Good read on nuclear power

The Terror of Nuclear Power

I particularly like this bit...

Well, maybe to them it's more about the future of the planet than about saving lives today. Maybe they just don't want to see high-level nuclear waste created that's going to poison the planet for tens of thousands of years. I can see that. But here's the problem with that logic: The plants we're designing now produce less waste than ever. Some on the drawing board produce none at all. We've already created most of the waste that we ever will. It already exists. It's out there. Lobbying against future cleaner plants won't make the existing waste go away. It's out there now in temporary facilities in neighborhoods all across the country, way more vulnerable than it would be in proper permanent storage in Yucca Mountain.
Some on the drawing board produce none at all.

I'm skeptical of that. I'm not one of those hippies who thinks all a nuclear power plant needs is a little nudge to turn into a nuclear bomb, but I do think we need to proceed with caution. Nuclear waste is some seriously nasty stuff, and it stays that way a long time. While I've heard they're safe I've also seen some studies that show higher concentrations of mutations in insects living near plants.

I've made this argument before and people have attacked me for demanding perfection when "good enough" will do. All I'm saying is that if we go the nuclear route we're going to have to live with the consequences and we'd best be sure we're willing to do that.

As a former nuclear qualified machinery operator (MO) I can say that there are basically two types of reactors in use in America and on the drawing boards. The kinds like in the “China Syndrome” which become more super critical as the heat increases. These are known as “Fast reactors”. In laymen’s terms they become run away reactors as they get hotter and can meltdown so to speak.

Also there are those reactors that become less super critical as the heat increases, known as “Thermal reactors”. In laymen’s terms they shut down if they get too hot.

I do not agree on the “Some on the drawing board produce none at all.” Regarding nuclear or radioactive waste.

But as far as safety is concerned and, if you believe in global warming, Nuclear power is by far the best way to go. It lasts longer before needing to “Add Fuel” and it is very stable and continuous for years at a time.

However, it being made and operated by humans, it can fail and cause great damage although it is usually human error caused as the linked story showed. Also a bit about Three Mile Island’s human error.

Three Mile Island was a totally preventable accident caused by a shift supervisor, a former electrician’s mate first class, that thought he could handle a bad situation by himself. Things went south at the beginning of his shift and he hid things until the next shift arrived. The on coming shift took the correct steps for the wrong situation, because the bad shift supervisor lied about what was going on and what he had done to correct things. They added cold water to a super heated heat exchanger and the pipes split and cracked, leaking steam from the reactor into the atmosphere. It really was that simple.

To add the most insult to injury the reactor was the exact same kind as the Navy uses and the president was Jimmy Carter, a navy nuclear qualified officer. He said things that were so stupid that every nuke I knew in the navy then wanted to crawl under a rock in total shame.

Bottom line up front (BLUF) nuclear power is the best way to go right now for large scale power production, but yes it can fail and cause really bad accidents.