Nuclear Power

Continuing the discussion from Why Sanders is still campaigning, in eight sentences:

I don’t know the exact percentages, but it’s quite low. There are reprocessing plants in England, France, Russia, India, and Japan. The US had one, since closed, and is currently building another.

The reasons it’s not in as wide use as it could be is mostly political and economic (by the obvious fact that it’s cheaper to use new fuel and store the spent fuel in the ground than it is to reprocess it) rather than technological.

Once you factor in all the externalities (e.g. if there was a political decision that spent fuel had to be reprocessed rather than stored), it would still be cheaper than continuing to use coal (the main externality of coal use is never factored in, i.e. the loss of everyone’s waterfront property).


This may make what the OP here is describing a little more clear:

The cheapness of the up-front burning of coal is irrelevant and when you factor in all the downrange costs, there are substantial hidden costs and concerns in treating the atmosphere as though it were an open sewer, such as environmental health issues ranging from coal’s substantial contribution to global greenhouse gas concentrations in the atmosphere to coal’s more localized atmospheric contaminates such as mercury and radionucleotides, NOx and so-called PM2.5 solids (for one example, see: ).

There is discussion of other nuclear fuel cycles, Thorium seems to come up often, and then there are various sorts of nuclear fusion reactors that may one day soon provide another alternative.


This is really helpful…thanks!


Just watched a doco on this issue by physicist Dr Derek Muller, an Australian-born Canadian. It was called Uranium: twisting the dragon’s tail. Anyway, if I’ve understood correctly, currently something like 95% of that highly-radioactive waste has to be stored. At least one scientist, Dr Leslie Dewan, is working on a kind of reactor that uses much of that waste in processing. Or maybe reduces that waste by like 90%. But those types of reactors are probably at least 10 years away, according to the doco.

(Sorry I’m fuzzy on some of the details. I only watched it five hours ago but it’s now 0345 here and I’m tired. Plus edited to correct the doco’s and other scientist’s names.)

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