Nuclear Power is a Fantasy; We are Economically Driven to Radiation Accidents
All the fans of nuke plants say that if only they had brand new
nuclear plants everything would be peachy and the old plants would
be taken off line.
However, 100,000's MW of additional power have gone online in the USA,
(coal, gas, water, wind,) yet very few nukes close. The argument of
"build new nukes and close old ones" is false.
They will run the new nukes and the old ones too.
New nuke plants do not mean closing old nuke plants,
there is no connection between closing old nuke plants and new
generation of electricity. Economically there is no reason to close old plants.
New nukes cost more than any other plant to build, every new plant is
way over budget. Old nukes are already paid for, (already built), and the
Price-Anderson Act externalizes any accident cost to the replacement
of the power lost and pocket change. Economically it is cheaper to run the old
nuke plants until they break than to do an expensive powerdown, cleanup and
move the nuclear waste. Income from electric generation
and a free buffer zone of 20-50km of land or more is irresistible.
Who pays for the hundreds of square kilometers of polluted land?
Not the power company. Free cancer deaths of the slow and unlucky that
do not escape as well as free worker deaths. Balance that against the
massive expense of a proper shut down and dismantling a nuclear plant.
The economics are inevitable since safety is not even in the equation.
It is extremely rare for a plant to close and the
Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) grants extensions to
operating permits to EVERY plant that asks for one.
What happens if a plant gets caught with safety violations or deferring
maintenance by the NRC?
The Associated Press articles by Jeff Donn in June 2011 show that
mostly nothing happens, the standards get lowered by the NRC to meet
the problems. Leaky valves, cracked tubes, corrosion, the standards are
lowered so the conditions in the plant now meet the standards.
And if an extremely hazardous situation occurs the NRC gives out
a "massive" fine of what, a few thousand dollars? And the power company just
raises the rates to cover the cost.
Externalized accident cost economics means running the nuke plants not
only dangerously but actually until they break, until every aged,
wheezing, broken down, radiation riddled plant breaks.
And really, these are not going to be accidents, this is just the externalized
cost of doing business. A cost of doing business like salaries and wires.
When an "accident" happens the costs to the company are probably less
than a proper safe shutdown and dismantling a plant.
Free land buffer zone like a 50 mile radius is no problem and FREE.
Killed people? Free. Some cement and lawyer costs are a lot less than the
billions to properly close a plant and the environment standards of
closing a plant are far lower for an "accident" than a proper shut down
and dismantling of a plant.
Conclusion: Every nuclear reactor will run until inoperable because of accident.
If the economic externalized safety costs do not change there will
be dozens of serious reactor accidents over the next 100 years.