UK nuclear power plant will be the most expensive object on Earth

I mean, I don’t want them to cheap out on a nuclear power plant, so maybe that’s an ok price…?

Heck w/ the real thing: where can I get that “Wilesco”-labelled tabletop engine kit?

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This YT video has a great description: “The Wilesco Nuclear Plant R200 was only produced for a short time in the 1960s, as it had technical issues in operation.” Just like the real thing : )

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Every nuclear plant that I know of was built using the least expensive design that could be legally approved at the time. For example, GE BWRs were advertised as having the thinnest, least costly containment that could possibly be expected to work, and were designed to be decommissioned after a set amount of time (which, of course, they won’t be).

Is this still the case? Or is that too much of an economic as opposed to technical question?

That question is a little too economic for me to answer concisely. It makes economic sense to use whatever technology is the least expensive. I can address the aging of reactor pressure vessels though. The technology behind reactor pressure vessels (what I believe you meant by ‘containment’) improves over time as our existing nuclear power infrastructure ages. So 30 years ago, we didn’t know how metal would respond to being irradiated over long periods of time. We’ve had to build up that information over years of actually using the stuff. Each reactor is started with a few extra slabs of metal inside that match the containment material. When the reactor is refueled, a chunk of extra metal gets extracted and examined. From our existing nuclear fleet, we’ve been gathering data on how materials last and we have much more accurate models from it. With our improved models, we can predict whether or not a reactor pressure vessel will fail much more accurately, and in many instances, we’ve learned that the pressure vessels were initially over-designed. That’s why many plants can renew their operating license from the Nuclear Regulatory Commission for another 20 years (beyond the initial 40 year plant life).

When it comes to economics of nuclear power and decommissioning - i think this is how it works. The project gets funded upfront and the first 10-20 years of the plant are dedicated to paying back loans. After that, the plant is essentially making electricity for pure profit (minus operation costs, refueling, maybe a new steam turbine, etc). But the profits immediately get channeled into another fund to generate some interest. It’s this set aside money, which grows as the plant continues producing power, that is used for decommissioning cost. Any nuclear power plant that lives out its projected lifetime should absolutely be able to cover its own decommissioning costs. This is, of course, barring any corruption or mismanagement.

Hopefully that helped - or maybe I’m just rambling. :sweat_smile:


Thank you, I didn’t know that!

I’m afraid the decomissioning costs don’t quite work the way you described, but that is mostly due to corruption and regulatory capture. It was supposed to work that way, yes, but in practice operators found that if they actually set aside decommissioning costs they could not compete economically with fossil fuels, which have more subsidies and externalized costs.


They should just engineer the cost of the plant’s eventual, assured requirement for a confinement shroud into the planning costs.

They have. See that massive concrete containment building? Chernobyl was built without one.


Not from TMI.

I do wish we could have more faith in all of our (U.S.) regulatory structures, but I personally have faith in the NRC and the NTSB and FAA. I don’t think fear of influence of corporations should prevent progress, I think we should diminish the dark power of corporations.

If you think that managing nuclear material in hospitals and labs is a dawdle though:

Mexico City:

And for good measure, Google Therac-25.

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Yeah, I mean a ‘extra’ shroud for the containment structure. Which will eventually fail in some catastrophic fashion, and sooner rather than later once all the money has been extracted from the project by unscrupulous contractors, companies and politician’s friends.

The containment structure being built at Chernobyl is just what I imagine such a beast would look like. I probably could have been a little clearer.

In any pressurized water reactor, there’s at least four levels of containment. First off, the fuel itself is converted into a ceramic (UO2). Then there’s the fuel cladding - it’s designed to prevent even a little bit of fuel from mixing with the coolant/moderator. Then there’s the big, metal reactor pressure vessel. And finally, there’s the big concrete dome.

[quote=“earnestinebrown, post:28, topic:77449”]
People and the environment were irradiated in all cases.[/quote]

I think you missed the “and the environment” part of Ms. Brown’s comment? There were multiple releases of radioactive steam and water from TMI and they went somewhere. Unsurprisingly, the cancer rates in the surrounding area eventually went up measurably.

Well said! I think it’s easy to understand people’s fears, given the behaviour of the zaibatsus, and those fears aren’t going to go away when we all know that TEPCO and Kerr-McGee aren’t an anomaly, they represent mutlinational corporate “business as usual”.

I think I mentioned previously that in overtly socialist nations, nuclear power seems to be fundamentally safer and more economically viable. Laissez-faire capitalism and strontium-90 seem like bad partners.

What type of reactor is this?

it’s a rather new design, so far without a plant up and running

(I’m not a nuclear engineering grad : ))


Space is fine. Rocket failure would be bad.


As the French and Swedish civilian nuclear power programs have been proving for decades, Certain societies already use nuclear power responsibly.

Here’s an easy rule of thumb for you. If a power plant design started out as a military design, as the all three you list did, then oppose it. If the design has been intended for civilian use from its inception, then consider it.

About your examples. First, Three Mile Island didn’t directly kill anybody, nor require a quarantine area. In the end, it was a financial loss, not human one (thankfully).

Also, the Design used at Three Mile Island and Fukusima has been known to be critically flawed since the early 70s – and indeed, both reactors had failures of that nature. Of course, in the US it’s been impossible to replace nuclear power plants since the 70s, so we’re stuck with these old, unsafe reactors.

As for Chernnobyl, yeah, well, I think we can agree: Societies whose governments can’t be held accountable aren’t ready for nuclear power.

I believe the power plant in question is a civilian design, always intended to be operated safely in a civilian context.


speaking of statements with little factual basis.

Solar, wind, biomass - all great. We definitely should be expanding these. But for the next decade or two, there is NO WAY these come even close to supplying enough energy to replace our current fossil fuel infrastructure… And even once built out, there would not be enough energy for our current first world lifestyle.

You don’t have to replace the fossil fuel infrastructure in order to convert the source of fuel from natgas to biogas. That’s the whole point; that’s why it’s the best option.

We agree on the important part!

You should check out the more recent cancer data from downwind and downstream of TMI, though.

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It’s a pressurized water reactor. Nothing revolutionary in the technology here. Pressurized water cools and moderates the core. This is how most other operating reactors work. The term ‘third generation’ means it has a lot of extra safety features. If an accident were to occur (anywhere within the power plant), the system should adjust accordingly on its own.

The biggest safety feature is in the passive cooling of the core. Should the plant loose all external power, the core will SCRAM (or reduce to minimum power) and the decay heat can be extracted passively. Gravity and convection take care of this without any external input. This keeps the core from getting too hot and melting.


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