As the title of this page is on nuclear power, I will start by asking:
—–Is nuclear power worth the risk?
Instantly, I will turn the question to:
—–Is refusal of nuclear power worth the risk?

To put the issue into perspective, I feel it is necessary to start with some examples to show how we react to the concept of risk.

A random bullet

Theoretically it is possible to be hit by a stray bullet from a gang conflict or a terrorist’s desire for death and destruction.
Nevertheless, we regard it as foolish of caution if you use a bulletproof vest before going to the mailbox with a letter.
But you take on the seat belt. Not only because the police require it.

What is security?
How is security perceived ?

Already here I come to ask questions, to which I cannot give an answer.
However, I emphasize that the desire for 100% security is an illusion.

The Illogical Human

I’ll start by showing an example of how we are not able to assess the concept of security – logically.

Vacation in Yugoslavia
In the good old days many German tourists had a good holiday in what was a very peaceful Yugoslavia.
Of course there were those, who home in a coffin.
———- You know: Bad roads and bad drivers.
But one year one man came home with only one leg because the other had been eaten by a shark!
The following year the tourist flow halved.
Of course, the situation soon returned to normal.

Falsified “Information”

For reasons best understood by others, there is almost no end to the erroneous “information” that is flowing out of the media.
Most from the so-called green organizations.

Greenpeace
On another page, I have shown how Greenpeace’s Credibility is a Myth.

Denmark’s Radio
On this page I have shown how Denmark’s Radio presented clearly falcified “information” in connection with the disasters at Chernobyl and Fukushima.
Despite calls it was not possible to persuade the Danish Radio to retract.

The Ocean at Fukushima
Near the end of this page you can follow the outrageous claims made by unnamed sources.

The actual topic:

(Redundant) safety of nuclear

After these initial assessments, I come to what perhaps is the point.

The Dilemma of Western Nuclear

Of course, you wonder when you look at the following:

– Cheapest nuclear power from ‘old systems’ (Sweden) 26 €/MWh
– Cheapest nuclear power from new power plants (Korea): 27 €/MWh
– Most expensive new nuclear (Hinkley Point C): € 124/MWh

The highly publicized reactor EPR

Core Catcher
One of the expensive safety systems in the disastrously expensive reactor EPR is a so-called Core Catcher.

Although the cooling-system, quite naturally, is with a lot of extra security. The design goes one step further and says:

If there is an error on all four independent cooling-systems, there shall be something ‘capturing’ the molten core, which in the nuclear jargon is called the corium.
Only this core catcher together with additional reinforcement of the reactor containment makes EPR 15% more expensive than other reactors.

EPR Core Catcher
This core catcher would have had no meaning and would not have remedied any harm in connection with the more than 15,000 reactor-years, there has been nuclear power in the West.
The four independent systems for cooling, in four different buildings, is in itself a costly (excessive?) security, resulting in increased cost of this design.

If available data are to be believed. Then the return period for a core meltdown in this reactor will be two million years.
Considering that the core-meltdown at Three Mile Island did not result in injuries – Yes, then it feels to be reasonably when reactors from Russia, China and Korea are without this and other (unnecessary?) details.

Fit for the market?
On the net site Energy Post you can find a thorough assessment of the nagging problem:
Is the EPR nuclear reactor fit for the current market?
The following is what I consider the main points.

  • Before the disaster at Fukushima UAE selected a well known and tested design (Generation II +) from Korea instead of the advanced, unproven and expensive EPR
    It is suggested that the choice might have been different if the bidding round had been post-Fukushima.
    ——– “One kan say that EPR’s design was “over-delivering” in ——– terms of safety for 2009 Abu Dhabi (UAE)
    ——– But is seriously well-suited in a post-Fukushima world.”
    I add and modify to write: “In a post-Fukushima hysteria.”
  • In the UK, they are apparently afraid of a very powerful solar storm, can destroy the computer systems.
    (Catastrophic solar storms are extremely rare and will be announced in due time so that you can take necessary precautions.)
    ——- “In addition, new demands from the UK regulator – Such – ——- as the existence of a non-computerized safety system imply ——– that additional costs must be undertaken”.
  • Other countries have other, costly and seemingly unreasonable, demands.
    Also these requirements are in effect a needless and costly desire for more security.
  • It is tempting to blame the national security units to lay down special rules in order to show:
    “See how careful we are. Our work shows that we are not superfluous”.
  • Here it can even be said that the EU lacks harmonized provisions for many details. Various demands for safety thus complicates planning and approval.

Filter at Barsebäck

In connection with the reactors at Barsebäck in Sweden, there was a filter with 17,000 tons of granite chippings.
Such a filter was recommended and would have been useful at a place like Fukushima where there was a known danger of earthquakes and tsunami.
But it will hardly be relevant (be superfluous) at the reactors that have been, and will be build in Europe.

Waste

Swedish wasteAgain and again we hear that the waste problem is not solved.

Instead of taking this – obvious fake – claim up to an objective discussion:
In my opinion we have jumped on the usual limed twig and ‘just’ increased safety.
Far beyond what is necessary.

Although the costs are small, it is almost ridiculous to see how it goes zik zak deep into the mountain.

In comparison with the value of the energy produced it is pennies.
Still this is absurd added security.
The trend is clear.

How much should be deposited?

If information from World Nuclear stands to ge believed, we find discriminatory and obsolete safety requrements as soon as the case relates to nuclear power:

For example, scrap steel from gas plants can be recycled if it has less than 500,000 Bq/kg radioactivity (The exceptional level).
This level is a thousand times higher than the permissible levels of material (both steel and concrete) from the nuclear industry.
Here everything above 500 Bq/kg, cannot be released from regulatory control for recycling.

Although the text is a bit vague, it is hardly debatable that this factor of 1000 related to what is being defined as hazardous testifies obsolete or deliberately costly safety requirements for nuclear power.

Pollution

Almost in an aside Wikipedia writes that one ton of radioactive waste is equivalent to a reduction of CO2 emissions of 25 million tons.
Moreover, you will find much other pollution: For example, mercury, arsenic and radioactive isotopes.
This massive pollution is ‘just’ discharged in the environment, while the radioactive waste from nuclear treated carefully.
The proper treatment of this waste is hardly superfluous.
But sometimes you feel a lack of proportion.

A logical assessment

I will conclude my incoherent assessment of the following:

Combat Cholera
A student in Tanzania should present a thesis.
She had planned a road to bypass a city where the through traffic was a big challenge.
Eventually, she was asked if she would recommend that this project should be realized.
To everyone’s surprise, she replied:
“If the purpose is to save lives. The money should be used to fight the cholera!”

Conclusion

When is something superfluous?
Actually I should stop here and ask you, my unknown reader, to consider the situation and draw your own conclusion.

Nevertheless, I cannot resist referring to other – more or less relevant details – I, over the years, have accumulated:

Related to this entry:
Why is nuclear power so expensive?
and
Assessment of risk
Naturally also:
Greenpeace’s credability is a myth
If you are not tired, also:
Injuries from radiation
Deaths at Chernobyl
Radiation and cancer
Damage caused by noise from wind turbines.

Greetings and good reflection
Thorkil Søe

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