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The Nuclear Tourist
Voices from the dark
Progress has been defined many ways. It is
generally considered to be a good thing, and is associated
with improvement, and the advance of the human condition.
This has, historically, proven to be the case.
The enemies of progress, as well as the activist groups which they
support, and into which they coalesce, would love to see nuclear power, at least
in the U,S, go away. For one thing, it would damage the country, since it
accounts for 20% of our electricity supply. Even more important, it would
greatly weaken our military. Plutonium is a waste product of present
I mentioned previously that virtually unlimited energy is the key to progress, civilization, and a high standard of living. It is also the key to spreading the benefits of civilization to the entire world. This might be the key, or at least part of it, to understanding why there is so much opposition to nuclear energy, by some groups, particularly by those in power. The powerful, have a great interest in stopping the clock, halting progress, and maintaining the status quo. The failed, lazy, or irresponsible, have no interest in seeing themselves fall even further behind. These two groups tend to be the biggest opponents to progress, or at least to the wide availability of the fruits of progress. The middle class will be the biggest loser, if these groups should succeed.
Progress is a friend to the middle class; but a terrible enemy to the very rich and the very poor. The internet is a perfect example. For the average citizen, it is a great thing. The whole world is at your finger tips, knowledge, opinion, communication. It is a great equalizer, and tool for empowerment. For the poor, ignorant, lazy, and failed, it is nothing. For these people, it is just one more thing that they can not, or will not do; putting them that much further below the average.
For the rich, and powerful, the internet is nothing special. They have always had access to the world, knowledge, communication, and opinion, and to the power that these all convey. What the internet does, is make this kind of power available to the average person. This lessens, at least in this one respect, the advantage that these people have held, empowering the average citizen. Nuclear power is another such thing.
A map of proposed new construction of nuclear plants is shown to the left. The power generating capacity of this nation has increased little, over the past several decades. Even so, population, and energy demands have increased. What this translates to is rate increases, and the occasional power outage, or brownout, along with constant incentives to conserve, and even laws penalizing those who will not. With enough power, anything is possible. With a shortage of power, nothing is possible, except to those who have access to what power there is. Power equates to wealth. Shortages also make possible increased control of others over the loves of the average citizen. During wartime, governments generally resort to rationing, in order to insure sufficient supply of war materials, and to prevent, or at least discourage hoarding. Note that with sufficient supplies, the need for rationing, hoarding, and government control of gods and service are not issues. So what about in peace time?
On the other hand, perhaps
carter was not so incompetent after all. Having trained to become a nuclear engineer
in the navy, it seems that carter's destruction of the American nuclear
industry, and the subsequent weakening of the country had to be intentional. His
activities, since losing the presidency seem to reinforce this conclusion.
Carter has been consistently working with the enemies of the
In addition, The United States, has been hamstrung by these same regulations into only using the most inefficient and outdated form of nuclear reactor - the moderated reactor, generally with light water as the moderator. Such a reactor is only about 3% efficient, at the very best, and often quite a bit less. Even so, such a reactor is safer, uses less fuel, produces far less pollution, and costs less to run, than a conventional coal plant. This is only relevant, as long as nuclear fuel can be found. This type of reactor can only be used with enrichment of U235 to levels of 3% - 5%, which at present levels of technology will only last 60 - 100 years. This could be stretched out, many times, by recycling, as 97% - 98% of what we throw away could be processed, and burned. It is pretty interesting, that the same nut case (carter), who made a federal regulation limiting us to 55 M.P.H. to save a bit of gas, and created the EPA to force us all to recycle milk cartons, and newspapers, also forced us into the wholesale waste of one of our most valuable resources. So we are limited to a gallon, when we flush our toilets; but were forced by federal mandate to expensively dispose of billions of potential megawatts worth of nuclear fuel.
Of course, it is not
enough to merely weaken the
The United States has more nuclear reactors, by far, than any other nation; but these were all built decades ago, with the last ones being ordered in the seventies. The talent pool, manufacturing facilities, and inertia, by which we became a nuclear power, have been allowed (or intentionally maneuvered) to decline to the point of near non-existence. Were a miracle to occur, and construction of a new reactor to be permitted, who would build it? The reactor vessel itself would have to be ordered from Japan Steel Works, the only company in the world (at least in the free world), which is capable of casting such a structure. At best we are talking five to ten years, before a reactor could be approved, ordered, financed, and the vessel finished. By that time, it would be nearly forty years since the most recent reactor construction. Such a job would almost literally be starting from scratch. There will certainly be no old hands, experienced supervisors, or knowledgeable construction managers to give any such a project continuity with the decades of experience this country had acquired in nuclear engineering. Indeed, there are practically no nuclear engineers, since it has been nearly impossible to make a living as such for decades. So much for our nuclear infrastructure, once the finest, and most cutting edge in the world; but what about our nuclear fuel supply?
Reserves of nuclear fuel, could last us 60 - 100 years, at present levels of consumption. This assumes the continued disposal of spent rods without recycling, and the continued use of the light water moderated reactor. There is no technical, safety, or economic reason for continuing with the light water reactors, or the present methods of disposing of spent fuel - both decisions were made by politicians, due to political considerations. Both decisions have harmed the country; but have benefited certain politicians and certain politically motivated groups. Both were also lauded by foreign rivals, and declared enemies, even as these same states have desperately worked to develop their own nuclear technologies. It is high time to abandon both.
Recycling our spent fuel rods would give us access to another 43,000 tons of fuel, just sitting in waste dumps. Even in today's light water reactors, such an amount of fuel could last for centuries; but there is more. Recycling spent fuel rods, and replacing today's light water reactors with fast reactors would guarantee a dependable power supply for thousands of years. Think of the possibilities. Coal plants could be shut down, electric cars could be designed to be charged from the abundance of nuclear power, ending our present dependence on oil, and on the barbaric states through which we receive much of our supply. It would also end much of the control that our own government exercises over us.
With coal and oil use ended or greatly reduced, what need would there be for the EPA, or for most of today's conservation mafia? For that matter, with a virtually unlimited supply of electricity, what need would there be for the continued existence of the Department of Energy? Considering these questions, you have to ask what the true motivations of these people are, and who they really work for. Apparently it is not for us.
Other than procurement of the materials (Plutonium, or Highly Enriched Uranium), the construction of a nuclear warhead is uses conventional processes, and materials. This is, in fact, the biggest real safety valve, to nuclear proliferation. Construction of the weapon itself, once these materials are available in sufficient quality, is relatively simple (Hey, the U.S. did it in 1945). On the other hand, production of efficient, high yield devices, particularly in small packages, is quite an example of cutting edge technology; but with the incredible power potential of nuclear explosives, even a crude weapon is incredibly destructive. There are a number of anti nuclear groups, which like to use shock tactics and tell us that any college physics student (some even say high school science student) could make a nuclear bomb. They like to cite the ease of manufacture of the gun type weapon, and are quite correct, in their limited way; but they are also dead wrong, in any practical sense
For a number of years, the anti nuclear forces used scare tactics, threats of radioactive poisoning, and the lie that a nuclear reactor was a latent nuclear bomb, to get their way. Over the years, real scientist and engineers have had time to disprove and react to the politically motivated poor so called science of the anti nuclear left, and these old arguments are seldom used, except on the most uninformed audiences. This is, I believe, the reason for the change in tactics on the part of the anti nuclear left. With the amazing safety record of the nuclear industry, and a little bit better understanding, on the part of the public, of how nuclear reactors, and then nuclear bombs work, it is getting more difficult to make the old safety and latent bomb arguments, without looking pretty silly. Instead, the new tool with which to hammer at the nuclear industry, is the threat of proliferation. This will soon be proven as false as the old arguments; but if it delays things for ten more years, that will be ten more years to find yet another specious argument. And so it goes. The only way to end this continued foolishness, is to recognize these people as the enemies of progress, civilization, the middle class, and our own prosperity.
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