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McCain Backs Nuclear Power 1563

Posted by CmdrTaco
from the all-it-takes-is-peak-oil dept.
bagsc writes "Senator John McCain set out another branch of his energy policy agenda today, with a key point: 45 new nuclear power plants by 2030." So it finally appears that this discussion is back on the table. I'm curious how Nevada feels about this, as well as the Obama campaign. All it took was $4/gallon gas I guess. When it hits $5, I figure one of the campaigns will start to promote Perpetual Motion.
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McCain Backs Nuclear Power

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  • Seriously, WTF? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by N8F8 (4562) on Thursday June 19, 2008 @08:48AM (#23853923)
    Nuclear is the best option. Equating it with perpetual motion shows YOUR ignorance. Hate makes you stupid.
    • Re:Seriously, WTF? (Score:4, Interesting)

      by brunes69 (86786) <slashdot@kei r s t ead.org> on Thursday June 19, 2008 @08:52AM (#23853989) Homepage
      Nuclear is the current best option yes, but you shouldn't dump all your eggs into one basket either.

      There is a very limited supply of easily accessable fissable material on earth. The more plants we build the more the cost of *THAT* will go up.

      People really need to start investing in sustainable renewable energy, things like tidal, wind, solar, and what IMO is the most untapped, geothermal. Seriously, we have all these active volcanos around the planet exerting kilotons of energy spewing gasses into the air and creating massive amounts of heat, why aren't we harnessing that more?
      • Re:Seriously, WTF? (Score:5, Informative)

        by oodaloop (1229816) on Thursday June 19, 2008 @08:57AM (#23854111)
        There's plenty of fissionable material, especially if you include the recyclable secondary material, somewhere in the neighborhood of 1,000 years' worth I once heard. I'd hate to strip mine half the planet to get it, but I suppose it's a better choice in the near term than burning all our oil.
        • Re:Seriously, WTF? (Score:4, Insightful)

          by vidarh (309115) <vidar@hokstad.com> on Thursday June 19, 2008 @09:15AM (#23854447) Homepage Journal
          1000 years worth assuming how many reactors covering how large a percent of our energy needs?

          And recoverable at what cost (money and/or energy)?

          it doesn't help much if we have a 1000 years worth of fissionable material if the cost of mining a large chunk of it is so high it's not cost effective for most uses.

          Not saying nuclear isn't an option, but while a number like "1,000 years worth" might sound high, it might also be very low if it's a measure of how long the materials will last at current usage levels.

          • Re:Seriously, WTF? (Score:5, Insightful)

            by tha_mink (518151) on Thursday June 19, 2008 @09:21AM (#23854569)

            1000 years worth assuming how many reactors covering how large a percent of our energy needs?
            The reserve is based on the current price of the material and the current drain on that reserve. So actually, if the price goes up, that means there's more available because you can spend more to get to it. Kinda like the oil reserve. The more the price spikes, the more that can be spent on drilling, recovery, refining, etc. So there you have it.
          • Re:Seriously, WTF? (Score:5, Insightful)

            by torkus (1133985) on Thursday June 19, 2008 @09:39AM (#23855013)
            Or someone decides to ignore silly public paranoia and starts building breeder reactors or higher density reactors that 'burn' more than ~10% of the fissile material in their fuel.

            Or with breeder reactors you basically have unlimited fuel. They're more complex to design perhaps but are certainly a solution to your claimed "problem".

            Also - you probably read a few of the same articles i did about there not being enough fissile uranium around. The catch is it assumes a fixed (and rather low) cost as the ceiling. Once you increase that it becomes a non-issue even without breeder reactors. And before you compare tripling the price of uranium fuel to oil at $140 a barrel - the fuel cost for a nuclear plant is a rather small % of it's operating cost. It's not like they burn a trainload of uranium every few days like a coal plant.

            I don't know the details of McCain's "backing" but if it results in more ecconomical and plentiful nuclear plants i'm all for it.
            • Re:Seriously, WTF? (Score:5, Informative)

              by networkconsultant (1224452) on Thursday June 19, 2008 @10:13AM (#23855857)
              Nuclear Information [world-nuclear.org] Generation IV reactors are horribly efficient, even the lest efficient CANDU's use about 8 to 10KG of fuel / day, most reactors are designed to used unprocessed fuel (U238 or Enriched Blackshale) or fuel that requires very little development, the nice thing about the new designs is that they all use light water or liquid sodium.
        • Re:Seriously, WTF? (Score:5, Informative)

          by Anonymous Coward on Thursday June 19, 2008 @09:21AM (#23854565)
          With effective breeder reactors, thorium utilization, and REPROCESSING the number is closer 100,000 years.
        • Re:Seriously, WTF? (Score:5, Informative)

          by russotto (537200) on Thursday June 19, 2008 @09:37AM (#23854935) Journal

          There's plenty of fissionable material, especially if you include the recyclable secondary material
          And there's the key. The US stopped reprocessing under Carter, which greatly reduces the magnitude of fuel available while simultaneously massively increasing the waste stream.
      • Re:Seriously, WTF? (Score:5, Insightful)

        by SatanicPuppy (611928) * <Satanicpuppy&gmail,com> on Thursday June 19, 2008 @09:11AM (#23854367) Journal
        Because volcano's don't conveniently locate themselves next to large population centers?

        Solar and Wind are nice and all, but it's Nuclear power that's going to pull our eco-bacon out of the fire; it is the cleanest source of power per kwh that we've got. Once we start reprocessing the waste, we'll be able to sustain output for a long time.
      • by hatchet (528688) on Thursday June 19, 2008 @09:12AM (#23854395) Homepage
        We only need enough fission fuel to last us for 50 years... after that we can count on fusion. Fusion is the future.
      • Re:Seriously, WTF? (Score:4, Insightful)

        by COMON$ (806135) * on Thursday June 19, 2008 @09:19AM (#23854539) Journal
        I have a friend of mine who is an engineer for the public power district out here. He mentioned that Nuclear power has come a long way in being efficient with it's waste product. Eg recycling it back into the plant and whatnot. So I think as we get more nuclear power plants going and more resources pushed in that direction we will see even higher efficiency levels.

        However, the greatest untapped energy source is, and always will be the sun. Things like using solar panels at your house and being more energy efficient will be our greatest step towards solving our energy problems. People themselves need to start taking their energy use into their own hands. Their are entire neighborhoods in the US who are self sufficient and actually give energy back. There is no reason why this idea cannot spread to more of the US. So rather than relying on 3rd party for all your needs, start thinking of how you can help at home.

      • Re:Seriously, WTF? (Score:5, Insightful)

        by homer_s (799572) on Thursday June 19, 2008 @09:21AM (#23854577)
        People really need to start investing in sustainable renewable energy, things like tidal, wind, solar, and what IMO is the most untapped, geothermal. Seriously, we have all these active volcanos around the planet exerting kilotons of energy spewing gasses into the air and creating massive amounts of heat, why aren't we harnessing that more?

        If it were economical to harness energy from all those sources, don't you think the greedy capitalists would've been all over it?
        The reason nobody wants to harness those sources is because they are inefficient compared to coal and oil. Spending money to get energy from inefficient sources only makes mankind poorer.
        • Re:Seriously, WTF? (Score:5, Insightful)

          by loshwomp (468955) on Thursday June 19, 2008 @10:21AM (#23856041)

          If it were economical to harness energy from all those sources, don't you think the greedy capitalists would've been all over it?
          Pure capitalism doesn't work well, here, because it's so easy to externalize your costs on the rest of society. In other words, burning coal seems cheap and great because you're probably not accounting for the cost of global warming, acid rain, etc. Power companies (and, by proxy, their customers) "externalize" these costs onto the rest of the world.
    • Re:Seriously, WTF? (Score:5, Insightful)

      by nurb432 (527695) on Thursday June 19, 2008 @09:00AM (#23854167) Homepage Journal
      I don't think it was actually ignorance, it was just showing his irrational bias against nuclear and trying to lump it into fantasy land to influence peoples thinking.

      But i agree with you, it didn't really have the effect he was thinking.

      However, i would go so far as to say while nuclear is an very important piece of the domestic energy puzzle and needs to be brought back on track, its just one piece.
    • Re:Seriously, WTF? (Score:5, Interesting)

      by cayenne8 (626475) on Thursday June 19, 2008 @09:03AM (#23854227) Homepage Journal
      Nuclear promotion? Good start. Let's hope they couple it with breeder reactors, to really stretch the fuel and decrease the waste.

      Also...let's start drilling for our own oil reserves!! We have bans on drilling off of the east coast, the west coast, and even the eastern part of the Gulf. We have the capability to drill safely these days. Who knows...we might hit the motherload like Brazil did recently that I hear of?

      We have TONS of shale oil that is starting to get cost efficient to process.

      Why not do all these that are possible now to help our oil needs WHILE putting tons of money and research into the other alternative fuels?? I'm excited about ramping up , wind, solar and biofuels (particularly the algae and other processes to make fuel out of waste)...but, we need more oil now to ease the pain till the switchover.

      In the US, we have got to get over the NIMBY. The gulf coast has carried the 'burden' for the drilling and refining for decades...we have to start having the whole country contribute...repeal the bans on drilling....

    • by Moryath (553296) on Thursday June 19, 2008 @09:05AM (#23854265)
      ...to start reversing the DEPLORABLE conditions started by Jimmy "I'm a fucking moron" Carter.

      You know - the guy who thought that if the US didn't RECYCLE nuclear waste back into fuel (which would SOLVE the "nuclear waste storage" issue) it would be an "example" to tin-pot dictatorships and insane genocidal religious nations like North Korea, Pakistan, India, Iran, Syria, China... and they wouldn't try to get nuclear weapons. Yeah, how'd that work out for us?

      The guy who coddled so-called "environmentalists" to the point where we haven't built SAFE, CLEAN electrical power generation anywhere because nobody can get past the permits process and NIMBY enviro-wacko whining.

      Think about it - even the founder of Greenpeace [wikinews.org] (who long ago left the organization when it became obvious the commies and inmates were running the asylum and not interested in real, rational discussion) says we need nuclear energy because so-called "renewable" sources are inherently (a) unreliable and (b) limited in the scope of what we can do with them.
  • by Meor (711208) on Thursday June 19, 2008 @08:49AM (#23853937)
    I would support this and would allow it in my back yard.
  • Now all we need... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by oodaloop (1229816) on Thursday June 19, 2008 @08:53AM (#23854001)
    are 45 backyards in which to build them.

    Seriously, the NIMBY (not in my nackyard) and BANANA (build absolutely nothing anywhere near anything) mentalities have held back nuclear power as much as anything else, especially after TMI. Getting local communities to agree to construction will be no small task.
    • by Cutie Pi (588366) on Thursday June 19, 2008 @09:24AM (#23854661)
      Ah yes, TMI.

      The amazing thing about TMI is that, had everyone left things alone and let the automated safety systems do their job, a normal shutdown would have occurred. Instead, the human operators intervened and basically did everything they could to cause a meltdown. Nonetheless, the whole thing went out with a fizzle, with essentially zero radiation being emitted to the outside. You'd probably receive more radiation smoking a pack of cigarettes or flying across country than you would have sitting in TMI's backyard.

      Nonetheless I'm sure when the general population hears TMI they think (OMFG! Meltdown!!!!!111)
      • by PMuse (320639) on Thursday June 19, 2008 @09:46AM (#23855177)

        Ah yes, TMI. . . . the whole thing went out with a fizzle, with essentially zero radiation being emitted to the outside. You'd probably receive more radiation smoking a pack of cigarettes or flying across country than you would have sitting in TMI's backyard.
        Mod parent up.

        Number of people dead due to TMI incident [wikipedia.org]: zero.
        Number of health problems conclusively linked to TMI incident: zero.
        Amount of radiation to residents: 8-100 millirem.
        Improvements in power station design since 1979: lots [wikipedia.org].
        Chance of same incident happening again: ~zero.
  • Wha-huh? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by faloi (738831) on Thursday June 19, 2008 @08:53AM (#23854019)
    Nuclear seems to be working pretty well for various foreign countries. It takes a while to get a reactor on-line, and it's not a perfect solution... But it's better in many ways than the fossil fuel options.

    Wind and solar are great, and I support them also. But, $4 gas or not, all energy options should be on the table. And they should've been for about the last 30 years.
  • $5 a gallon? (Score:5, Interesting)

    by nurb432 (527695) on Thursday June 19, 2008 @08:55AM (#23854055) Homepage Journal
    Didn't you hear, opec has decided they pushed the bubble far enough and is going to scale back the 'waters testing'?

    We go thru this all the time with them, they push prices up to where they get worried we might actually go find an alternative, then bring it down just enough ( but higher then before ) to quiet us down and lose interest in alternatives.

    Its a cycle that most people are too stupid to see, and thus we are stuck in it.
  • by Muad'Dave (255648) on Thursday June 19, 2008 @08:57AM (#23854089) Homepage
    I'm all for this, if it includes research into IFR technology [nationalcenter.org]. If you haven't read this article, please do. I know it's biased toward IFR technology, but even if 10% of what the scientist says is true, we should be researching the hell out of it! Here's Wikipedia's take on the IFR [wikipedia.org].


    The current reactor design is antiquated and hobbled by President Carter's decree that we will not reprocess nuclear fuel [pbs.org]. So instead of extracting 90+% of the energy in the fuel and having 100 year nuclear waste, we extract 2% and have 10,000 year waste with the once-thru fuel cycle [wikipedia.org]. Real smart, Jimmy. And he was a 'Nucular Engineer'!

    • Clarifying (Score:5, Informative)

      by misterjava66 (1265146) on Thursday June 19, 2008 @09:27AM (#23854723)
      I'm a Nuclear Engineer.

      Let me help clarify a few things.

      1. In the 70's, our technology was not sufficient for reprocessing. It is arguably that we might have the ability to develop the tech now.

      2. The HLW (high level waste) from reprocessing is hotter longer after final use than once through methods.

      3. 10,000y is a design specification for HLW storage facilities. HLW is less radioactive than the materials dug up to make it after only 700y.

      4. Furthermore, since HLW is loaded with rare earths and lanthanides, and our knowledge of their special and sometimes unique chemistry grows every day, and HLW is actually the only reasonable source for some of these elements, its possible that HLW would enter its own reprocessing cycle after just 200y.

      Regards,

      Jerry
  • Global Warming (Score:5, Insightful)

    by The Aethereal (1160051) on Thursday June 19, 2008 @08:58AM (#23854135)
    You can not think global warming is both human caused and a genuine threat and not be for nuclear power. Yes nuclear power has its own problems, but far better than the purported consequences of global warming. Keep your eyes open for "environmentalists" that are against nuclear power. Those people have other interests in mind. "Environmentalism" is just their tool.
  • by A beautiful mind (821714) on Thursday June 19, 2008 @09:03AM (#23854215)
    Seriously, one of the more classic political tricks is to promise something way ahead in time, something that would have to be achieved by someone other than you.

    It is just more obvious because of McCain's age. Don't get me wrong, nuclear is currently the safest, greenest option that is economically viable, but promising things 20+ years into the future is pretty bad.
  • No Republican Nukes (Score:4, Informative)

    by jollyreaper (513215) on Thursday June 19, 2008 @09:07AM (#23854283)
    I have nothing against nuclear power, I just do not trust deregulation-happy business criminals to run them. With proper designs, regular inspections, and a safety-first mentality, nuclear power is clean and safe. With Enron-style profit-raping and criminal evasion of government regulation, we'd be fucked and glowing in the dark. I wouldn't put it past them to try and build crappy Chernobyl-style reactors just to give the finger to the Greenies, the same way they have the hard-on for drilling in the Arctic Wildlife Refuge.
  • by Muad'Dave (255648) on Thursday June 19, 2008 @09:14AM (#23854439) Homepage
    ...for our current backwater nuclear power status. From Wikipedia: [wikipedia.org]


    With the election of President Bill Clinton in 1992, and the appointment of Hazel O'Leary as the Secretary of Energy, there was pressure from the top to cancel the IFR. Sen. John Kerry (D, MA) and O'Leary led the opposition to the reactor, arguing that it would be a threat to non-proliferation efforts, and that it was a continuation of the Clinch River Breeder Reactor Project that had been canceled by Congress. Despite support for the reactor by then-Rep. Richard Durbin (D, IL) and U.S. Senators Carol Mosley Braun (D, IL) and Paul Simon (D, IL), funding for the reactor was slashed, and it was ultimately canceled in 1994. [Just 3 years before completion.]

    Emphasis mine. See all those bold 'D's for Democrat? Uh huh.

  • No Silver Bullet (Score:5, Insightful)

    by s31523 (926314) on Thursday June 19, 2008 @09:28AM (#23854737)
    I don't understand why people can not get it through their heads that no one single item is the answer.

    Look, we (US) have enjoyed our luxury of cheap single source energy. Now it is time to get with the program. We need ALL options for energy started now. Think of it as a diversified portfolio. So, I say the following:
    YES! Drill for more oil and make some more darn refineries
    YES! Build some nuclear power plants.
    YES! Explore better ways to use coal in existing power plants.
    YES! Build huge solar arrays and start larger solar power plants
    YES! Build wave generated power plants
    YES! Build wind generated power plants
    YES! Build electric-based "commuter" vehicles
    YES! Explore better ways to make bio-fuel

    The government needs to subsidize some of the projects and needs to throw some money at these problems. If we deploy all of these strategies we may not get cheaper energy but we will get stable energy and maybe, just maybe avert major crisis as population and demand increases exponentially over the next 10 years.
  • by argStyopa (232550) on Thursday June 19, 2008 @09:32AM (#23854827) Journal
    Republicans: build 45 new reactors.
    Democrats: nationalize the oil industry, price controls on gas.

    I'm not going to post which I think is which, but one seems rational and reasonable, the other is pandering to the masses with a policy that is not only short sighted, but dangerous.
  • by AeroSC (640154) on Thursday June 19, 2008 @09:36AM (#23854913)
    I'm all for building more nuclear plants and think they, along with fuel reprocessing, are a key element in reducing our dependence on fossil fuels. McCain's plan, however, ignores the realities of what it would take to physically build 45 plants in the US by 2030.

    There was an article covered a while back (http://hardware.slashdot.org/article.pl?sid=08/03/14/1238233 [slashdot.org]) talking about the 600-ton steel forgings required for a reactor containment vessel and the fact that on one company in Japan can, currently, make them. Given that their production rate is only 5 per year and their first open slot is in ~2015, the US would need 80% of their output from 2015 to 2027 to hope to meet that goal.

    Unless the rest of the world stops building nuclear plants or someone else starts making containment vessels, all this is just talk.

"And do you think (fop that I am) that I could be the Scarlet Pumpernickel?" -- Looney Tunes, The Scarlet Pumpernickel (1950, Chuck Jones)

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