Saturday, September 7, 2013

Fukushima farce reveals nuclear industry's fatal flaw

Keeping the lid on costs when the task is to keep the lid on a slow motion atomic explosion is an impossible challenge

Once upon a time, when the nuclear industry was shiny and new, it simply burned uranium. Now, old and tarnished, it burns money. From the promise of nuclear electricity being too cheap to meter, we now have costs that are too great to count.
At the site of the Fukushima meltdown in Japan, the government is being forced to spend over £200m on a fanciful-sounding underground ice wall in the latest desperate attempt to halt the radiation-contaminated water that is leaking into the sea.
When mere stopgaps cost this much, it is clear any real solution will cost the earth. Japanese taxpayers have already had to bail out the operator Tepco to the tune of £6.5bn. The final clean up will cost tens of billions and take 40 years.
Yet supporters maintain that nuclear power offers affordable low-carbon electricity and is a vital tool in the fight to curb climate change. The UK government, already spending most of its energy budget on nuclear clean up, has crashed through deadline after deadline in a fruitless search to find anybody willing to build new nuclear power stations at reasonable cost.
The only serious players left in the game are those backed by the French, Chinese and Russian states, whose interest in power is as much political as electrical. Commercial companies have fled the scene.
The fundamental reason why the price of nuclear power climbs each day as surely as the rising sun is a straightforward one. Keeping a lid on costs is impossible if the task in hand is keeping the lid on an exploding atomic bomb...

more > Fukushima farce reveals nuclear industry's fatal flaw | Damian Carrington | Environment |

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