I. France Says Yes to Nuclear
Among some Americans, France is derided and the bunt of jokes. Such
attitudes arose after the Americans helped an occupied France with two World
Wars. However, most of those Americans fail to realize that the American Revolution
would likely have failed, had it not been for French intervention.
France has long been a strong independent nation, and it's been showing it of
late. For example, when the U.S. was wavering on whether to launch airstrikes when Libya's
dictator was slaughtering civilians, France acted first, sending in fighter jets and bombers to
the region and taking matters into their own hands. (The U.S. would later get fully involved.)
Now France has made perhaps its boldest move yet, throwing its support yet
again solidly behind nuclear power.
Back in America, President Barack Obama has backed off of plans to promote new
nuclear plants in the face of public nuclear paranoia, following the meltdown
at Japan's tsunami-struck Fukushima reactors.
Most members of the public know little about nuclear plants -- they don't know
that the Fukushima reactor was negligently designed (surveys reported the area
had a 10 percent chance per decade of flooding, yet the generators weren't
waterproofed); they don't know that Fukushima's reactors were nearly 40 years
old and were being decommissioned; and they don't know that modern reactors
cool down much faster and have superior automated safety systems, reducing the
possibility of a meltdown substantially. In short, for all the fear there is little "facts" about nuclear power and what few "facts" there are, are hard to
distinguish from for-profit sensationalism.
II. European Nation Refuses to Let Itself Fall Victim to Paranoia,
Fortunately while American politicians are too weak and afraid to resoundingly
back nuclear power, France's leadership is stepping up to the plate. The
nation announced it would be spending €1B ($1.43B USD) to move forward
with plans to design and build cutting edge Generation IV reactor.
Speaking to the press, French President Nicolas Sarkozy asserted, "There
is no alternative to nuclear energy today," he told journalists on Monday.
We are going to devote €1B to the nuclear program of the future, particularly
The stand President Sarkozy is taking is brave one, as he's challenging the
sentiments of many of his constituents. Just this month protesters formed
a human chain around the nation's oldest nuclear plant in the city of
Fessenheim. Located in the German-bordering province of Alsace, the plant
has been open for 34 years.
And President Sarkozy is not only challenging his voters. He's
challenging his colleagues in the European Union as well.
Germany's Prime Minister Angela Merkel announced her intention to cut and run
from nuclear power. The nation's 17 nuclear reactors, which provide 40
percent of its power, would be lost in the retreat. A defeated Merkel,
placated, "We want to end the use of nuclear energy and reach the age of
renewable energy as fast as possible."
President Sarkozy say that the difference between France and its peers isn't
merely its commitment to nuclear, but the effort it puts in the technology.
He states, "Our power stations are more expensive because they are
In the wake of Fukushima, France has been conducting rigorous audits to confirm
that all of its nuclear reactors are up to par and that there's no safety gaps
The shift to Generation IV reactors such as thorium molten salt reactors, or
pebble bed reactors will greatly increase safety as most Generation IV designs
are incapable of melting down. The new reactors also produce far less
waste by recycling byproducts, and produce more clean energy.
III. Where's American Bravery Now?
To be fair others have tried to push the issue of nuclear power in Europe.
Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi tried to push voters to approve his nation's first restart of nuclear power since the 1980s. The vote failed by a
resounding 94 percent.
Back here in America, at least the President hasn't proposed sounding the
retreat on nuclear like Germany has. But nary a word has left his mouth
about new plants, even as the nation prepares to retire older reactors and spends massively on more expensive alternative energy sources.
It's easy to blame Barack Obama, blame Congress, or blame someone else for the
fact that America lacks the logic and guts to back nuclear power -- the
cleanest, cheapest, and safest current energy source if applied correctly.
But at the end of the day you can only put the blame on others for so long.
If the majority of Americans were truly as brave as France's president -- willing to
tell the naysayers, "Be damned, we're going to support great
engineering" -- then they would vote obstructionist politicians out of
If they don't, they can only blame themselves and their countrymen.
American is a nation with a history of innovative engineering, without question. After all, it was America that essentially invented both the atomic bomb and the nuclear reactor. Today, though, the nation is faltering in its leadership role. Its politicians are silent. There
are no cries for Generation IV reactors. We're unlikely to see such
reactors on American soil anytime soon. So the next time somebody cracks
a joke at the expense of the French, don't laugh -- because the joke's on us
quote: Risks from reactor accidents are estimated by the rapidly developing science of "probabilistic risk analysis" (PRA). A PRA must be done separately for each power plant (at a cost of $5 million) but we give typical results here: A fuel melt-down might be expected once in 20,000 years of reactor operation. In 2 out of 3 melt-downs there would be no deaths, in 1 out of 5 there would be over 1000 deaths, and in 1 out of 100,000 there would be 50,000 deaths. The average for all meltdowns would be 400 deaths. Since air pollution from coal burning is estimated to be causing 10,000 deaths per year, there would have to be 25 melt-downs each year for nuclear power to be as dangerous as coal burning.
quote: I'd just shoot myself
quote: You are an IDIOT. The nuclear danger has NOTHING to do with steam and mechanical injury/deaths. RADIATION MUTHA FUCKA!
quote: Funny; why have we had 4 meltdowns in just over 50 years of operation, one of which has been attributed to deaths of several thousand, and three whos human cost is yet undetermined.
quote: What we need to do is start building new, much safer nuclear plants to replace the 40+ year old nuclear plants and finally build a safe place to store the nuclear waste instead of storing it at the plants.
quote: and only works when the sun is shining.
quote: Meanwhile, Solar is up to 30% efficiency now, which is competitive efficiency wise with everything else out there.
quote: You can tout "safety measures/facts" all you want, but if there is one thing the past oil and nuclear crisis' have shown, the human factor trumps all. Inevitably, to save a dollar certain safety measures get dropped altogether, and obviously there isn't enough oversight to insure everything is properly maintained or done right.
quote: a corporation shows us that they can responsibly build and operate some nuclear power plants
quote: because the joke's on us (the U.S.).
quote: biggest bunch of hippies, socialists, and...
quote: ... so much more concerned with what they can GET than what they can GIVE
quote: As with most other problems in our country, I blame the baby boomer generation. That generation has been party to the biggest bunch of hippies, socialists, and NIMBY cry-babies I think we've ever had in this nation. Emotional, illogical, and overly narcissistic - so much more concerned with what they can GET than what they can GIVE. How did the Greatest Generation give birth to that?
quote: Ultimately, I've always respected the French for their shrewdness, but in the same way I respect a vagina for being a vagina.
quote: the fridge will be full of baquettes
quote: If the majority of Americans were truly as brave as France's president -- willing to tell the naysayers, "Be damned, we're going to support great engineering" -- then they would vote obstructionist politicians out of office.
quote: Well then Ignorance is to blame, and Education is the solution.
quote: To be fair, Germany has great wind energy growth so they could potentially replace nuclear with wind (and some solar)
quote: American is a nation with a history of innovative engineering, without question. After all it was America that essentially invented both the atomic bomb and the nuclear reactor.Today, though, the nation is faltering in its leadership role. Its politicians are silent. There are no cries for Generation IV reactors. We're unlikely to see such reactors on American soil anytime soon. So the next time somebody cracks a joke at the expense of the French, don't laugh -- because the joke's on us (the U.S.).
quote: Nuclear energy isn't clean, never was, never will be, anyone who says otherwise is lying. There are simply not enough storage facilities for the waste to be safe for the thousands of years necessary. As for the accidents, in my life there has been two major nuclear power incidents in the last 50 years. That's one every 25 years on average, at the current rate of deployment. Deploy more nuclear sites and the accident rate will rise. Given the accident rate, and the rate of waste build-up, the earth will be un-inhabittable in just a few thousand years. Please, stop with all the nuclear courage nonsense. You have no idea what you are talking about.
quote: If the near future does see the widespread use of plug-in hybrids and electric vehicles the current power grid WILL fail! California can't supply power to its population at the present. Further taxing the grid will make a bad situation worse, unless the Grid is strengthened. Personally I think the best bet is smaller local generating stations in each neighborhood, and decentralizing the the grid. Decentralizing would solve many of our problems. But, that will be at least a decade or two from now. Gen VI reactors could be online within 5 years if red tape was cut.
quote: In October 1976, fear of nuclear weapons proliferation (especially after India demonstrated nuclear weapons capabilities using reprocessing technology) led President Gerald Ford to issue a Presidential directive to indefinitely suspend the commercial reprocessing and recycling of plutonium in the U.S. On April 7, 1977 , President Jimmy Carter banned the reprocessing of commercial reactor spent nuclear fuel. The key issue driving this policy was the serious threat of nuclear weapons proliferation by diversion of plutonium from the civilian fuel cycle, and to encourage other nations to follow the USA lead. . After that, only countries that already had large investments in reprocessing infrastructure continued to reprocess spent nuclear fuel. President Reagan lifted the ban in 1981, but did not provide the substantial subsidy that would have been necessary to start up commercial reprocessing.
quote: Radioactive tritium has leaked from three-quarters of United States commercial nuclear power sites, often into groundwater from corroded, buried piping, an Associated Press investigation shows.
quote: Texas officials charged with protecting the environment and public health have for years made arbitrary subtractions to the measured levels of radiation delivered by water utilities across the state, according to a series of investigative reports out of Houston.
quote: LOS ALAMOS, N.M., June 28 (Reuters) - New Mexico fire managers scrambled on Tuesday to reinforce crews battling a third day against an out-of-control blaze at the edge of one of the top U.S. nuclear weapons production centers. The fire's leading edge burned to within a few miles of a dump site where some 20,000 barrels of plutonium-contaminated waste, including clothing and equipment, is stored at the Los Alamos National Laboratory, fire officials said.
quote: Tons of radioactive water were discovered on Tuesday to have leaked into the ground from Japan's Fukushima nuclear plant, the latest in a series of leaks at the plant damaged in a March earthquake and tsunami, the country's nuclear watchdog said.
quote: According to Straume  few studies are available on tritium-induced health injury in humans. Health-risk estimates for tritium are therefore based on the large number of experiments with animals and cell cultures. These experiments show that exposure to tritiated water results in mutations and cell disruptions that can lead to the health effects possible for ionizing radiation?cancer, heritable genetic effects, and reproductive and developmental effects.
quote: The public is only now becoming aware of the magnitude of tritium’s hazards. Most studies indicate that tritium in living creatures can produce typical radiogenic effects including cancer, genetic effects, developmental abnormalities and reproductive effects. (Straume) Tritium can cause mutations, tumors and cell death. (Rytomaa) Tritiated water is associated with significantly decreased weight of brain and genital tract organs in mice (Torok) and can cause irreversible loss of female germ cells in both mice and monkeys even at low concentrations. (Dobson, 1979) Studies indicate that lower doses of tritium can cause more cell death (Dobson, 1976), mutations (Ito) and chromosome damage (Hori) per dose than higher tritium doses. Tritium can impart damage which is two or more times greater per dose than either x-rays or gamma rays. (Straume) (Dobson, 1976) There is no evidence of a threshold for damage from 3H exposure; even the smallest amount of tritium can have negative health impacts. (Dobson, 1974) Organically bound tritium (tritium bound in animal or plant tissue) can stay in the body for 10 years or more. While tritiated water may be cleared from the human body in about 10 days (Garland), if a person lives in an area where tritium contamination continues, he or she can experience chronic exposure to tritium. (Laskey) Tritium from tritiated water can become incorporated into DNA, the molecular basis of heredity for living organisms. DNA is especially sensitive to radiation...
quote: Tritium has certain characteristics that present unique challenges for dosimetry and health-risk assessment. For example, in the gas form, tritium can diffuse through almost any container, including those made of steel, aluminum, and plastics. In the oxide form, tritium can generally not be detected by commonly used survey instruments. In the environment, tritium can be taken up by all hydrogen-containing molecules, distributing widely on a global scale. Tritium can be incorporated into humans through respiration, ingestion, and diffusion through skin. Its harmful effects are observed only when it is incorporated into the body. Several sources contribute to the inventory of tritium in our environment. These are 1) cosmic ray interaction with atmospheric molecules; 2) nuclear reactions in the earth's crust; 3) nuclear testing in the atmosphere during the 1950s and 1960s; 4) continuous release of tritium from nuclear power plants and tritium production facilities under normal operation; 5) incidental releases from these facilities; and 6) consumer products. An important future source will be nuclear fusion facilities expected to be developed for the purpose of electricity generation. The principal health physics problems associated with tritium are 1) the determination of the parameters for risk estimation with further reduction of their uncertainties (e.g., relative biological effectiveness and dose-rate dependency); 2) risk estimation from complex exposures to tritium in gas form, tritium in oxide form, tritium surface contamination, and other tritium-contaminated forms, with or without other ionizing radiations and/or nonionizing radiations; 3) the dose contributions of elemental tritium in the lung and from its oxidized tritium in the gastrointestinal tract; 4) prevention of tritium (in oxide form) intake and enhancement of tritium (oxide form) excretion from the human body; 5) precise health effects information for low-level tritium exposure; and 6) public acceptance of tritium leakage and waste disposal from reactors and fuel reprocessing plants.
quote: Now, for something more accurate: http://www.lbl.gov/ehs/esg/tritium/tritium/TritCh2... quote: According to Straume  few studies are available on tritium-induced health injury in humans. Health-risk estimates for tritium are therefore based on the large number of experiments with animals and cell cultures. These experiments show that exposure to tritiated water results in mutations and cell disruptions that can lead to the health effects possible for ionizing radiation?cancer, heritable genetic effects, and reproductive and developmental effects.
quote: Among some Americans, France is derided and the bunt of jokes. Such attitudes arose after the Americans helped an occupied France with two World Wars. However, most of those Americans fail to realize that the American Revolution would likely have failed, had it not been for French intervention.
quote: France has long been a strong independent nation, and it's been showing it of late. For example, when the U.S. was wavering on whether to launch airstrikes when Libya's dictator was slaughtering civilians, France acted first, sending in fighter jets and bombers to the region and taking matters into their own hands.
quote: That's one of the dumbest arguments I've ever heard. More Jews died in countries that DID put up a fight. Poland, The USSR, etc. So the net result would have been that all of those people would STILL have been dead, only now the city would have been in ruins as well. Brilliant.
quote: This was absolutely the right thing to do under the circumstances. Because I have no doubt that Hitler would have gladly leveled the city had they resisted.
quote: So the nation that is France now, has nothing to do with the nation that helped us in the Revolution. Since then, they have been self-serving, arrogant pricks.
quote: Really? Strong? Like rolling over and letting Hitler take Paris without so much as a shot being fired.
quote: Every European owes America for their individual freedom and enlightened way of life. If not for the US, Europe would be a police state under the Nazi regime to this day.
quote: It disgusts me that a FRENCH president would EVER question America's bravery. Are you F$$$ing kidding me.
quote: My grandfather didn't have to go to France to save your asses, but he did. And he was of German decent. Fighting his own heritage for your freedom.
quote: The French are nothing more than the punk kid who jumps in the fight after all the blood has already been spilled, and then starts running his mouth.