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UK Sticks With Nuclear Power 334

Posted by timothy
from the stay-calm-and-carry-iodine dept.
Coisiche writes "Despite recent events in Japan and the certain public outcry that it will generate, the UK government proposes to build new nuclear power stations. Well, earthquakes and tsunamis are very rare here."
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UK Sticks With Nuclear Power

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  • Good! (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Saturday June 25, 2011 @04:55AM (#36565922)

    Good!

  • Obvious (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Saturday June 25, 2011 @04:57AM (#36565928)

    The UK, like many countries, has committed to a substantial drop in CO2 emissions. Nuclear is obviously going to have to be a major component in that.

  • Thorium anyone? (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Saturday June 25, 2011 @05:07AM (#36565972)

    With the recent shit storm of FUD out there concerning nuclear power, I am shocked that there isn't a more vocal promotion of building/funding/using thorium salt reactors by the "scientific community". Although no technology is 100% safe, this seems to be the best middle ground when it comes to generating energy while not completely ruining the environment.

    • by EdZ (755139)
      There is. However, because of so little interest in it up to this point, it would have to go through the test reactor phase for a decade or two before being commercially viable.
    • No uranium (Score:4, Interesting)

      by mdsolar (1045926) on Saturday June 25, 2011 @06:43AM (#36566488) Homepage Journal
      The UK has no uranium mining or reserves and thus is completely dependent on imports for its nuclear energy. Though less is known about thorium, it is not listed as having any reserves here: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Thorium [wikipedia.org] Particularly given the many many unaddressed problems with making a liquid salt reactor work (the last one never really did) and the huge clean up cost for using that kind of fuel, there does not seem to be any advantage for the UK to adopt thorium.
      • by Gordonjcp (186804)

        What do you need uranium for? It's completely useless as a nuclear fuel. Maybe you should start looking beyond 1950s-era reactors...

        • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

          by Anonymous Coward

          Thorium is sub-critical unless you use a particle accelerator (expensive) or uranium to kick it off.
          The other main complicating factor with Thorium, is lack of experience - the Oakridge Reactor did run fine for 4 years, but that was back in the 60's.

          WTB: process engineers who are also nuclear physicists ......

          The chemicals are cheap though, thorium isn't currently useful for much else and its as common as lead.
          Also unlike uranium it requires only purification not enrichment, so the price should get down to

      • by jeppen (1377103)
        You present FUD, and your name explains why. Thorium is so abundant, and the molten salt reactor need so little, that fuel availability will be no problem. And if you worry anyway, you can always buy 60 tonnes ($600,000 would be a reasonable price if thorium mining scales up) before you build the reactor. It needs one tonne per gigawatt-year, so that 60 tonnes would last the life-time of the reactor. Also, the liquid salt research reactors has worked very well. You do need to do some design and prototyping
      • Uranium has been mined in the UK before, it's just not economic at current prices.

        But even imports don't mean a significant security of supply issue, as uranium is trivial to stockpile. Plus we have a bucketload of plutonium at Sellafield that nobody seems to know what to do with. That could be made into MOX fuel if necessary.

    • by dbIII (701233)
      Anyone that pushed Thorium for safety reasons was thrown out of the industry for daring to suggest that the existing plants were not the safest thing possible. That's what happened in the 1950s and again in the 1990s.
      India was doing some interesting work with Thorium recently but recent developments there are favouring Uranium reactors that can be tied in to military uses and imported fuel instead.
    • by KreAture (105311)
      Finally someone daring to say that the dominant technology might not be the better one.
      Sure, it can create weapons grade stock for the military, and due to this focus we have more "experience with it", but that's about it.
      Experience is gained through research, but that was canned to "protect" the public by not spreading doubt about dominant tech.
      Time to dig out those experimental plans and do some real work for a change.

      I for once would like to see a low-pressure, intrinsically safe - self moderating,
  • ...that someone's not being completely reactionary about this. Maybe it's Torchwood?
    • No, Torchwood runs on rift energy. The Wylfa plant, now... That'll be Margaret Blaine's doing, and I know it has a major design flaw.

  • Not a problem (Score:5, Informative)

    by calzakk (1455889) on Saturday June 25, 2011 @05:11AM (#36565988) Journal

    Well, earthquakes and tsunamis are very rare here

    A serious understatement. While the UK does have the very occasional tremor, they're so minor that nothing more than a single roof tile has ever moved*. There are no active volcanoes. And hurricanes/tornadoes/etc are extremely rare.

    The UK must be one of the best places to build nuclear reactors.

    * I'm just assuming this. The point is that they are incredibly minor compared to earthquakes experienced by most other countries.

    • by neokushan (932374)

      When it comes to natural disasters in the UK, about the worst we ever get is a bit of flooding and even then, that's just certain regions, there's plenty of places to build a nuclear reactor that would be relatively safe.

      Except from terrorist attacks, of course, but we haven't quite pandered to fox news on that one just yet.

      • Well, you have to admit, the UK does have somewhat of a problem with terrorism, angry Irish who blew stuff up pretty steadily since the invention of gunpowder but have stopped, leaving a gap that has been more than filled by the UK's angry Muslim community. Her Majesty's government has never been afraid of pissing people off which is normally great, but does make nuclear power more complex.
        • Re:Not a problem (Score:5, Insightful)

          by TheRaven64 (641858) on Saturday June 25, 2011 @06:00AM (#36566290) Journal
          The UK's terrorism problem dropped significantly after September, 2001. Apparently something happened in the USA around then that stopped it being fashionable for people in New York to send money to fund terrorism. With their main supply of funding cut off, there was a much bigger incentive for them to reach a negotiated settlement.
          • by Kjella (173770)

            Most of the problem had gone away already in the 1998 Belfast agreement. 9/11 was more the double nails in the coffin, the funding on the one side and the belief in terrorism as a means to provoke political change on the other. The final remnants of the arsenal wasn't destroyed until 2005, but they were just holding on to it at the time. It should also be noted that the IRA struck mainly British armed forces and police officers, even though they had quite a few civilian losses as collateral damage.

            • Re:Not a problem (Score:4, Interesting)

              by isorox (205688) on Saturday June 25, 2011 @07:46AM (#36566826) Homepage Journal

              It should also be noted that the IRA struck mainly British armed forces and police officers, even though they had quite a few civilian losses as collateral damage.

              Which police were the IRA targeting when they planted a bomb outside McDonalds in Warrington on mothers day?
              Which armed forces were they targeting when they blew up Manchester a few years later?

              Tim Parry, aged 12 and Johnathan Ball, a 3 year old toddler, were killed in the American-funded murder in Warrington in 1993.

              4 years later Tim Parry's parents shared a platform and shook hands with Gerry Adams.

              After a terrible terrorist attack, three people do three things.

              Person A: Invades one country, then another, looking for the ring leader. Fails to find him, spends trillions on it.
              Person B: Sends troops into an ally's country, performs an extra-judicial killing, and buries the body at sea.
              Person C: Forms a Foundation for Peace, shares a platform and shakes hands with the ring leader.

              Who gets the Nobel Peace prize?

        • by Luckyo (1726890)

          "Angry Irish" had one of the best fire discipline of all times. They succeeded in bombing stuff that inflicted massive financial pain on Great Britain with minimal cost of lives, which was their entire goal - make the small patch of Ireland cost so much that it isn't worth it at the costs of minimal amount of civilian lives not to actually piss people off to go to a full out war (I'm not talking about special forces torture squads with various power drill fetishes).

          Blowing up a nuclear power plant isn't goi

          • by bheading (467684)

            It's interesting when you consider that none of the IRA's demands (ie the withdrawal of Britain from Ireland and the establishment of a 32-county Irish republic) were ever met. In fact, British withdrawal is probably further away now than it was when the IRA in its present guise got started in 1969.

            I'm wondering what you think the IRA's "modus operandi" is. This is an organization that build napalm-like incendiary bombs and set them off in hotels, restaurants and pubs where civilians gathered in large numbe

            • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

              This is an organization that build napalm-like incendiary bombs and set them off in hotels, restaurants and pubs where civilians gathered in large numbers. I don't see why you think they would hesitate to attack a nuclear power station or other such facility.

              I served in the British Army. When we started using warfare tactics such as full sized all out ambushes rather than just patrolling and playing at being targets, all of a sudden this supposed Irish army who had declared war against the UK decided that this wasn't fair when we went to war footing in some areas instead of policing and complained to the European Courts that we were being too heavy handed!! Err, who was it who said they were an army at war with the UK? The IRA attacked soft targets. Nuclear pow

              • by turgid (580780)

                Nuclear powerstations along with gas storage facilities are well guarded by armed guards.

                I wasn't aware of any armed guards at my nuclear power station in Essex back in the 90s. However, there were rumours that if you went for a walk out on the marshes, camouflage vehicles would appear from nowhere containing scary-looking people asking you awkward questions about what you were doing.

                I was too lazy to go out walking, so I suppose I'll never know.

            • by Luckyo (1726890)

              I think most of their real political goal have been met actually. That is end of GB's support for unionist paramilitaries, and especially their power-drill fetishist torture squads.

              Their modus operandi on England side was very clear: as much damage to corporate and government interests of GB as possible with minimal casualties. Hence, incendiary bombs that cause large scale fires, and warning well before they go off so that there is time to evacuate everyone. And in the end, when they managed to paralyze Lo

          • by EnglishTim (9662)

            Over a third of the people they killed were civilians. About half were military - most of the rest were police and other paramilitary group members. Perhaps in these days of regular drone attacks in Pakistan 33% collateral damage equates to 'the best fire discipline of all times', but it doesn't sound all that great to me.

            • by Luckyo (1726890)

              Do note the side of the big watery mass that their strikes that caused deaths took place, and who were the victims in there.

              Then note the vast discrepancy between those strikes and strikes that happened on English side.

          • The IRA destroyed the lives of thousands of innocent civilians with their sick US funded terrorist war, we have the even more vile bin laden to thank for cutting off their funds. There was nothing romantic about them, their main occupation was organised crime and their hobby was shooting the kneecaps off their own people they had dissagreements with. We are fighting hard for a political solution in the UK and listening to driveling idiots like you suggest that bringing back the violence is a great idea beca

        • The Islamic extremists are pretty pathetic compared to the IRA. One successful attack so far only.

          The thought occurs that the suicide bomber strategy is somewhat flawed. It's like a company firing its only successful employees.

      • Interesting that Dungeness did not make the cut. That is one of four sites that Greenpeace studied and found problems. http://www.greenpeace.org.uk/blog/nuclear/british-energy-reckons-nuclear-power-stations-are-safe-from-flooding-20071128 [greenpeace.org.uk] The UK does expect to have to use setbacks and dikes elsewhere.
    • by jonbryce (703250)

      There is typically a major earthquake, of the sort strong enough to for example demolish Canterbury Cathedral once every 100 years. We also usually have a tsunami about once every 100 years, though we haven't had one now for 300 years. While it is undoubtedly much more stable than most countries, it isn't completely risk free. If for example the volcano on Gran Canaria were to erupt, we would have a 10 meter tsunami flooding most of the west coast of Britain.

      • Are you sure about this? Canterbury Cathedral was damaged by an earthquake 600-odd years ago. It has never been "demolished" by an earthquake.

        • Well, you see, there's only one Canterbury Cathedral left. They don't tell you, but there have been ten of them, of which 9 have been demolished by earthquakes. They somehow managed to make everyone believe that those nine cathedrals did never exist. They even managed to erase all traces of those cathedrals, so even archaeologists won't ever find them. This shows you how powerful the nuclear lobby in the UK is. :-)

    • by mahju (160244)

      Yup, a pretty good place, but "...the risk of a tsunami impacting on the UK... is low, but that it cannot be discounted completely."
      http://www.nerc.ac.uk/using/casestudies/tsunamiuk.asp [nerc.ac.uk]

    • by Vaphell (1489021)

      not entirely true about the earthquakes
      http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_earthquakes_in_the_United_Kingdom [wikipedia.org]

  • by cormandy (513901) on Saturday June 25, 2011 @05:14AM (#36566020)

    What is the UK planning to do about nuclear waste? It cannot be kept in cooling ponds forever. I just watched the intriguing documentary Into Eternity the other day (99p rental on iTunes) about Onkalo, the massive network of tunnels the Finnish are digging in solid bedrock in which will become a giant subterranean depository for the country's nuclear waste. The documentary reminds us that nuclear waste remains harmful for something like 100,000 years, and shockingly they reveal that although Onkalo will be used only for Finnish nuclear waste, the country will need to dig many more Onkalos to handle all of it! What hope is there for countries that are not on a shield of bedrock? Why isn't Canada doing something similar? (Think Canadian Shield.) I recall the US was going to proceed with Yucca Mountain, but Obama slashed the budget that would have funded the work...

    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by Alioth (221270)

      The UK reprocesses spent fuel so there's a lot less waste to start off with.

      In any case, too much CO2 in the air remains harmful for thousands of years. However, the nuclear waste is all in a concentrated, known location instead of being spread around the world resulting in a global problem.

      • by MrHanky (141717) on Saturday June 25, 2011 @05:39AM (#36566172) Homepage Journal

        You mean you drop it into the ocean [wikipedia.org].

      • by citizenr (871508)

        In any case, too much CO2 in the air remains harmful for thousands of years.

        Nice, you got modded insightful for saying plant food is harmful.

        • by Arlet (29997) on Saturday June 25, 2011 @07:53AM (#36566868)

          Nice, you got modded insightful for saying plant food is harmful

          And rightly so. The fact that something has useful properties doesn't mean it isn't harmful in other places. Plants also need water, and we still consider floods to be harmful.

          The test of a first rate intelligence is the ability to hold two opposed ideas in the mind at the same time, and still retain the ability to function.

      • by radio4fan (304271)

        The UK reprocesses spent fuel so there's a lot less waste to start off with.

        Well, we did for a while. Now we're just storing it again.

        THORP was closed in 'temporarily' 2005 after a big leak, and due to various problems isn't up and running again yet.

        The idea was that it would reprocess spent fuel for other countries for cash, but lost its biggest client (Japan) when it was found that BNFL was faking safety data. So with that and the leak, THORP turned out to be a huge white elephant. It's a shame, but about par for the course for the UK's nuclear power industry.

        France have the COGE

    • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

      by Anonymous Coward

      I'm sorry, you must have misread, they plan on building NEW reactors. You know like the type that could say, run on waste, or the type that generate very little waste at all, our the type that generates waste that remains radioactive for decades not centuries.

      Failing that, if the do decide to build a soviet era reactor and shun 40 years of technical progress, the UK has existing very nasty reactors and along with it an existing waste management strategy, be it dump it in the ground, our sell it to someone w

      • by wisty (1335733)

        So new reactors might be a nice way to reprocess waste from the old reactors.

      • I'm sorry, you must have misread, they plan on building NEW reactors. You know like the type that could say, run on waste

        Accelerated Thorium reactors look like they could run on SOME high grade waste such as spent fuel rods from other plants and expired weapon materials - but there hasn't been one designed or built anywhere yet. Nothing else comes close to your dream.

        or the type that generate very little waste at all

        No such thing unless you redefine "little" to mean whatever you want it to be.

        the type that

    • by neokushan (932374)

      I watched that same documentary, I fully agree it was very interesting and insightful.

      However, as naive as this probably sounds, I don't think burying the nuclear waste is the right course of action. As the documentary points out, suitable locations are rare, it's expensive and even Onkalo is no guarantee that future civilisations won't try to dig down far enough to find out what's down there.

      I also don't think we should ignore nuclear power, either. It has tremendous benefits and although its very dangerou

    • by Gordonjcp (186804)

      What is the UK planning to do about nuclear waste?

      There's no such thing as nuclear waste. There's only stuff you haven't configured your mixed oxide plant for yet.

      • Sorry, but the cargo cult only gets you so far before real physics comes in and burns your foot. There is, very obviously, such a thing as nuclear waste and if you had spent your time learning about nuclear power instead of swallowing the crap from clueless PR fools you would know that your suggestion only covers a fraction of the waste.
        It's this counterproductive and idiotic bullshit that resulted in research on how to deal with nuclear waste getting held up for nearly forty years. Look up synrock and wh
    • by ultranova (717540)

      What hope is there for countries that are not on a shield of bedrock?

      I dunno, figure out how whatever keeps them floating in the air works and tap that?

      • by Arlet (29997)

        Parent probably means countries where the bedrock isn't close to the surface. In some places, it's more than a mile deep, which isn't going to be very practical.

        • by dkf (304284)

          Parent probably means countries where the bedrock isn't close to the surface. In some places, it's more than a mile deep, which isn't going to be very practical.

          Most countries have bedrock closer to the surface than that, even if not everywhere. Moreover, mining to more than a mile down isn't too hard, especially if you're not digging through a coal seam (when you would have gas problems). The main issue with deep mines is usually just water ingress, but not all sites have that problem. For example, Boulby [wikipedia.org] (a salt mine) is nearly a mile deep. The only reason we don't normally go down that far is because it's expensive and what we're after is typically closer to the

  • Now they just need to make them Thorium reactors. Safety issues: solved.

  • The Scottish Government doesn't agree.

    http://www.scotland.gov.uk/News/Releases/2011/05/31082406 [scotland.gov.uk]

    Westminster aims to recover the power to build nuclear stations in Scotland with the passing of the Scotland bill/Calman commission. We export electricity to England as it is so perhaps the next generation of nuclear stations will be so safe they can be built in Battersea where it's needed.

    • The map of proposed reactor sites did seem a lot like the list of places as far away from London as possible. I was a bit surprised that there were no proposals in South Wales - we've still got quite a bit of industry that would benefit from local power production here. Battersea looks like an ideal location though. It's on the river, so has a good source of water for cooling, and it's surrounded by large electricity consumers. It was my first thought as a potential site too...
  • If there is a time to use it, this is it.
  • by Maimun (631984) on Saturday June 25, 2011 @07:29AM (#36566734)
    Nuclear power is unavoidable if we want to free ourselves from the oil&gas economy (because it makes us dependent on the Arabs, Iran, and Russia, and that is not a good thing). The windmills and solar panels are not an option. The controlled nuclear synthesis is far far away in time. For the near and not so near future, the nuclear fission is the way.
    • Actually, wind and geothermal should play a big part of UK (and USA's) energy future. To not, is just plain foolish. However, it would be just as foolish to depend on 100% of them considering that more and more advances are being done in weather control. In fact, all of the western nations should not allow a particular energy source as being more than 1/3, if not 1/4 of the market. For example, bring nukes up to 25% and stop there. Likewise, bring wind up to 25%, and geothermal up to 25%. Finally, the other
  • Same Old Same Old (Score:4, Interesting)

    by Doc Ruby (173196) on Saturday June 25, 2011 @08:08AM (#36566954) Homepage Journal

    We don't have as many earthquakes or tsunamis here as they have in Japan. But we do have exactly the same industry that's immune to public reaction or the liabilities of risk. The US reaction to Fukushima is to make laws to cap nuke plants liability in the event of catastrophe. Which means yet again the power corps (monopolies and cartels) have capitalism for profits, but socialism for losses. This is already true, because nuke plants are uninsurable in the market so the public covers their insurance. But now it's even more starkly true. And what's even more starkly true is that the US nuke government/industry complex is interested in only that "innovation", not in any other changes even when events confront us with the actual risks and damages from these expensive, hazardous boondoggles our Cold War legacy has forced on us.

    The technical problems can be patched. The business problems, especially the corruption of a government captured by the industry it regulates, show no sign of any of hope for patch. And that means not even the necessary technical solutions will be applied, when they cost a little profit.

  • In particular, we need the thorium reactors similar to what Ft. St. Vrain had.
    In addition, we really should be working towards SMALL-MEDIUM MANUFACTURED reactors ideally, doing IFR. With that approach, we can burn up what we have, rather than pay the high costs of storage.

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