Nuclear Energy reality check, Part V

In short what I’m saying is that the nuclear lobby needs to wake up and smell the coffee. They need to realise that they’re industry is but a small cog in a very large machine. A small piece of a very large puzzle that may unlock our future energy resources. Bashing wind farms just makes them lots of enemies and encourages the sort of NIMBYism that will make new nuclear stations (and lots of other bits of kit we’re going to need in the future) all that harder to build. Saying “oh we don’t actually want subsidies” isn’t fooling anyone anymore, other than a few gullible politicians, who will turn on the industry at the first sign of public opinion waning.

Unfortunately, my fear is the nuclear lobby are unable to change course. The biggest enemy of the nuclear industry is, as I see it, not Greenpeace, but themselves. There are simply far too many vested interests within the sector, often backed by large states sponsored companies (notably in France and Japan) to allow the sort of changes I suggest above. Obviously, having spent many tens of billions of taxpayers money and the best part of twenty years developing new LWR designs such as the EPR or the ABWR, neither the French nor Japanese governments are likely to abandon these programs, nor they’re MOX programs, unless somehow forced to do so by circumstance or a massive public outcry.

There are also quite a number of nutty cheerleaders of the industry, many of whom have scant to limited knowledge of the practical implications of nuclear energy and base they’re “facts” purely on industry derived propaganda. Unfortunately, such individuals are also the more public face of the nuclear lobby, as they are often the ones who get interviewed by the media and they make up the bulk of the pro-nuclear bloggers online. This despite that fact they’re only qualification is they were Maggie Thatcher’s Press Secretary or they once drove past a nuclear power station, or some dotty professor they used to have for physics 25 years ago who said it was a good idea (though he also said that they should bring back hanging and a women’s place is in the kitchen…) Obviously, such individuals don’t know enough about nuclear energy to form an opinion, they’re basically sheep, so it’s highly unlikely they’ll change their tune any time soon.

Consequently, I expect that the attitude of the industry post the Fukushima incident, will be to try and brush it off as being much ado about nothing, much as they tried to do about Three Mile Island back in 1979. Indeed they’re already at it. They’re trying to pass these Fukushima accidents off as a 4 on the Nuclear Accident scale after two major explosions and a series of radiation releases, which would make this 5 or even a 6. Of course such careless talk will do them no favours in the long run. You will note, that while expressing scepticism of nuclear power in this post, I’ve not actually said we should take it off the table. Of course, there are plenty of people in Greenpeace and Friends of the Earth or similar organisations who will say that we should phase out nuclear power at once. And the longer the nuclear industry ignores the issues I’ve raised above, or engages in a cycle of spin and disinformation, the stronger the case of the anti-nuclear lobby becomes, and the louder their voices get.

And we the public need to think very carefully before taking the nuclear lobby seriously. If they continue, post- Fukushima, to show signs of delusion, carrying on as if nothing had happened, still peddling myths about MOX fuel or too-cheap-to-meter EPR’s or Fast Reactors that will magically whisk all the nuclear waste away to laalaa land, then I would probably have to side with the Greenpeace and FoE gang on this one. In such a situation, a future with no nuclear reactors is better than the inevitable train wreck that will follow if the Nuclear Lobby has its way.

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