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Old September 3, 2007, 09:47 AM
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shaad shaad is offline
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Join Date: February 5, 2004
Location: Bethesda, MD, USA
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With all due respect to Dr. Anwar Hossain, I think his presentation elides over and omits many negative details. For instance, in the matter of safety, he mentions only the Chernobyl incident, totally failing to talk about the partial core meltdown of the Unit 2 reactor in the Three Mile Isand incident in the United States. Nor does he talk about the recent radioactive waste leak at the more modern Kashiwazaki-Kariwa reactor in Japan caused by the earthquake in July 2007, one which the Japanese government is still investigating and might lead to the shutdown of seven reactors. Then there are the examples of almost-disasters e.g. the discovery in 2002 that boric acid had eaten almost all the way through the 6½-inch thick reactor pressure vessel head of Unit 1 of the Davis-Besse Nuclear Power Station or the leakage of radioactive steam from the Robert E. Ginna Nuclear Power Plant after the rupture of a steam generator tube.

Besides the issues with safety and construction (reactors designed to be power plants are a somewhat different beast than small experimental reactors), one has to deal with the geopolitical issues associated with both the import of radioactive fuel and the subsequent disposal of radioactive waste. It is all very well to say that there are several sources of uranium and thorium in the world, but, as oil supplies dwindle, these will become more and more monopolized by the major powers. Given that certain vested interests are eager to portray Bangladesh as the next haven of fundamentalist terrorism, and with the current example of the pressures being put on Iran (which is well within its rights as a signatory of the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty to enrich uranium), can we be entirely certain that we will always have both a supply of nuclear fuel and a means for disposing of nuclear waste without having to succumb to this form of nuclear blackmail? Do we want to invest all that money into buidling nuclear power plants (and make no mistake, most of that money will come form the public exchequer) only to find that we are generating nowhere near the amount of power we had planned?

This is not to suggest that we should not consider nuclear power plants, but that we should take a hard-nosed, cynical, and practical look at what they would entail, the limitations, consequences, and pitfalls associated with them, not merely look at them with rose-coloured lenses.
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