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Myths and Facts on Nuclear Energy

In today's San Jose Mercury-News, you'll find an op-ed under my byline entitled, "Nuclear energy debate fraught with myths." As the tag line on the piece reports, it was based on a detailed post that originally ran here at NEI Nuclear Notes on May 2, 2006 that took issue with a previous op-ed by Silicon Valley businessman Steve Kirsch.

Because of space limitations, we couldn't rebut every one of Kirsch's original charges in detail, so be sure to check our original post when the inevitable charge arises that we left some questions unanswered.

One last point: I think the fact that this piece ran at all is a credit to the Mercury-News, a newspaper that has always been a leader in giving a fair hearing to sources of information, like blogs, that only exist online. And one of the reasons that this blog has any credibility is because of our readers -- and that includes our supporters as well as our detractors.

Thanks for the support. If things continue to develop as we've planned, today's op-ed won't be the last from blog contributors.

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Comments

F.A. BRANDT said…
The San Jose Mercury News is not fair in its coverage of the Nuclear Power Option. They tend to favor articles promoting wind and solar power.
I sent the following response to the Kirsch opus.
4/24/06 Fortunately the diatribe against nuclear power by Steve Kirsch on 4/24/06 is on the Merc Editorial OPINION page. Unfortunately his opinions being in print may be accepted as fact.

Fact: currently, nuclear power plants offer the only way to produce economic, reliable electric power without producing greenhouse gas.
Fact: Kirsch’s wish that scientific brainpower will devise a better way to produce economic, reliable electric power in the foreseeable future is a fantasy.
Fact: All alternate energy sources now available never will be able to produce economical, reliable electric power.

The wind does not blow steadily. Data are available to show that the California wind farms produce usable energy 20 % of the day. Solar electricity, available at most 12 hours a day, is off the charts cost wise to produce commercial energy. Both solar and wind plants have to be backed up by reliable power plants. What does Kirsch propose for these?

His arguments after the phrase, “This belief are dead wrong” are mostly themselves “dead wrong” Nuclear power plants are expensive to build but they amortize themselves by producing power at low cost 24/7. Diablo Canyon is a cash cow as are all the other nuclear plants in the world. Storing the small amounts of waste products is a political not engineering problem. In any case we should be reprocessing the waste to get the fuel and valuable isotopes. The insurance argument is not reliable as a measure that nuclear plants are a risk. His argument that coal plants produce greenhouse gasses is correct but using this as an argument that therefore nuclear plants produce greenhouse gasses is specious. Citing previous nuclear plant accidents as proof that future plants will have accidents is speculative at best. His “most powerful argument” is not effective. All countries interested in reducing greenhouse gas production have no alternative other than going to nuclear power if they want economical 24/7 electricity. If they choose to make fully enriched uranium or extract plutonium for bomb use this must be controlled by other means than not using nuclear power for peaceful purposes.

F.A. BRANDT
1231 Janis Way
San Jose, CA

As sent to Merc letters and reader rep
Fortunately the diatribe against nuclear power by Steve Kirsch on 4/24/06 is on
the Merc Editorial OPINION page. Unfortunately his opinions being in print may
be accepted as fact.

Fact: currently, nuclear power plants offer the only way to produce economic,
reliable electric power without producing greenhouse gas.
Fact: Kirsch’s wish that scientific brainpower will devise a better way to
produce economic, reliable electric power in the foreseeable future is a
fantasy.
Fact: All alternate energy sources now available never will be able to produce
economical, reliable electric power.

The wind does not blow steadily. Data are available to show that the California
wind farms produce usable energy 20 percent of the day. Solar electricity is
available at most 12 hours a day. Both are beset with high capital costs because
their energy is so diffuse. Amortization costs are prohibitive because of the
limited time of production. Both solar and wind plants have to be backed up by
reliable power plants. What does Kirsch propose for these?

His arguments after the phrase, “This belief are dead wrong” are mostly
themselves “dead wrong” Nuclear power plants are somewhat more expensive to
build but they amortize their capital cost quickly by producing power at low
cost 24/7. Diablo Canyon is a cash cow as are all the other nuclear plants in
the world. Storing the small amounts of waste products is a political not
engineering problem. In any case we should be reprocessing the waste to get the
fuel and valuable isotopes. The insurance argument is not reliable as a measure
that nuclear plants are a risk. His argument that coal plants produce greenhouse
gasses is correct but using this as an argument that therefore nuclear plants
produce greenhouse gasses is specious. Citing previous nuclear plant accidents
as proof that future plants will have accidents is speculative at best. His
“most powerful argument” is not effective. All countries interested in reducing
greenhouse gas production have no alternative other than going
to nuclear power if they want economical 24/7 electricity. If they choose to
make fully enriched uranium or extract plutonium for bomb use this must be
controlled by other means than not using nuclear power for peaceful purposes.

F.A. BRANDT
1231 Janis Way
San Jose, CA
Fritz said…
I read your essay in the dead-tree Mercury News this morning, found your blog, and mentioned you in my own blog. Keep up the good work.

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