Aug 02, 2012

Nuclear Is Not As Damaging To The Environment As Hydro, Coal, or Fracking

written by Michael Launer

On 21 July 2012 the Renewable Energy World website carried a blog entry entitled “What the Wonderful Wizard of Oz Can Teach Solar” written by Paula Mints @ Navigant Consulting. Among the many comments elicited by this contribution was one that contained the following comment:

“Damming rivers, coal, fracking and nuclear??? No one I know or trust has any idea of the true cost of the extremely complex alterations to the world's environment and all life on earth caused by these energy technologies.”

The inclusion of nuclear power in this list seems entirely out of place to me.

There is nothing anyone can do to mitigate the detrimental secondary effects caused by damming rivers, burning coal, or using current fracturing methods. But why include nuclear here?

Chernobyl was caused by a terrible reactor design built in a country that privileged obedience and continued production over the safe operation of an advanced technology. Fukushima Dai-ichi was caused by a flawed design basis threat analysis in a country that privileges obedience and respect for authority over the safe operation of an advanced technology. But TMI proved that proper engineering and safety analysis can overcome even the worst technological accidents.

Whatever the general public may believe, environmental disasters at commercial nuclear facilities are not inevitable. Accidents? Yes - all technological systems are subject to off-normal events, including accidents. But the knowledge exists to minimize the impact of such accidents, assuming there is sufficient political will to insist on stringent regulation.

As far as nuclear power production is concerned, it is difficult to make a case for the inevitability of 'extremely complex alterations to the world's environment and all life on earth.'

Not so for the other technologies discussed here, however.

Can You Profit from Interpreting & Translation Services?

request a quote
or 850.562.9811