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Nucular power March 21, 2011

Posted by Tantumblogo in Admin, silliness, Society.
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This dealie in Japan has been quite the spectacle.  Not the disaster of the earthquake/tsunami, the goings on at the Fukashima plant. Given the facts, and the small amount of radiation released, this has all the indicators of classic media overhype in terms of all but the most local of consequences.  But, certainly, there is some cause for concern in any release of radiation.  Having said that, I wonder if this event has fundamentally changed any of my reader’s perceptions of nuclear power.

The reason I ask is, the Comanche Peak nuclear generating station near Glen Rose is currently seeking a newfrom the Nuclear Regulatory Commission to expand the plant from 2 units (reactors) to 4.  They hope to obtain the license in 2012 and begin construction shortly after.  The reactor will be of a new, more powerful, even safer design – far more advanced than the Fukashima 1960s designs.

View showing proposed new units upper left

 license

This, to me, is good.  Alot of people want to believe that we can somehow conjure the wind and sunshine into generating power on a massive scale.  But even here, in Texas, with the most wind power production of any state in the country, wind accounts for less than 5% of power produced.  Comanche Peak produces about 7% of the state’s power, all by itself.  With no whirling blades or very loud noise.  With no air emissions.  The only major drawback, which is one of policy and politics and not technology, is the waste.  There are many ways to deal with the spent fuel rods, but due to environmental scare tactics and pandering politicians, none of those means has been pursued.  So, the fuel rods are a problem, but one that could be easily managed if we only had less feckless public servants.  

Due to soaring costs of fossil fuels and general common sense, nuclear power was set to make a comeback in this country and elsewhere.  No new license for a nuclear power plant has been issued since the late 70s, but several are in process and one is very close to being approved.  I hope that is not all dead now due to an extraordinary natural event, unlikely to ever by replicated, anywhere (but providing data to design against, which will be done).  We need the power.  Expanding Comanche Peak by 3.4 gigawatts will make that single plant the supplier of over 10% of Texas’ electricity – power that is there, always, day or night, wind or no. 

But, perhaps some of my readers disagree.  If so, tell me about it.  I can see some of the objections.  But weighing all the pluses and minuses, nuclear power seems to me a far better alternative than continual reliance on fossil fuels or hoping some illusory, 100% environmentally “friendly” technology will come along and solve all our problems.  That won’t happen.

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