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Sunday, February 12, 2012

Mo Nukes

It remains to be seen what activists and lawsuits will make of this when all is said and done (I am far from despair yet), but the Nuclear Regulatory Commission has approved the building of the first nuclear power plant in three decades, presumably to be built in Georgia (a state where Republicans in power pray for rain rather than maintaining water infrastructure, and presumably will soon enough be praying away meltdowns rather than implementing competent gu'ment regulation).

Of course, nuclear energy is absolutely unsafe (and approval of a nuclear plant in the immediate aftermath of the Fukushima nuclear disaster in Japan is an obscenity, plain and simple), and of course nuclear energy is ruinously expensive (compare the freakout over the Federal investment in Solyndra, less than one sixteenth the investment in this dangerous, unpopular, ungainly nuclear plant, compare the rejection of nuclear energy and extraordinary investments instead in renewable forms of energy across the EU).

I remain convinced that solar rooftops, geothermal residential heating/cooling systems, even white rooftops, porches, attic fans, energy efficient appliances could address our energy needs incomparably more cheaply and safely than some white elephant archipelago of insanely expensive and dangerous new nuclear plants leaving the planet of countless centuries of poison to contend with nobody knows how even if they don't blow up as at least a few are nearly certain to do... but I suspect that the decentralization of the energy grid by such distributed system, whatever its greater efficiency, resilience, longevity, wholesomeness, threatens elite-incumbent interests that would prefer the control afforded by the kinds of centralized industrial infrastructure nuclear energy that recapitulates the plutocratic extractive-industrial models of the historical meta-bubble of Petrochemical Modernity.

1 comment:

jollyspaniard said...

I had a hard time letting nukes go. When I was a kid I'd get my dad to drive me to the Pickering Nuclear power plant. I'd marvel at the cooling towers and gaze in wonder at man's taming of the atom. We were tapping into more elemental forces than mere oxidizing chemicals. That was progress. Next stop fusion.

But we didn't tame the atom, we were fooling ourselves. We're spending a few billion on a new containment facility for Chernobyle that will kick the can 100 years down the road. The Chernobyl disaster never ended, it's been merely paused. 100 years from now Ukrainians will have to create a new cathedral sized sarcophagus or face plutonium dust dispersing into their environment. Somehow I don't think they'll be grateful. They could build a new containment facility every century I suppose. Twenty four thousand years from now they can throw themselves a big half life party, just 50,000 more years of this and we can relax!

I think the anti nuclear movement has done itself a massive disservice by opposing long term disposal of nuclear waste. By doing so we've created the illusion in people's minds that the problem of moving this waste into permanent storage has somehow gone away.

Perhaps Greens in the US should make proposals for long term nuclear waste storage facilities in all the swing states. I expect support for nuclear power to decay with a half life of 2 years under such conditions.