused a mess was Tchernobyl
Hmm.. Let me see.. Three Mile Island? Sellafield (Windfield)? And what about these?

The question here is about the swedish double-standard - putting their nuclear powerplant far away from any large swedish city - nevermind that the danish capital is less than 25 kilometres away.

Also the swedish government had agreed to shut down the plant in 2003 for exactly this reason following lengthy negotiations with the danish government. Now they are renovating it for another 10 years of use...?

Nuclear power is clean as long as nothing goes wrong. If and when something goes wrong it's the most dangerous energy-source man has ever deviced. Furthermore the waste-products are almost impossible to store in an environmentally neutral way.

[ Parent ]

geography (5.00 / 2) (#21)
by dufke on Mon Apr 29, 2002 at 09:42:00 AM EST

putting their nuclear powerplant far away from any large swedish city

Now wait one moment. I happen to live within 100km of the plant in discussion. It might not be near Stockholm or Gothemburg, but Malmö (3:rd largest city in Sweden) is within line-of-sight of Barsebäck. (Trust me, I was there yesterday...) And it is located in Skåne, a quite densly populated area (relative to the rest of the country anyway).

Anyway, I agree with the story poster. I'd much rather live rigth next to this plant (which I do...), than near a coal plant. I lived two years in Prague, where they burn coal for heating. The air in the winter there... was not fun.

I'd like to think that I'd feel the same if the nuclear plant was in Denmark, and the coal in Sweden, but I'll never know that. I think both governments have double standards, Sweden has indeed (spupidly) promised to close the plant. But Denmark is also posed to profit from the shutdown, while arguably doing worse environmental damage themselves.
__
I am a Lurker. If you are reading this, I surfaced momentarily.
[ Parent ]

sleeping through lessons.. (none / 0) (#34)
by erlando on Mon Apr 29, 2002 at 10:37:53 AM EST

Sorry.. It would seem that I slept through that geography-lesson.. You are right of course. It still doesn't alter the argument that the plant is at best badly placed.

I must admit that I feel much safer living ~10 kilometres from a large coal-driven power-plant than I would if I lived 10 kilometres from a nuclear plant. At least I stand a good chance of surviving if the coal-driven plant blows up.

Comparing coal burnt for heating in no doubt unfiltered ovens to a modern coal-driven power-plant is in my eyes a bit steep.

But Denmark is also posed to profit from the shutdown
How so? Do you really think that we want the plant closed just so we can sell electricity to Sweden? Excuse me, but that's naive..
while arguably doing worse environmental damage themselves
Oh yes.. My favorite.. Nuclear power is so clean. Nevermind that the waste needs to be kept for a million years or more to be environmentally safe. At least with coal the "only" thing to worry about is CO2..

[ Parent ]
Re: skipping (5.00 / 1) (#45)
by dufke on Mon Apr 29, 2002 at 11:49:00 AM EST

At least I stand a good chance of surviving if the coal-driven plant blows up.

You think they will blow up? Chernobyl blew up... because both personell and equipment was horribly maintained. You think that is the case in Barsebäck? I don't. Especially as long as you keep the pressure on the operators to keep it safe, which I think both countries' people should do.

Comparing coal burnt for heating in no doubt unfiltered ovens to a modern coal-driven power-plant is in my eyes a bit steep.

In mine too, come to think about it. However, a large coal plant is hardly harmless either, even if it doesn't produce a visible (and smelly) smog.

How so? Do you really think that we want the plant closed just so we can sell electricity to Sweden? Excuse me, but that's naive..

Not ONLY, of course not, as litte as we want the danish coal plants shut down only to sell power to you. And I don't think the danish people are very interested in power selling at all. But I was talking about governments. I think both governments are guilty of playing the "our evil is less evil than their's" game, pandering to local opinion.

Nevermind that the waste needs to be kept for a million years or more to be environmentally safe. At least with coal the "only" thing to worry about is CO2..

Well, the waste problem is a problem with solutions. With burying, most of the problems are political (NIMBY you know), and some are engineering problems (safeguarding against groundwater contamination). Breeder reactors are unpopular because of what they breed - plutonium - and because people who don't like nuclear power generally think MORE reactors is not a solution.

I'm not so sure CO2 is the only problem with coal plants. Sure, with the ideal plant, fueled by the ideal fuel, it is. I'd be interested in some impartial statistics on what a modern coal plant exhausts.
__
I am a Lurker. If you are reading this, I surfaced momentarily.
[ Parent ]

Emissions from coal combustion (5.00 / 1) (#49)
by hatshepsut on Mon Apr 29, 2002 at 12:42:12 PM EST

The US EPA has a lot of information on emissions from natural gas, oil and coal combustion. Their website on emission factors is:

http://www.epa.gov/ttn/chief/ap42/index.html

(the link goes to an index of pdf's for the different types of combution equipment)

Coal combustion emissions SOx and NOx (acid rain), CO and CO2 (greenhouse gas), particulate (smog, health effects), dioxins and furans (toxic), polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons and other hydrocarbons (smog, health), hydrogen chloride and hydrogen fluoride, trace metals, etc.

Combustion of oil and natural gas also generates many of the same contaminants, but generally in lower amounts (especially the toxics).

[ Parent ]

well... that depends... (1.00 / 1) (#62)
by sasseriansection on Mon Apr 29, 2002 at 02:49:40 PM EST

How so? Do you really think that we want the plant closed just so we can sell electricity to Sweden? Excuse me, but that's naive..

If Bush was making the policy, then yes, I think the accusations would be flying left and right that it was purely profit motivated:).
------------ ------------
[ Parent ]

Only one mess. (none / 0) (#79)
by physicsgod on Tue Apr 30, 2002 at 12:14:48 AM EST

TMI did not result in any appreciable radiation release to the enviroment (the numbers I've seen range from a chest X-ray to nothing at all). Sellafield was nothing more that an alert at a reprocessing plant. And Greenpeace are rabid anti-nuke freaks with *zero* credibility.

The problem of Chernobyl was not just a lack of containment vessle, though that did contribute to the widespread contamination, it was a fundamentally flawed design. The RBMK-1000 at Chernobyl was a positive-void coeffecient reactor, meaning that the presence of steam increases the power output of the reactor, which in turn produces more steam, which increases power output..... You can see how that can get out of hand. Western reactor designs are all negative-void coeff. designs, which means any steam in the coolant system would reduce power output, letting the coolant cool and readsorb the steam. So while western reactors will be susceptable to operator error, they're much less likely to actually run away from the operators.

--- "Those not wearing body armor are hereby advised to keep their arguments on-topic" Schlock Mercenary
[ Parent ]

Nuclear Waste (3.00 / 2) (#14)
by Torako on Mon Apr 29, 2002 at 09:00:58 AM EST

It is true that while in operation nuclear plants are actually very clean, but the problem of what to do with the nuclear waste is a killer argument.

There is just no way to safely store that waste for as long as it would be necessary (that would be in the range of 1 million years, plus minus) and therefor nuclear fission energy is just not something we should use.

I don't want my future children and their children and so on to have to worry about what we did to their future environment.

Just my 2 pence

[ Parent ]

Reprocessing? (none / 0) (#19)
by leviramsey on Mon Apr 29, 2002 at 09:27:16 AM EST

I know the French have been reprocessing their nuclear wastes, taking out the long half-live stuff (plutonium) and (I'd presume) disposing of the shorter-half-life stuff (strontium, cesium, etc.).

I think Carter made a huge mistake in killing the US reprocessing program.



[ Parent ]
Force de Frappe... (5.00 / 1) (#29)
by Stealth Tuna on Mon Apr 29, 2002 at 10:15:58 AM EST

I know the French have been reprocessing their nuclear wastes, taking out the long half-live stuff (plutonium)

And i have a reasonably good idea of where the Pu is ending up...

[ Parent ]

There is one environmental effect (none / 0) (#87)
by epepke on Tue Apr 30, 2002 at 12:49:48 PM EST

Heat.

Large heat-engine power plants have a significant effect on the local weather (if air-cooled) or the mariculture (if water-cooled). It's generally a good idea to keep them away from large cities, which have a tendency to cause their own weather patterns anyway.

Since it's too damn cold in Scandanavia anyway, this might be a good thing. Just reminding people that, however otherwise clean a well maintained nuclear plant may be, Carnot is not mocked.


The truth may be out there, but lies are inside your head.--Terry Pratchett


[ Parent ]
Irish p*ssed at UK for same reason. (4.00 / 1) (#27)
by maroberts on Mon Apr 29, 2002 at 10:05:02 AM EST

In a similar agrument, the British have this nice little nuclear waste reprocessing plant at Sellafield (aka Windscale), which the UK goverment refuse to shut down on the grounds that it pretty much scuppers their entire nuclear power policy. This pisses off the Irish, who are concerned that the fish in the Irish Sea may start to glow in the dark, and the Norwegians, who have bad memories of Chernobyl.

This even went to a UN court, where the Irish failed to block expansion plans for Sellafield.
~~~
The greatest trick the Devil pulled was to convince the world he didn't exist -- Verbil Kint, The Usual Suspects

cutting on the bias (hoho) (5.00 / 1) (#74)
by kstop on Mon Apr 29, 2002 at 07:01:28 PM EST

it's worth pointing out that:
a) the reason the plant's name was changed was as a cynical PR exercise after a rash of accidents
b) there have been repeated studies linking it to cancer clusters on the Irish east coast
c) the Irish Sea is already the most radioactive in the world because of Sellafield
d) BNFL are more worried about loss of revenue from reprocessing waste from other countries than they are about the effect Sellafield's closure would have on the UK nuclear industry
e) a Chernobyl-level incident in Sellafield could render half of Ireland uninhabitable

While I'm sure we all respect Swedish engineering, the fact remains that if an accident did occur at the power plant in question, it would turn Copenhagen into a ghost town. Nuclear accidents do happen, and you can be damn sure there isn't a plant that close to Stockholm,

[ Parent ]
Ummm... (none / 0) (#75)
by maroberts on Mon Apr 29, 2002 at 07:12:19 PM EST

..trying to decide if you *really* thought my comment was biased [I tried to take the piss out of the British, irish and norwegians at the same time, and I'nm not sure it worked]
~~~
The greatest trick the Devil pulled was to convince the world he didn't exist -- Verbil Kint, The Usual Suspects
[ Parent ]
nope (none / 0) (#82)
by kstop on Tue Apr 30, 2002 at 05:21:00 AM EST

I'm just exposing my own bias, more because I don't think the issue should be trivialised than anything else. Of course, that could be because I currently live in Dublin.

[ Parent ]
P*ssed at the UK (none / 0) (#91)
by rolandk on Wed May 01, 2002 at 04:59:19 AM EST

> This pisses off ... the Norwegians, who have bad memories of Chernobyl.

The memories from Chernobyl is not as bad as they could have been (thanks to a lucky strike in wind direction).

We're just so damn tired of getting all that technetium in our fish.

Anyone who defends Sellafield as a part of being general pro-nuclear, I dare to put their teeth into the sheep that graze nearby, or drink the ground water...

See e.g.:
http://www.hanfordwatch.org/archive/sellafield.htm
http://home.acadia.net/cbm/Rad8d.html

[ Parent ]

Barseback Two until 2017 (4.00 / 1) (#35)
by cem on Mon Apr 29, 2002 at 10:38:19 AM EST

As far as I understand Barseback One is closed and Barseback Two will be in operation until maximum 2017. More is here. You will also find a little bit of fineprint in that article.


Young Tarzan: I'll be the best ape ever!
Oops (none / 0) (#37)
by cem on Mon Apr 29, 2002 at 10:43:01 AM EST

I correct my sentence: "Barseback Two will be in operation at least until 2017".


Young Tarzan: I'll be the best ape ever!
[ Parent ]
Barsebäck One re-opening (none / 0) (#61)
by erlando on Mon Apr 29, 2002 at 02:26:32 PM EST

A lot of swedish conservative politicians are supposedly wanting to re-open Barsebäck One after the coming re-modernisation. That's part of the danish complaint.

[ Parent ]
Remuneration (4.00 / 1) (#39)
by bobpence on Mon Apr 29, 2002 at 10:59:16 AM EST

if I wanted somebody to do something for me, I wouldn't be too surprised if they charged me for it.

Just because I object to my neighbor building a chicken coop, does not mean I am obligated to buy eggs for him. But if he is properly zoned and licensed, and deals with waste, odor, and noise issues according to generally accepted practices, I have no good reason to complain - unless I feel that there should not be chicken coops anywhere.

Both by trade agreements and by custom, Scandanavia is often viewed as a single domestic market, so it should not be as hairy as many cross-border situations. The closeness to Copenhagen is just a diversion for those who feel that there should not be nuclear power plants anywhere. Given the relatively safe record of nuclear power, especially in Western Europe, the onus is on the objectors to find a better source of eggs.
"Interesting. No wait, the other thing: tedious." - Bender

Re: Renumeration (none / 0) (#42)
by khallow on Mon Apr 29, 2002 at 11:37:02 AM EST

Has the city of Copenhagen been compensated for the presence of a nearby nuclear plant? If the plant was put in with agreement from Denmark in the first place, then renumeration is an issue. Otherwise, Sweden was imposing external costs on Denmark. Closing the plant might be fair compensation for those costs.

Stating the obvious since 1969.
[ Parent ]

No doubt (none / 0) (#60)
by bobpence on Mon Apr 29, 2002 at 02:19:02 PM EST

There have been payments to the public safety agencies for developing and maintaining any civil evacuation plans. That would only be routine.

The author was suggesting that Denmark should pay Sweden to remove the plant. The issue quickly centers on whether one supports nuclear power.

If nukes are innately bad, then Denmark's request to shut down the plant should be honored. If nukes are not innately bad, then Sweden's only obligation is to run the plant safely, barring any border-area agreements between the two nations.

Generally it is considered polite to your nuclear plants inland, but the may be no, ahem, controlling legal authority. Maybe there is a local zoning board somewhere, in which case Sweden had better only build nuclear plants at least 25 feet back from the property line.
"Interesting. No wait, the other thing: tedious." - Bender
[ Parent ]

Insurance fund at least (none / 0) (#77)
by khallow on Mon Apr 29, 2002 at 10:26:00 PM EST

At least the plant should have insurance - which it probably does. There may be other factors like decline in property values, but I don't think Denmark has a case there.

Stating the obvious since 1969.
[ Parent ]

Why there? (4.00 / 1) (#41)
by Friede on Mon Apr 29, 2002 at 11:20:20 AM EST

In my own prejudiced mind it seems a ludicrous waste of resources to disband a modern nuclear plant, which has cost millions in tax money to build...

Ummh, yeah, but why build it only 25 km from the Danish capital in the first place? (That's about 15 miles for the metrically challenged) I mean that's asking for trouble, isn't it? Couldn't they have built the damn thing somewhere 200 or 300 km up the coastline?

true, but beside the point (none / 0) (#47)
by klamath on Mon Apr 29, 2002 at 12:02:15 PM EST

Ummh, yeah, but why build it only 25 km from the Danish capital in the first place?
That's certainly true, and in retrospect it would probably have been a much better idea to build the plant in another location. However, that really has no bearing on the current situation -- I doubt very much whether it is feasible to move an entire nuclear power plant from one location to another. Therefore, the location can't be changed, it's just a matter of what should be done next.

There's no use crying over spilt milk, as they say...

[ Parent ]

Because it was close to Copenhagen! (4.00 / 1) (#78)
by d2ksla on Mon Apr 29, 2002 at 11:48:59 PM EST

Ummh, yeah, but why build it only 25 km from the Danish capital in the first place? (That's about 15 miles for the metrically challenged) I mean that's asking for trouble, isn't it? Couldn't they have built the damn thing somewhere 200 or 300 km up the coastline?

Building it 200 km up the coast would have placed it pretty much exactly at Ringhals, where another nuclear plant is located, in the vicinity of the large Swedish city Gothenburg.

Apparently the reason for building the plant at Barsebäck was because it is close to both Malmö and Copenhagen, for easy distribution of power (electrical, not political). Supposedly Barsebäck was the first in a series of nuclear plants to be built, alternating between Sweden and Denmark.

Then people changed their minds about nuclear power, which is fine, but when it was built it wasn't actually "asking for trouble" in the same way it'd seem today.

[ Parent ]
Hello? McFly? (5.00 / 7) (#46)
by thelizman on Mon Apr 29, 2002 at 12:00:29 PM EST

The plant is situated on the Swedish west coast approximately 25 kilometres from the Danish capital, Copenhagen. The Danes have repeatedly and with increasing force asked the Swedes to close the plant, while environmental concerns have mounted in Denmark.

So, please let me understand this...The Danes are pissed at the Swedes for having an ultra modern, well maintained, emission free Nuclear power plant 25 miles from their capital city. As a solution, they want the plant decomissioned so that that it can fall into disrepair, neglect,and eventually leak radioactive coolant and contaminated debris into the environment. Meanwhile, the Swedes will then have to build conventional oil and coal fired plants to match the production capacity of the Nuclear plant. Having lived downwind of a coal fired power plant (width deisel reserve generators), I can tell you I'd rather see those beautiful stacks belching steam any day as opposed to having to wash the soot off my car, and buying a lung brush.

Thank god for the common sense of the average norde...
--

"Our language is sufficiently clumsy enough to allow us to believe foolish things." - George Orwell
Norwegians no more sensible (none / 0) (#48)
by maroberts on Mon Apr 29, 2002 at 12:13:05 PM EST

...they don't like the UK one at Sellafield....



~~~
The greatest trick the Devil pulled was to convince the world he didn't exist -- Verbil Kint, The Usual Suspects
[ Parent ]
Sellafield (none / 0) (#54)
by rde on Mon Apr 29, 2002 at 01:22:30 PM EST

Over here in Ireland, we're not too delighted by sellafield either. The Irish see is increasingly contaminated; the UK government assures us that there's no problem despite all evidence to the contrary.

[ Parent ]
Look further down the comments... (none / 0) (#57)
by maroberts on Mon Apr 29, 2002 at 01:41:09 PM EST

...and you'll find I said exactly the same thing here!! ;-P
~~~
The greatest trick the Devil pulled was to convince the world he didn't exist -- Verbil Kint, The Usual Suspects
[ Parent ]
On the contrary ... (none / 0) (#92)
by vrai on Wed May 01, 2002 at 06:02:15 AM EST

The Irish see is increasingly contaminated; the UK government assures us that there's no problem despite all evidence to the contrary.

The UK government know exactly how polluting it is, but they don't care. To be honest neither do I, I live many miles from Cumbria (and upwind) but get cheap electricity - a win-win situation if you will. The French have placed reactors along their northern coast but its very rare that anyone in the UK complains about it. Basically the Irish and Norwegian governments have three options:

  1. Convince the UK to shutdown Sellafield. Perhaps paying for a new reactor somewhere else would do it but I haven't seen this offered.
  2. Invade the UK and shutdown the reactor themselves. Not really an option given the countries involved.
  3. Get over it. My favourite option but one that seems to have been overlooked in favour of constant whining.

If the UK or Sweden or France or North Korea wish to build (or continue to run) a nuclear reactor on their own territory then that's their right. If their neighbours don't like it then they can pay for the reactor to be built somewhere else.

[ Parent ]

Yeah, that's just about it (5.00 / 1) (#65)
by Jevesus on Mon Apr 29, 2002 at 03:15:45 PM EST

The shutdown of all nuclear power plants was decided on during the seventies (correct me if I'm wrong, fellow Scandinavians). Today, thirty years later, Swedes are obviously more informed and more is known on the topic of dismantling nuclear power plants and thus the public opinion don't exactly agree wholeheartedly with the decision. Especially when, as noted, the alternative would be to buy offshore power based in coal plants.

I'm a Swede myself, and, if another public vote were to be taken on the subject I would vote to not close down the nuclear plants, given that they are the most advanced of their kind in the world.

- Jevesus
[ Parent ]
Swedish humour (none / 0) (#80)
by kraft on Tue Apr 30, 2002 at 03:22:11 AM EST

As a Dane who lived in Copenhagen for nearly 5 years, I have always considered the Swedes decision of building a nuclear powerplant next door as an expression of Swedish humour.

Did you look at a map of Sweden recently? The country is gigantic for European standards, and they place a powerplant next to their neighboor's capital and biggest city, and their own third largest city at a time when nuclear power was still young and the public opinion in the post-hippie days was overwhelmingly critical.

Just 20 kilometers! Sweden has a population density of 19/km2 and they place right in the most densely populated area in Scandinavia.

Yes, I think they made a big mistake with the location. However, living in Copenhagen I never once worried about the plant. I have no worries that the Swedes might not be handling the plant properly (but some do).

--
a signature has the format "dash-dash-newline-text". dammit.
[ Parent ]
Well... (none / 0) (#89)
by JanneM on Tue Apr 30, 2002 at 05:43:22 PM EST

The thing is of course that you want to have a power plant as close to the customers as you can. Sure, all the nuclear power plants could have been placed along the coast of Norrland, but the energy losses from transporting the energy where it is used would have necessitated building quite a few more plants than the twelve we have today.

You have the same problem no matter what technology you use for roduction, wether it is fission, coal, oil, wind or what have you. They all impact negatively on some of the very same residents that use the power generated from them. For my part, I'd rather have a nuclear power plant next door than a combusation-based one.

 
---
Trust the Computer. The Computer is your friend.
[ Parent ]

Reprocessing problems (none / 0) (#50)
by Torako on Mon Apr 29, 2002 at 12:49:54 PM EST

Well, reprocessing is possible, but there are three things about it that bother me:

1) It's dangerous, because they can't reprocess 100% of the nuclear material, so there still is highly radioactive waste that has to be put away somewhere.

2) It introduces another step of processing at which dangerous accidents can happen

3) You can only reprocess nuclear material so many times before you still end up to have store it permanently.

Heh (3.80 / 5) (#66)
by trhurler on Mon Apr 29, 2002 at 03:57:03 PM EST

The appropriate response, provided the plant is properly maintained and procedures properly followed(remember that neither was true at Chernobyl, and the design was horrible to start with,) is quite simple. It goes like this:

Fuck off and die. Thanks.

Nuclear power, despite its problems, is by far the cleanest and safest power we presently have available on a practical scale and at practical cost. That it is imperfect and that there are problems to solve do not change anything; if anything, they're research opportunities for materials and geology students. The notion of going to coal plants to replace nuclear plants for environmental reasons is so silly that I'm amazed even European types would do it.

--
'God dammit, your posts make me hard.' --LilDebbie

Like Americans are wiser? (none / 0) (#68)
by Jevesus on Mon Apr 29, 2002 at 04:09:20 PM EST

"The notion of going to coal plants to replace nuclear plants for environmental reasons is so silly that I'm amazed even European types would do it."

Now, what was that thing with Bush and coal plants again?

- Jevesus
[ Parent ]
Well, (none / 0) (#70)
by trhurler on Mon Apr 29, 2002 at 04:41:11 PM EST

I'm sure Bush would build nuke plants, if the Sierra Club's militant ALF and ELF (oops, I mean, those "independent terrorist organizations,") would agree not to blow up the White House in retaliation. Ecofreaks are killing nuclear power, but at least here in the US, they aren't begging for coal instead.

--
'God dammit, your posts make me hard.' --LilDebbie

[ Parent ]
Who is here? (none / 0) (#86)
by Jevesus on Tue Apr 30, 2002 at 09:43:20 AM EST

Noone I know of are begging for coal instead here, either. However, after the energy deficit Sweden will have to import power, from Denmark among others, including coal plants.

However, Sweden wouldn't, even during happy hours, stake out a coal plant plan..

- Jevesus
[ Parent ]

nuclear misconceptions (4.50 / 4) (#69)
by spacemoose on Mon Apr 29, 2002 at 04:26:49 PM EST

Well, I'm probably taking this post too seriously, but let me dissect your post and illustrate why I'm moderating it down as flamebait:

Nuclear power, despite its problems, is by far the cleanest and safest power we presently have available on a practical scale and at practical cost.
This is essentially an unfounded statement of opinion. "safest power": What does this mean in this context? What are the risks inherent in say hydroelectric power? Coal Power? How do you compare the two? Remember to choose your units carefully. I will however agree with you that risk of catastrophe is no reason to discard nuclear power. There are far better reasons.

"cleanest". Well that's a fallacy. Again it depends on the units you are using to measure "clean". If you are measuring in grams of pollutants, you are correct. If you are measuring in some unit that is a bit indicative of environmental impact, say for example toxicity * mass of toxins * lifetime, nuclear power weighs in very poorly indeed. Additionally, when measuring polutants produced by nuclear power, industry typically only cites that produced by the power plant itself. In fact, a great deal of pollutants are produced in the production of the high grade uranium ore used in the reactors. Often though the initial processing of these materials takes place in third world countries where only poor darkies are being affected, so we choose to ignore it (this is typical policy).

...reasons is so silly that I'm amazed even European types would do it.
This is insulting, uncalled for (you think america makes better policy decisions/debates?), and only hurts your credibility.

incendtally, you didn't mention cost, which is good. The only reason cost of nuclear power appears so cheap is because the bulk of the cost inherent in running a nuclear power plant is never directly accounted for by the power plant revenue. In fact, we have huge amounts of waste we have yet to dispose of, let alone safely. And then there's all that waste we just send of to third world countries. A solution yes...

But as an illustration, let's talk about what happens to a plant after it's lifetime expires: A modern NPP can survive on the order of fifty years as a functional entity. After that point the materials contained in the plant are too degraded from radiation to be safe any longer (concrete gets spongy for example). Then the only thing to do is fill it in with concrete, put barbed wire around the land, and never let anyone use it again for many many many generations to come.

Figure out how much that land would rent for, calculate the cost out over 10,000 years. Cheap? My Ass. The only reason it's cheap is it's out descendants who are paying for it.

[ Parent ]

Bah (5.00 / 2) (#71)
by trhurler on Mon Apr 29, 2002 at 05:01:45 PM EST

First off, flamebait is something you mod UP, not down; flames are the only time a good discussion ever gets going around here, after all.

Second, "safest power" was not my only qualifier. Nuclear power is the safest practical option for really large scale deployment. Theoretically, we could build huge geothermal and wave powered generators; the problem is, the cost is absurd. The only other practical large scale system is coal. A properly run modern fission reactor with appropriate upkeep(none of these qualifiers applies to any of the nuclear power incidents we've ever had,) simply does not fail in any dangerous way, and its emissions are steam which is cleaner radiologically speaking than a brick building. Coal doesn't meet these criteria. Not even close. Living next to a coal plant is like living in a room with a hundred smokers constantly puffing away. That's not "safe."

You could argue with "safest" by talking about waste, but the truth is that waste is an economic problem; spend enough money on it, and it goes away. All the lies spread by ecoweenies to the contrary are absurd; you mix it in with enough other material, and the ambient radiation from the result is irrelevantly small. The reason it isn't being discussed this way is because people are so terrified of this solution that it is unviable - and they're terrified because the ecoweenies work hard to MAKE them terrified(mainly by keeping them ignorant and limiting educational campaigns to baseless smear tactics.)
If you are measuring in some unit that is a bit indicative of environmental impact, say for example toxicity * mass of toxins * lifetime, nuclear power weighs in very poorly indeed.
Compared to what, exactly? Certainly not coal. The only reason coal is allowed to continue is that the emissions occur over such a long time that the impact isn't seen as clearly.
This is insulting, uncalled for (you think america makes better policy decisions/debates?), and only hurts your credibility.
Sometimes I think the US does a better job, and sometimes not. We've certainly got fewer activists who think the way to get their point across is violence and destruction or threats thereof.
But as an illustration, let's talk about what happens to a plant after it's lifetime expires: A modern NPP can survive on the order of fifty years as a functional entity. After that point the materials contained in the plant are too degraded from radiation to be safe any longer (concrete gets spongy for example). Then the only thing to do is fill it in with concrete, put barbed wire around the land, and never let anyone use it again for many many many generations to come.
Or maybe clean it up. That's not as hard as people seem to think, and the cost, while not cheap, is a lot cheaper than what you're suggesting in the long run. Also, there are reactor designs that are more sustainable than this.

Incidentally, you call me out for flamebait, then insist that the only way to do nuclear power is to "screw the darkies?" Yeah. Maybe your sense of reality is a bit skewed.

--
'God dammit, your posts make me hard.' --LilDebbie

[ Parent ]
I dunno (2.00 / 1) (#72)
by broken77 on Mon Apr 29, 2002 at 05:22:39 PM EST

you mix it in with enough other material, and the ambient radiation from the result is irrelevantly small
I find it hard to believe that the Yucca mountain issue would even exist if this were the case. If we could dispose of radioactive waste already, why don't we? And no, the term "ecoweenie" doesn't explain away the situation. And in that vein, I can't imagine all the ecoweenies would be lying, trying to cover up any valuable research or ideas that prove what you're suggesting. Why would they? What do they have to gain from it? They certainly don't gain financially, which the proponents of nuclear power certainly do. If anyone has a greater incentive to distort the facts, surely it's them and their buddies (and then there's the followers who believe everything they tell 'em). I just find your "simple" explanation of this supposedly major problem a little too... well... simple. I don't buy it.

I'm starting to doubt all this happy propaganda about Islam being a religion of peace. Heck, it's just as bad as Christianity. -- Dphitz
[ Parent ]

Look at it this way (5.00 / 1) (#73)
by trhurler on Mon Apr 29, 2002 at 05:40:44 PM EST

The whole process of obtaining the stuff in the first place consists, more or less, of separating it from other materials in a centrifuge. The end products aren't the same as the fuel, but in general, if you plan for it, you can end up with material no worse than the fuel you started with. So, mix it back in with lots and lots of rock. It costs money, but not as much as most other proposed solutions. The two things that have killed it so far are:

First, the popular fiction that nuclear fuel is somehow "created" and that nothing that radioactive exists in nature. Of course it does; all we do is separate it. It can be unseparated, and the result would be no more or less safe than the original.

Second, the fact that it is perceived as costly. This is true, but it is not as costly as many proposed alternatives; have you looked at the price tag on the Yucca Mountain site?

In addition, people worry about where to put this stuff. I have a fine notion here. After remixing it, why not dump it into mile-plus deep mineshafts? Contrary to popular paranoia, as long as you don't have an active volcano nearby, it isn't just going to come upward magically. Seismic activity might disrupt it some, but it isn't going to suddenly bring it up and mix it with the local reservoir, and even if it did, the fact is, material just as radioactive is already down there.

The mixing process isn't hard to envison either, though it would create its own cleanup problems and probably require an automated plant for safety reasons. Dry, crush, mix; very much an inverse of the separation process, really. The cleanup of the cleanup plant wouldn't be something you'd have to do often, as the amount of fuel from the world over really isn't that huge; remember that reactors have long lifetimes and only generate waste at large intervals. With appropriate consideration in the plant design, it ought to be pretty easy to hose the whole thing into a big tank, then dry the results and run them through the plant again. (In fact, such proposals have been made - and ignored, mainly for political reasons as far as I can tell.)

Basically, the problem of nuclear power is NIMBYism.

--
'God dammit, your posts make me hard.' --LilDebbie

[ Parent ]
Don't ask me, but that is how it is (none / 0) (#85)
by moeffju on Tue Apr 30, 2002 at 05:55:36 AM EST

I mentioned the new type of reactor (which in fact is not-so-new any more). It has been proven in principle and in praxi, but now the only reactor of this type is being shut down by the Greens, and no others are allowed to be built.

What do they gain from it? Well, they told their fellowship "no more nuclear power". This is an ideological thing - hard arguments, like, "this is clean, safe and cheap, and it can re-use the burnt-out fuel" don't get through, apparently.

I don't like such people who stupidly follow ideologies. Unfortunately, many of the Greens seem to be such types.

[ Parent ]

re: coal, and some solar news (4.00 / 1) (#76)
by HalfFlat on Mon Apr 29, 2002 at 07:17:30 PM EST

Theoretically, we could build huge geothermal and wave powered generators; the problem is, the cost is absurd. The only other practical large scale system is coal.
There is another mainstream alternative in use, which is natural gas. Much much cleaner than coal, though of course it has all the associated CO_2 and limited resources problems that coal does.

Coal is just horrid - much worse than nuclear energy even considering the nuclear accidents that have occured. Part of this is of course because coal is more widely used than nuclear energy, but I do believe most people don't realise how dirty and radioactive the emissions from coal-burning power stations really are.

There is an interesting new way of extracting solar energy that looks promising, and should scale moderately well while remaining simple and (relatively) cheap. The solar tower planned to be built near Mildura in Australia has a construction cost comparable to that of a similar capacity coal fired power station, while of course having much less impact on the wider environment, and being cheaper to run. The peak capacity is said to be 200MW, with a mean of 80MW. More details can be found here. There is also Enviromission's web site, which probably has more information, but requires flash.



[ Parent ]
Well, you are wrong. (none / 0) (#84)
by moeffju on Tue Apr 30, 2002 at 05:51:47 AM EST

Safest Power: The risk with coal power is the great amount of (also radioactive) emissions. Not clean. Coal Power bad. The risk with hydroelectric plants is that you slow a river down a bit and in the process also kill some fish etc. Hydroelectrics bad. Tidal: All "good spots" have been used by now. Ok otherwise. Geothermal: Cooling random regions of the earth may have effects that are a lot worse than some nuclear waste deposited safely. Wind power hurts birds, it's loud, and it cannot produce enough energy. Besides, there have been signs that big wind farms could indeed change the winds. Wind power bad. Solar Power would be ok, but it's expensive to do and you need lots of space. There have been some promising experiments, tho. Solar Power is ok. I like the idea of coating the moon in solar panels and microwaving the power to earth, though it reminds me of Sim City.

Also, most people think of Chernobyl when they hear "nuclear power". There is a lot of new technologies, much safer than Chernobyl. In fact, there is a prototype reactor in Germany that cannot only re-use burnt-out nuclear fuel from older plants, but which also cannot melt down. The re-processed fuel also has a half-life of only few hundred years, compared to some thousands. I'd gladly take such a plant into my neighbourhood, unfortunately the German government is blocking this (old by now, but still good) technology. Blame the Greens.

Cleanest: As said before, that new reactor type does not need such super-high-grade Uranium. There goes that argument. I still blame our Greens.

Cheapest? Nuclear power is not really cheap at the moment, coal is much cheaper. That is mostly because there are not so many nuclear plants deployed at the moment, which I think is unfortunate. I have to agree with trhurler here:

Nuclear power IS the safest, cleanest and cheapest source of power we have. (I can't wait till Fusion comes around, though.)

[ Parent ]

Americans vs Europeans Environmental Friendlyness (none / 0) (#93)
by rung on Thu May 02, 2002 at 08:11:36 AM EST

I agree wholeheartedly that nuclear power currently has no viable alternatives, but am rather offended by your comment: "The notion of going to coal plants to replace nuclear plants for environmental reasons is so silly that I'm amazed even European types would do it." Are you suggesting us Europeans are stupid? Or less environmentally friendly? If you're suggesting the former, there is little I can say except that I guess it is an opinion many Europeans have about Americans too. I have yet to see any evidence that one group is stupider than the other. If you're suggesting the latter, it is simply untrue. Most European countries (certainly western european ones) have far stricter environmental laws than the US, and if I remember correctly it was your fine (barf) president who abandoned the Kyoto agreement for 'economic' reasons. It seems to me you're looking to be flamed, posting comments like that...

[ Parent ]
Similar situation over here. (none / 0) (#81)
by Koo on Tue Apr 30, 2002 at 03:49:10 AM EST

There is a similar dispute between Czech republic and Austria right now.

A nuclear powerplant is situated in Temelin (about 60 km from the Austrian border).
There is a strong opposition in austrian parliament against this powerplant.
Recently the infamous american lawyer Ed Fagan got involved.

Really nasty dispute...

What's the big deal? (none / 0) (#88)
by RofGilead on Tue Apr 30, 2002 at 02:31:16 PM EST

 I've seen alot of comments defending the nuclear plant.  Benefits are cheap power, that is clean with exception of a minimal amount of very dangerous waste.  Problems are the minimal amount of very dangerous waste.  
 I've seen alot of people then compare the nuclear plant to coal plants, polution-wise.  Yes, the nuclear plant is ALOT cleaner than a coal plant would be(or plants) producing the same amount of power.
 Don't all these options suck?  You, me, or a hospital could easily lose all power in the event of a war, where the plant got destroyed.  Yes, nuclear is clean, but it is a big risk tactically.  
 What our countries should be doing now that it is feasible, is encouraging the building of personal electrical generators.  These generators should be clean, and produce enough power for the owner, and possibly have a little extra to donate to the grid that others could use.  Options include solar, thermal, and wind sources.  Solar is the most practical, as it can be used in the majority of environments.

 I don't know about you, but I would have alot more trust in the system, and happiness overall if all the houses on my street produced their own power from the sun.  The power network would then truly be a redundant network.  Of course, no one will lobby for distributed power!  It is the only idea that makes sense, however.

-= RofGilead =-

---
Remember, you're unique, just like everyone else. -BlueOregon

Some added complexities (5.00 / 1) (#90)
by JanneM on Tue Apr 30, 2002 at 05:52:34 PM EST

The current government does want to shut down Barsebäck; it is a coalition government, and it could fall apart if it didn't work on this issue. The problem is that the power plant is not state owned, but owned by a private energy corporation. This naturally greatly limits the actions that can be taken by the government; they can't outlaw that one plant while allowing other nuclear plants to continue operating, as it would be seen as unfair (in the legal sense) and possibly even as market rigging. Safety concerns are not a sufficient argument either, as, again, other plants are situated in just as sensitive areas, and yet aren't asked to be shut down.

Instead, for the past couple of years, the Swedish government and the energy corporation have been playing a game of chicken, trying to hammer out a deal that will compensate the corp for losing one of its plants without making a troublesome legal precedent for the government or the energy industry.

 
---
Trust the Computer. The Computer is your friend.

Scandinavian rivalry? | 93 comments (51 topical, 42 editorial, 0 hidden)
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