I am flying a route that I take a lot and I always seem to look out the window at the same time…. Right when I am flying over a nuclear power plant. I watch the steam rise out of the reactor with it’s weird cone shape and I cannot help but think, this is a really bad idea.
From an emissions standpoint is nuclear better, yes better than coal and oil but not better than solar or wind. The hot water needs a place to go it almost always goes back to a natural waterway that effects the ecosystem of that waterway. The water is warmer than naturally found there so the natural fish usually die (SEE FOOTNOTE) and fish that would not normally live in that area will thrive. This just throws the ecosystem off, is it totally detrimental probably not that bad in the scheme of things that we do with nature.
Cost… nuclear power is cheaper than wind. A true wind farm would cost about $16 Billion to build where a nuclear reactor is only $6-10 Billion to build. In every industry and in every way we can find a cheaper way to do things that does NOT mean it is the best way to do things or should be the sole reason for making that decision.
Nuclear waste… never goes away. So it needs to be stored, where? in your backyard? We could sell it to people who would have less than good ideas of what to do with it or pay really poor countries to store it for us. There is a constant fear of terrorism in the country and our storage facility for this nuclear waste, if stored here in the US, is a target just like the actual reactor is. Who wants to volunteer to live near a nuclear power plant? Would you like to do meltdown drills and have radiation tablets in your house, car…etc. to protect your family in the event of an emergency.
Many will argue that very few people have died due to nuclear power and many people die in mining accidents. The simple statistics may be true but as we need more uranium people will have to work to mine that, transport it….etc. There are no where near as many nuclear power plants that coal power plants so there is a possibility that once we increase the chances for a problem that statistic could quickly change. Remember Chrenobyl? The lingering health effects, the lack of crop, plant and vegetation growth.
Other than the fact that it is quick and cheaper than the more responsible choices there is NO reason to go nuclear.
I honestly would prefer oil and coal power to nuclear power at least that will kill us and the planet slowly rather than in one event.
FOOTNOTE: An expert and friend in the field emailed me and corrected my statements about how “fish usually die” from the warm water expelled into waterways from nuclear power plants. The more accurate description of what happens is “waters near local power plants are commonly fished during the winter for species such as striped bass, which are normally present in the area. Yes, the warm water does tend to attract some tropical/non-native species and it also may result in larger concentrations of native fish. High water temperatures are not the problem. The main cause of adult fish kills via power plants is some sort of malfunction of the facility. Larvae and juvenile species are more commonly killed as a result of power plants. Impingement and entrainment are the main sources of death, not increased water temperatures.”
Thanks to my friend for giving me the specifics about the issue, you will note I did not change the original text of my post because I feel I did not grossly misrepresent the effect on the environment. “Usually die because of the warm water (paraphrased)” is admittedly a poor choice of words given the scientific context that the water temperature is not the cause of death. I still feel that power plants do affect the ecosystem in a way that nature did not intend in more detrimental ways that other power sources…. no source of power for our human consumption is perfect there is issues even with wind and solar, I just feel that nuclear power is not in the environments best interest or human’s best interests.
Image from http://magickriver.blogspot.com/2009/08/dinosaur-technology-dinosaur-dynasties.html