Nuclear Power Is Expensive and Bad for the Environment … It’s Being Pushed Because It Is Good For Making Bombs

George Washington's picture

Forbes points out:

Nuclear power is no longer an economically viable source of new energy in the United States, the freshly-retired CEO of Exelon, America’s largest producer of nuclear power [who also served on the president’s Blue Ribbon Commission on America’s Nuclear Future], said in Chicago Thursday.


And it won’t become economically viable, he said, for the forseeable future.




“I’m the nuclear guy,” Rowe said. “And you won’t get better results with nuclear. It just isn’t economic, and it’s not economic within a foreseeable time frame.”

U.S. News and World Report notes:

After the Fukushima power plant disaster in Japan last year, the rising costs of nuclear energy could deliver a knockout punch to its future use in the United States, according to a researcher at the Vermont Law School Institute for Energy and the Environment.


“From my point of view, the fundamental nature of [nuclear] technology suggests that the future will be as clouded as the past,” says Mark Cooper, the author of the report. New safety regulations enacted or being considered by the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission would push the cost of nuclear energy too high to be economically competitive.

The disaster insurance for nuclear power plants in the United States is currently underwritten by the federal government, Cooper says. Without that safeguard, “nuclear power is neither affordable nor worth the risk. If the owners and operators of nuclear reactors had to face the full liability of a Fukushima-style nuclear accident or go head-to-head with alternatives in a truly competitive marketplace, unfettered by subsidies, no one would have built a nuclear reactor in the past, no one would build one today, and anyone who owns a reactor would exit the nuclear business as quickly as possible.”

Alternet reports:

An authoritative study by the investment bank Lazard Ltd. found that wind beat nuclear and that nuclear essentially tied with solar. But wind and solar, being simple and safe, are coming on line faster. Another advantage wind and solar have is that capacity can be added bit by bit; a wind farm can have more or less turbines without scuttling the whole project. As economies of scale are created within the alternative energy supply chains and the construction process becomes more efficient, prices continue to drop. Meanwhile, the cost of stalled nukes moves upward.

AP noted last year:

Nuclear power is a viable source for cheap energy only if it goes uninsured.




Governments that use nuclear energy are torn between the benefit of low-cost electricity and the risk of a nuclear catastrophe, which could total trillions of dollars and even bankrupt a country.

The bottom line is that it’s a gamble: Governments are hoping to dodge a one-off disaster while they accumulate small gains over the long-term.


The cost of a worst-case nuclear accident at a plant in Germany, for example, has been estimated to total as much as €7.6 trillion ($11 trillion), while the mandatory reactor insurance is only €2.5 billion.


“The €2.5 billion will be just enough to buy the stamps for the letters of condolence,” said Olav Hohmeyer, an economist at the University of Flensburg who is also a member of the German government’s environmental advisory body.


The situation in the U.S., Japan, China, France and other countries is similar.




“Around the globe, nuclear risks — be it damages to power plants or the liability risks resulting from radiation accidents — are covered by the state. The private insurance industry is barely liable,” said Torsten Jeworrek, a board member at Munich Re, one of the world’s biggest reinsurance companies.




In financial terms, nuclear incidents can be so devastating that the cost of full insurance would be so high as to make nuclear energy more expensive than fossil fuels.




Ultimately, the decision to keep insurance on nuclear plants to a minimum is a way of supporting the industry.


“Capping the insurance was a clear decision to provide a non-negligible subsidy to the technology,” Klaus Toepfer, a former German environment minister and longtime head of the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP), said.

See this and this.

This is an ongoing battle, not ancient history. As Harvey Wasserman reports:

The only two US reactor projects now technically under construction are on the brink of death for financial reasons.


If they go under, there will almost certainly be no new reactors built here.




Georgia’s double-reactor Vogtle project has been sold on the basis of federal loan guarantees. Last year President Obama promised the Southern Company, parent to Georgia Power, $8.33 billion in financing from an $18.5 billion fund that had been established at the Department of Energy by George W. Bush. Until last week most industry observers had assumed the guarantees were a done deal. But the Nuclear Energy Institute, an industry trade group, has publicly complained that the Office of Management and Budget may be requiring terms that are unacceptable to the builders.




The climate for loan guarantees has changed since this one was promised. The $535 million collapse of Solyndra prompted a rash of angry Congressional hearings and cast a long shadow over the whole range of loan guarantees for energy projects. Though the Vogtle deal comes from a separate fund, skepticism over stalled negotiations is rising.


So is resistance among Georgia ratepayers. To fund the new Vogtle reactors, Southern is forcing “construction work in progress” rate hikes that require consumers to pay for the new nukes as they’re being built. Southern is free of liability, even if the reactors are not completed. Thus it behooves the company to build them essentially forever, collecting payment whether they open or not.


All that would collapse should the loan guarantee package fail.

Bad for the Environment

Alternet points out:

Mark Cooper, senior fellow for economic analysis at the Vermont Law School … found that the states that invested heavily in nuclear power had worse track records on efficiency and developing renewables than those that did not have large nuclear programs. In other words, investing in nuclear technology crowded out developing clean energy.

Many experts also say that the “energy return on investment” from nuclear power is lower than many other forms of energy. In other words, non-nuclear energy sources produce more energy for a given input.

And decentralizing energy production and storage is the real solution for the environment … not building more centralized nuclear plants.

BBC notes:

Building the [nuclear] power station produces a lot of CO2 ….


Nuclear power … would do nothing directly to reduce CO2 from transport ….

Indeed, an International Forum on Globalization report – written by environmental luminaries Ernest Callenback, Gar Smith and Jerry Mander – have slammed nuclear power as catastrophic for the environment:

Nuclear energy is not the “clean” energy its backers proclaim. For more than 50 years, nuclear energy has been quietly polluting our air, land, water and bodies—while also contributing to Global Warming through the CO2 emissions from its construction, mining, and manufacturing operations. Every aspect of the nuclear fuel cycle—mining, milling, shipping, processing, power generation, waste disposal and storage—releases greenhouse gases, radioactive particles and toxic materials that poison the air, water and land. Nuclear power plants routinely expel low-level radionuclides into the air in
the course of daily operations.While exposure to high levels of radiation can kill within a matter of days or weeks, exposure to low levels on a prolonged basis can damage bones and tissue and result in genetic damage, crippling long-term injuries, disease and death.

David Swanson – discussing the report – writes:

The energy put into mining, processing, and shipping uranium, plant construction, operation, and decommissioning is roughly equal to the energy a nuclear plant can produce in its lifetime. In other words, nuclear energy does not add any net energy.


Not counted in that calculation is the energy needed to store nuclear waste for hundreds of thousands of years.

Also not counted is any mitigation of the relatively routine damage done to the environment, including human health, at each stage of the process.




Nuclear energy is not an alternative to energies that increase global warming, because nuclear increases global warming. When high-grade uranium runs out, nuclear will be worse for CO2 emissions than burning fossil fuels. And as global warming advances, nuclear becomes even less efficient as reactors must shut down to avoid overheating.

Good for Making Bombs

If nuclear energy is expensive and bad for the environment, why is it being pushed so heavily? And why did the Fukushima reactors use plutonium – instead of just uranium? We need a little background to understand the answers.

Virtually all of the nuclear reactors in the U.S. are of the same archaic design as those at Fukushima. This design was not chosen for safety reasons. Rather, it was chosen because it worked in Navy submarines, and produces plutonium for use in nuclear weapons.

Indeed, safer designs – such as thorium reactors – were left on the shelf because they don’t produce weapons-grade plutonium.

Governments have been covering up nuclear meltdowns for 50 years in order to protect the nuclear plant production of weapons-grade nuclear material. They have also suppressed the findings of their own top scientists about the health risks of radiation. Indeed, “nuclear regulators” are really just promoters for the nuclear cycle.

As veteran investigative reporter Joseph Trento – who has received six Pulitzer nominations, worked for CNN’s Special Assignment Unit, the Wilmington News Journal, and prominent journalist Jack Anderson – notes in a new report, the U.S. circumvented national and international laws to secretly give Japan nuclear weapons:

The United States deliberately allowed Japan access to the United States’ most secret nuclear weapons facilities while it transferred tens of billions of dollars worth of American tax paid research that has allowed Japan to amass 70 tons of weapons grade plutonium since the 1980s, a National Security News Service investigation reveals. These activities repeatedly violated U.S. laws regarding controls of sensitive nuclear materials that could be diverted to weapons programs in Japan. The NSNS investigation found that the United States has known about a secret nuclear weapons program in Japan since the 1960s, according to CIA reports.




[Japan] has used its electrical utility companies as a cover to allow the country to amass enough nuclear weapons materials to build a nuclear arsenal larger than China, India and Pakistan combined. This deliberate proliferation by the United States fuels arguments by countries like Iran that the original nuclear powers engage in proliferation despite treaty and internal legal obligations.




That secret effort was hidden in a nuclear power program that by March 11, 2011– the day the earthquake and tsunami overwhelmed the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Plant – had amassed 70 metric tons of plutonium. Like its use of civilian nuclear power to hide a secret bomb program, Japan used peaceful space exploration as a cover for developing sophisticated nuclear weapons delivery systems.


Political leaders in Japan understood that the only way the Japanese people could be convinced to allow nuclear power into their lives was if a long line of governments and industry hid any military application. For that reason, a succession of Japanese governments colluded on a bomb program disguised as innocent energy and civil space programs.




Until the March 2011 tragedy, the Japanese nuclear industry had largely remained hidden from critical eyes. The less than thorough InternationA nuclear-armed Japan would relieve much of the drain on American military resources. The need to keep two divisions on the ground in Korea, as well as nuclear armed ships and aircraft in the Pacific as a hedge against China and the missile bases in the Soviet Far East detracted from the Pentagon’s chief mission – preparing for all-out war on the plains of Central Europe. The Reagan administration’s strategy was to push the Soviet war machine until it broke, taking the Soviet Union and its satellite regimes with it. The less than thorough International Atomic Energy Agency, the world’s proliferation safeguard agency, also turned a blind eye.


In a rare glimpse of a Japanese industry that has remained top secret for so many decades, our investigation raises serious concerns about Japanese and Western nuclear policies and the officials who shaped those policies during and after the Cold War. International corporations and officials sacrificed the safety and security of the public to carry out the deception. Under the guise of a peaceful nuclear power program, they made huge profits.




Both the Monju fast-breeder reactor in 1995 and the Tokai reprocessing plant in April 1997 suffered serious, accidental radiation leaks; both accidents were the subjects of attempted cover-ups. Most egregious was the fire and leak of radioactive sodium at the Monju FBR. Japan’s Power Reactor and Nuclear Fuel Development Corporation (PNC), the government corporation that operated Monju, lied repeatedly to the public about the accident. PNC attempted to suppress video footage that showed the cause of the accident: a ruptured pipe in a secondary cooling system that had spilled an estimated two to three tons of radioactive sodium – the largest such leak in the history of fast-breeder technology. One of the reasons PNC gave for releasing the misinformation was that Monju was too important to Japan’s energy program to jeopardize the reactor’s operation. In other words, the public’s safety was secondary to the breeder program.


Had it not been for a courageous act by a group of Fukui prefecture officials in the early morning of December 11, PNC’s attempted cover-up probably would have succeeded. Suspecting a cover-up, the officials entered the plant and secured the videotape. The action came as a direct result of a previous accident at Fukui’s Tsuruga Unit I reactor in the early 1980s. Fukui prefecture officials were not permitted to investigate that mishap. When the Monju accident took place, the officials were determined not to be turned away a second time. Following revelations that the agency itself had been involved in trying to withhold the video, a PNC executive committed suicide.




The Fukushima nuclear disaster was not Japan’s first close call with nuclear weapons grade plutonium. Japan came very close to contaminating the Chilean coast on March 20, 1995, when the Pacific Pintail, laden with enough waste plutonium to build hundreds of nuclear bombs, tried to head into the protection of Chilean waters during a storm [with] 40-foot waves crashing over her bow, the spray flying away horizontally in the storm. He was in the midst of an Antarctic gale off Cape Horn at the tip of South America – the deadliest ocean in the world….

BBC notes:

A veteran of the nuclear industry wrote this: “What the industry needs to regain the support of the British public is… something akin to a Truth and Reconciliation Commission.”


It needs to be admitted that governments and industry lied to the public about the links with the military programme” ….

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fnordfnordfnord's picture


geekgrrl's picture

Let me guess: you're a true believer.

nmewn's picture
"Nuclear Power Is Expensive and Bad for the Environment … It’s Being Pushed Because It Is Good For Making Bombs"

Yes, the French are well known for their nuclear bomb making skills...geez. 

nmewn's picture

Oh for God's sake George...France is a net exporter of energy precisely because of it's nuclear power generation.

You sittin around thinkin the Frenchies are gonna trust solar, wind and algae to give them power to brew up their latte's? Ain't gonna happen man.

Reptil's picture

BULLSHIT they had a problem last winter, and the germans who shut down 6 plants did not. You're regurgitating some fantasy story line of the nuclear industry.

Some information about France:

The situation of nuclear industry in France has changed, as the country itself has changed. The nuclear industry has been privatised. There's been a change in management, and the direction also has changed. No longer it civillian use of nuclear power a "socialist dream" (energy for all), which of course was a cover for the militairy use of nuclear power, there's now the ONLY goal to make profit. Older, experienced workers and scientists have been silenced or forced out of the plants, and lower level workers have been replaced by cheap seasonal workers. These are non-french speaking immigrants, without proper education or experience, but they shut up about the deteriorated saftety measures and systems. (In french, aired in Belgium, but beeping geiger counters everywhere are quite easy to understand n'est pas?)

Then, there's the schandal of contamination, throughout France. Areva denying everything of course, sweettalking their way out: (Aired on french tv)

The worldwide problem of waste: (Aired on Arte)

I don't know what will happen. The nuclear lobby is international, and very powerful. They control most of the scientific research, the media, and the government of Sarkozy is pro-nuclear. It's however clear that there's a growing awareness, not just because of Fukushima, but also because of many accidents at the french nuclear plants..

This guy has some compelling arguments: The "nuclear renaissance" is dead, but for some reason (miliairy? NWO? population reduction? something else?) it's still being pushed through, allthough it's not in the interest of the french people. (or anyone for that matter) The economic argument IS BOGUS.

nmewn's picture

"...they had a problem last winter, and the germans who shut down 6 plants did not."

You say they had an incident. What was the magnitude? The Germans have always been better engineers if thats what you mean.

"These are non-french speaking immigrants, without proper education or experience, but they shut up about the deteriorated saftety measures and systems."

Is it engineering design or incompetence?

Let me be puuurrrfectly clear (dating myself) I don't want them built on fault lines either. I want them run by professionals like here in Crystal River. If we're going to put the cart before the horse with "green plug in cars" and new i-shit every other day we're going to need the power.

GW wears everyone out on oil drilling even though we won't run out for at least a century. Barry has already said and doing what he said he would do with coal. Solar is the biggest flop in modern times. Algae is a pipe dream. T Boone Pickens lost his ass farting in the

So where would you like to plug in?

Reptil's picture

Until I have my own power source (see further ahead in the comments for suggestions) I'd like to plug into the german grid which is doing fine.
So much energy from renewable sources flooding it, last summer, they had to give it away.

You didn't adress the waste issue. Untill that's solved nuclear fission is a non starter. Only good for megalomaniacs making (and using) nuclear bombs. Face it, the whole industry is rotten to the core and very powerful in our societies. It's like a Hydra with influence everywhere. In theory we could agree that it'd take capable and consencious operators to run a nuclear plant without fail. If possible at all, because there've been accidents and near-disasters all the time as long as these plants are there. However... it's beyond some technical issues of operator error. The whole fission plant idea is simply wrong. The whole industry has been KNOWINGLY on the wrong path. But they gained UNHEARD OF power in our society, and hoped for the best? That was then.

But this is now ... "nuclear renaissance"? On the same footing? While inventing and using new types of nuclear bombs? And sacrificing a huge part of society to not appear "alarmed" about Fukushima isotopes flooding the northern hemisphere? And then we're nitpicking over if these people are competent enough? I think that question is irrelevant. They are competent but don't give a shit.

To illustratel the big problem apart from plants becoming unstable and plutonium waste sitting in a Siberian tundra untill the wind takes it elsewhere.. there's the low level radiation issue. Oh hell yes that's the main cause of cancer in our species. And yes the industry knew about it but covered it up from the start. Search for dr. Ernest Sternglass. EVERY FISSION PLANT IS A SOURCE OF RADIOACTIVE TRITIUM WHICH IS VENTED. The germans researched the correlation between leukaemia and nuclear plants. And have proven it.

BUT at the same time, the Childeren's Leukaemia Foundation in the UK right now has a nuclear industry guy (Richard Wakeford) assuring the public there's no relation between that, and increasing radiation, and have told some fantasy about an "unknown pathogen (virus?)" to be the cause (since 1985) while the correlation is simply not there. I ask myself, why do they think they can continue the lie, while the effects have become so widespread now that it's impossible to ignore? Are they going to close down information streams about it completely before the public at large finds out the newspaper articles and presidential speeches that say there's no problem turn out to be lies?

I don't really believe in incompetence as a driving motivator, the alternative is even more sinister. I presume you, or many do not have a clue yet what humanity is up against here, perhaps you do. Irrespectively; GW taps into that rabbithole with this link between the japanese militairy program and the coverstory of civillian use. Bottom line is, these people, for whatever reason don't give a damn about our society, our biotope, us, as long as they can continue to hold their grip on this technology. More than 50 nuke plants in a vault line? I find this very strange in the long run. IMHO it's a crossroads in our evolution. Grow, and overcome the issues, or simply perish slowly and die off. Perhapse they have a spaceship? Earth 2.0? </sarc>

nmewn's picture

"Until I have my own power source..."

Well theres certainly nothing wrong with that on a personal level.

But its a non-starter for me to subsidize another via force of government, thereby enriching a total stranger, only to again pay in perpetuity for the "privlege" of being robbed the first time. Which is the government-private model of financing it now.

"I'd like to plug into the german grid which is doing fine. So much energy from renewable sources flooding it, last summer, they had to give it away."

If we are to be candid, its my understanding they were "giving it away" in that instance because of unseasonably high winds generating excess. They have no way to store it or modulate it apparently based on demand alone.

"You didn't adress the waste issue."

And you didn't address the issue of the wind not blowing all the time and cold foggy days.

Jim in MN's picture

It is, after all, a fundamentally socialist technology.  And, by the way, what the French are known for is secrecy, both regarding nuclear accidents and the teeny weeny detail that there is no long term waste disposal in France.  They have not solved the problems any more than our other until-recently nuclear poster child...Japan.

nmewn's picture

They may be known for trying to be secret but keeping a secret is an entirely different thing ;-)

Waste is a major issue, granted, but...France is not situated on major fault lines either, well within the Eurasian Plate so I don't get the poster child comparison...they're not building them at the foot of the Pyrenees.

User 3461's picture

Nuclear power is fit for modern man. We have reverted to a point where there's probably more potential energy in the reams of paperwork than the fuel rods.


Think of the closing scene from Planet of the Apes.

Reptil's picture

It's a trap! In order to mainain an arsenal of nuclear weapons, you'd need nuclear reactors. In order to sell this to the public those have so far been "civiliian" reactors. Perhaps you can use some bomb to nuke an opponent. But in the meantime the reactor is sitting there, with all the hot fuel around it.

And these are VERY vulnerable to attacks.

Not Too Important's picture

Explain this to the BRICs at the Iranian summit.

If I worked for State, I'd quit. There's no way to walk into that meeting with any sense of personal honor.

Then again, is there any left in that Department?

Walt D.'s picture

Old bumper sticker from 1980

Ban Nuclear Power - let the Bastards Freeze in the Dark

bunnyswanson's picture

A kettle stove and fireplace kept many homes warm enough for survival.  We lived to talk about it.  When it comes down to - Air pollution and global warming vs radiaoactive fall outs that will interfere with dividing human cells/DNA as well as render the planet uninhabitable for 400 years  - ?  Let's ask the children which they would prefer. 

George Washington's picture

Old bumper sticker:

Insanity: doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.

-- Albert Einstein

sessinpo's picture

I only have a few things to say regarding most of the posts on this thread?


Thorium - look it up and do your own research. Technology is out there for safer nuclear reactors that aren't easily or able to convert to atomic bombs.

These reactors have a larger initial cost but the benefits afterwards may be worth it but as in many stories, this side is almost always left out.

earleflorida's picture

Sorry to disappoint you, but, thorium reactors/ modules can be made to order for any application at a fraction of the cost regarding "Nuclear Power Generation" !


unicorn's picture

he didnt left thorium aside in this one... but didnt mention the italian mafia allready poisoning the seas since ages with atomic waste (mean: doesnt matter one boat more or less)... see:

its in german

Reptil's picture

yes, and no one raised an eyebrow. I posted the french version above. 0__0

compare: Yakuza-Mafia?

here more recent shennannigans of a different kind (sorry for the repost)

epwpixieq-1's picture

Do not confuse nuclear energy conversion with uranium energy conversion, about which, in particular I agree (with the presented info), as the author of the article seems to do.

There is energy conversion from thorium, please google it, learn about it, and after that make you mind about it. Also google "liquid thorium reactor".

Note that I am using the word "conversion", there is nothing like "energy generation". As we all know, the energy neither can be destroyed nor created, or if it can please someone show me how one can destroy or create energy. It can only be concentrated and dissipated. The conversion is one these 2 forms, with the benefits of us not knowing exactly on which side of the process we are. The FLOW of energy in the universe is Eternal.

So, why all (supposedly) smart people use the term "generation".

It is so wrong as saying "water creation", sounds strange, I bet it does.

ddtuttle's picture

As read these comments I feel like I'm back in 1971 on Earth Day.  You guys all make good points, but have painted ourselves into a corner with the energy problem.  We need nuclear plain and simple.  Could it be safe enough? Aboslutely.  Do we have the political will to invest in that level of technology? judging from this post and the comments, I'd say probably not. Today's reactors and fuel dsiposal systems  require adult supervision which seems in short supply.  Running a raector is boring unless it melts down.  Good engineers just don't want to spend thier careers that way.

The solution is to build a safe reactor (Homer Simpson proof) that consumes all its fissile material.  That makes the waste safe against criticality, which is what makes the fuel pools so dangerous.  Yes, its seriously radioactive for about 100 years, but not 200,000 like the stuff we're making now.  Because it can't go critical, its much easier to store safely fro that 100 years.

The reactors just have to become melt down proof.  Earthquakes, terrorists or tornadoes couldn't melt it down under any circumstances.  Too much govt reguulation has prevented these develpoments from being attempted.  Yes the current overly regulated obsoltete technoogy is too expsnsive, so we have to reduce the costs, not act like a bunch of Luddites and shut the possibility down.

It won't be easy or cheap, but a safe reactor can be designed, built and operated.  7 billion people say you don't have a choice.

George Washington's picture

You pretend that you are a free market advocate ... however, without government totally subdizing the nuclear power industry, no new plants would ever be built.

earleflorida's picture

FWIW Dept:   Google @ "LFTR - A Nuclear Reactor That Can't Melt Down?__ No High Pressure Coolants? __ Consumes Nuclear Waste? __ Are You Dreaming? __ Jan.17,2012 --- Sorry, no other way to access site :-(( or just go "Thorium Converts"

Please note:  fluoride converts thorium-232 into uranium-233

absolutely enlightening research GW, Thanks

Great Post! :-))

New American Revolution's picture

Gotta disagree here with you George, you're wrapping all nuclear energy projects into the unsustainable model of mega nuclear reactors that require proactive cooling with multi-safety back-up systems.    Try the new passive small nuclear reactors that can be added on line just like the wind generation industry.    Onlyh no wind?  No problem.    Each unit wouldn't cover more than 15% of any local grid, can be installed anywhere, even without wind, which allows them to be close to where they are used driving down the cost of lost energy in transmission, which I'm sure you know is BIG!  

Puts a lot of people to work, drives down electrical energy costs, and there are over 50 university/lab/companies that are working to be able to build and buy American.   They need be regulated to a basic open source uniform design and can add from there with propriatary interests that must be made available to the market at a reasonable cost.   I hate like hell to put that caviat in, but it's just one of those necessary evils.



George Washington's picture

Noted last year:

Indeed, even nuclear power can be generated and then used locally at the neighborhood scale – and a lot safer than Tepco or GE can do it in a giant nuclear plant.

geekgrrl's picture

After reading about Japan's secret nuclear weapons program and all the US involvement, I'm feeling completely disgusted. I can't imagine a clearer example of the contempt and disregard TPTB have for the real safety and security of their people. Could it be any clearer who the terrorists are?

Here's the problem in a nutshell: organized crime now runs most governments, certainly all the major countries. Events like TMI, Chernobyl, Fukushima, and countless others that were covered-up, demonstrate what happens when criminals get a hold of nuclear weapons. We all know the dramatic stories about some rogue terrorist bringing a suitcase bomb to NYC or the superbowl, but the reality is that criminals in government and industry have controlled these technologies for decades and they don't give a damn about anyone else. When they have an "accident" people who didn't even know what the government was doing and who didn't give their consent end up as the victims, and all the government secrets end up being exposed well after the guilty actors are dead of natural causes. Where is the justice?   

All nuke plants should be shut down. The technology never should have been developed, and as we see, it wouldn't have, were it not for the bomb-making materials. They weren't turning swords into ploughshares, they were making bigger swords.

Thanks GW!

NaN's picture

The only difference between Fukushima and a massive, bad ass dirty bomb is state of mind. 


Not Too Important's picture

Millions of dirty bombs, going off daily.

non_anon's picture

A by-product of making nuclear bombs is fluoride, I wonder how do they get rid of that hazardous waste?

Did you brush your teeth or drink tap water today?

Laddie's picture

GW in a previous entry stated that the Japanese are poisoning at least the entire West coast of the US and that is clear from reading the Manichi news article he linked.

Noted GW: "Fukushima will start burning radioactive debris containing up to 100,000 becquerels of radioactive cesium per kilogram."

They are DEVILS, devils, and Obama does NOTHING, save enable MORE of these nuclear power plants to be built!!!

Japan came very close to contaminating the Chilean coast on March 20, 1995, when the Pacific Pintail, laden with enough waste plutonium to build hundreds of nuclear bombs, tried to head into the protection of Chilean waters during a storm [with] 40-foot waves crashing over her bow, the spray flying away horizontally in the storm. He was in the midst of an Antarctic gale off Cape Horn at the tip of South America – the deadliest ocean in the world

edotabin's picture

I am for anything that will decentralize the production of power.

sgt_doom's picture

     American Interests?  Or multinational control?

We are constantly lectured by pseudo-experts proclaiming that all actions taken are in America’s interest --- many or most of those murderous and bloody actions seem to always profit the economic elites, while dismantling economic structures which benefit the majority and undermine the fabric of society --- regardless of the countries involved.

There has been a continuum of actions by America in the Middle East and Near East which, although sometimes appearing illogical, move inexorably in the same direction.

With the Carter-Reagan-Bush-Clinton-Bush-Obama administrations, the overall thrust is to strengthen the Sunnis of Saudi Arabia and elsewhere, secondarily, while promoting multinationals’ strength and profits, primarily.

Yes, the invasions of Iraq and Afghanistan appear to weaken Sunnis while empowering the Shia and establishing the Shia Crescent, but it succeeded in capturing oil and other resources for transport to China and India to benefit the multinationals and, by extension, the economic elites in those two countries.

Wikileaked cables have exposed the inside wrangling to appoint America’s – or the multinationals’ – choice for director general (a Japanese national) of the International Atomic Energy Agency, which has aided the Obama administration’s falsifying their inspections in Iran.

The Bush administration falsified intel on Iraqi WMDs; the Obama administration does the same with Iran --- the perfect continuum!

Iran has the oil and the radium, and after years and years of American and multinational interference in their internal affairs, Iran has the temerity to switch from US petrodollars to a different means of financial exchange.

The economic/numeric indicators later this year (7/12 to 12/12) appear seriously grave, contrary to what the pseudo-expert talking heads prattle on about; the logical outcome of offshoring American production assets (jobs, factories, production facilities, etc.) and American capital assets (financial investments, plus US foreign aid to build those factories, production facilities, etc., for the multinationals, with some of that foreign aid being laundered to return to America as focused political campaign contributions).

Should a war on Iran occur in the second half of this year, it would certainly obscure this reality and be used as the current economic excuse.

A report has recently appeared from within the Pentagon (by a Lt.Col. Davis), suggesting that senior officers, general ranking officers, mislead the government on logistical aspects of the Afghanistan war.

This is simply more ludicrous, specious, superfluousness!

It is akin to arguing the details of evil once perpetrated by serial killer, Ted Bundy; why he once tortured a woman to death over a nine-day period, as opposed to another gruesome murder where he only tortured another woman to death over a three-day period!

Evil is as evil does ---- whether perpetrated by a psychopathic Ted Bundy, or by the psychopathic multinationals!

Jim in MN's picture

No, thorium is not a good energy source.  Let's just put this to bed shall we? 

It has all the economic and (nearly) all the safety problems of conventional nuclear power. Less waste depends on a lot of fuel manipulation which has its own problems--you push on the problem in one area but it shows up someplace else.

It's still large-scale, basically socialist technology in that it requires a police state to secure it and to steal taxpayers' money to fund it. 

Going to molten salt cores is a nightmare waiting to happen. High temperature, poisonous, radioactive liquids circulating by water and steam.  How high will she blow?  Don't ask a thorium advocate because they believe in the unsinkable ship.

And all the projects using thorium, except a few small research reactors, have failed in the usual 'whocoodaknew' fashion.  Thorium isn't easy to coax energy out of, and is mind-bendingly radioactive during parts of the fuel cycle.  Much more large-scale, industrial chemistry is involved than in conventional nuclear systems.  A lot of fuel manipulation just creates more failure points in the system.

Thorium, most of all, requires fuel reprocessing to function.  This reprocessing is the Holy Grail of the French, British and Japanese nuclear programs and has long been the dream of myopic nuclear power advocates.  So if you want a stepping stone to breeder reactors and all that enormous, catastrophe-prone infrastructure, thorium is your stalking horse. 

No better than bomb making as the hidden agenda in my opinion. 

OK, kids, start your junking.  Just remember, all these steam teakettles are no better than 35% efficient, and in combo with transmission lines and an incandescent bulb, fully 90% of the energy is thrown away by the time you're done.  Is that any way to run a railroad?  And is it really worth centralized systems, huge capital, security apparatus, toxic chemicals and radiation? 





Winston Smith 2009's picture

I've seen that many anti-thorium posts found here seem to put forward arguments from a clueless Institute for Energy and Environmental Research (IEER) and Physicians for Social Responsibility (PSR) issued a “fact sheet” called “Thorium Fuel: No Panacea for Nuclear Power."

Well, here is the complete and total destruction of the various "points" made in that report. Read and learn:

IEER/PSR Thorium “Fact Sheet” Rebuttal

WhiteNight123129's picture

Now how a molten salt reactor operating at atmospheric temperature explodes, please explain? Ok, we have a chain reaction and the whole thing melts, ok, that is still not an explosion, that is a chain reaction, but there is a little problem with the melting scnenario, here is why: 

If the liquid is automatically drained out of the reactor in case of a higher temperature, the chain reaction scenario has a problem. Unless melting point of a solid material acting as the plug for the drain AND/OR we stopped gravity ? (Newton would be happy, Planck would cheer). If gravity stops ok and melting point changes miraculously ok you have your point about the chain reaction, that being said, you still need to keep the reactioactive material from expanding as the temperature increase, because if the radioactive liquid expands, there is less radiaoctive material in the core of the reactor which itself has a tendency to slow the reaction and lower the temperature. Ok, but lets assume that the liquid does not expand in the core, the melting point of hte plug changes (huh?) and gravity stops (huh?).

Ok granted, you have some pretty demanding constraints on materials for the plumbering, but materials have made huge amount of progress. This animosity against Thorium seems to be from the people who dread a solution and are somewhat suicidal. Don´t worry for your Gold and Oil position, they will do fine, don´t stay in there until death though, because there are plenty of exciting stuff coming from cheap SOlar Thorium, cheap Ethanol, I mean the stuff from Martenson on LanzaTech, that is absolutely great news. I mean carbon monoxide as food for micro-organism to produce ethanol, that is absolutely fantastic news, it makes ethanol production using this method cheaper than Oil sands and deep drillling.


Reptil's picture

As you've already written, how to keep these from going into spontanuous criticality (meltdown and chain reaction) relies on faultless PLUMBING. And we know now that maintenance is an issue in the longer (20 years) run. What if the release valve doesn't work?

The enthousiasm of the Thorium advocates is commendable, but I haven't seen a failsafe or waste-free plan there up till now. And as already pointed out, the fuel processing would be not "clean" and simple at all. So therefore my reservation against it.


I'd bet on decentralised, low level fusion technology. Of course that can't be controlled by one big entity, once it's out there. Bio organisms use for ethanol, likewise. And that's the crux of the problem IMHO: Someone does NOT want to develop energy systems that are independent of central control, even when this is necessary for the human civiliisation to survive.


Jim in MN's picture

Here are a few points to consider, from Oak Ridge National Lab's old safety research program.  I highlighted "mixing of water and steam with coolant salt" because that's one of the failures I have mentioned. But here you can see about a dozen possibilities.


This is serious business and while it's great for people to look at thorium and be enthusiastic about it, a proper respect for the technology demands that these issues be taken seriously.





Paul R. Kasten




Investigations required in determining the safety characteristics of MSBR power plants are outlined, and associated safety program cost estimates are given. The safety features of the major plant systems in the MSBR are described; the favorable characteristics arise from the prompt negative temperature coefficient of reactivity, the low system pressures, the mobility of fluid fuel, and the low excess reactivity available to the reactor at any time. Reactivity additions which need detailed study include those associated with net fuel addition to the core region, those due to graphite behavior, those caused by changes in fluid flow conditions, and those due to control rod movement. Reactivity coefficients which require evaluation include those associated with temperature, voids, pressure, fuel concentration, and graphite concentration. The integrity of plant, containment under reactivity incident conditions and also under circumstances where reactivity itself is not involved need to be evaluated; included here are events such as mixing of water and steam with coolant salt, criticality in regions outside the core, and flow blockage within the fuel or coolant streams. Stability analysis of the reactor plant is required to determine the operating, control, and/or design requirements for obtaining satisfactory plant characteristics. Physical behavior of materials and of equipment under MSBR conditions, as they relate to reactor safety, need to be determined experimentally.

Axenolith's picture

Going to molten salt cores is a nightmare waiting to happen. High temperature, poisonous, radioactive liquids circulating by water and steam.  How high will she blow?  Don't ask a thorium advocate because they believe in the unsinkable ship.

The radioactive material circulates in the molten salt.  If the thing "failed" the salt would solidify and the reaction would cease because the thorium also needs to be initiated.  The water is separate from that system.  In addition to producing ~100X less waste than Uranium, you could also use one to neutralize existing conventional reactor wastes.


Jim in MN's picture

In an accident, the water would not necessarily be separated.  That's why it's an accident.  And nothing that operates at 600-1000 degrees becomes instantly cool. Furthermore, what improves the economics of these units?  Why, making them larger and hotter, of course. 

Passive does not equal failsafe.  You can make a toxic, radioactive geyser out of a thorium reactor.  People have drunk way too much kool-aid regarding this technology.

kaiserhoff's picture

Thanks Jim.  Been following the earthquake will get fukushima story.  Doesn't look good.   Still, I'm wondering.  Why would it take an earthquake?  Won't the radiation in the whole complex doom unit #4 storage tanks by eroding the strength of that steel eventually?   Anyone have a handle on that aspect???

Jim in MN's picture

If the spent fuel rods are covered in water they are well shielded.  The ambient radiation on site isn't enough to damage concrete or steel in the span of a few years.  Within the reactors that were loaded (remember, Unit 4 was offloaded, the core is in the pool) there is probably enough to do damage in particular spots (also remember no one has seen the melted cores or knows where they are relative to the containment structures).

The literature suggests that concrete in a reactor containment building will be just about at the point of sustaining deformation and other bad effects at about 60 years of exposure. 

As for steel, it seems unlikely that the degradation will be enough to cause failure.  Embrittlement is the enemy for steel, and while it can be an issue, again, the amount of radiation has to be pretty concentrated, which hopefully is not the case in Unit 4. 

I think the primary failure pathway here is actually good old water.  There is enough pressure and erosion to place stress on the structures.  Add weather, wind, etc. and the unknown amount of structural damage to the Unit 4 building and you don't need radiation to cause a failure.  Just a crack in the pool.

An earthquake or typhoon is also a possibility.  Of course, if one of the other units falls apart for whatever reason, a site-wide evacuation could result in a loss of cooling water for the pools including Unit 4, leading to the same result.  It's just a concrete pump truck propped up with a hose that is keeping the pool circulating now.  Not exactly a robust system.  And the 'plan' is to start offloading fuel in a year or so.  If they can figure out how.  Some of the assemblies are damaged and it may take equipment that isn't yet designed or built.

Bunga Bunga's picture

Former Japanese ambassador Mitsuhei Murata writes a dramatic letter to United Nations Secretary-General Honorable Ban Ki-moon. He says that "It is no exaggeration to say that the fate of Japan and the whole world depends on NO.4 reactor" and supports independent assessment team to deal with the issue.

WhiteNight123129's picture

Explain why you would need a containment chamber in a molten salt reactor which operates at 1 bar (atmospheric pressure) versus 100 bar for conventional reactors? Jim you obviously are not versed in Molten Salt. You think about Thorium in teh same type of high pressure reactor, just as a different fuel. We are talking about a completly different design here. Please do you research.


Jim in MN's picture

We're talking about something else. 

kaiserhoff's picture

Great summary.  One thing you can say for the MSM, they always ignore the big story.  Now what's the best way to short Tokyo?

GeezerGeek's picture

Would you please supply links to articles supporting your statements?