Unlike Phil Klasky, who would rather watch the oceans slick up with petroleum so that he can use tragedy, for his radical social change, I believe that nuclear power is the safest and cleanest way to produce power.
Nuclear power is the world’s largest source of emission-free energy. Nuclear power plants produce no controlled air pollutants, such as sulfur and particulates, or greenhouse gases. The use of nuclear power in place of other energy sources helps to keep the air clean, preserve the Earth’s climate, avoid ground-level ozone formation and prevent acid rain.
Nuclear power has important implications for our national security. Inexpensive nuclear power, in combination with fuel cell technology, could significantly reduce our dependency on foreign oil.
Nuclear power plants have experienced an admirable safety record. About 20% of electricity generated in the U.S. comes from nuclear power, and in the last forty years of this production, not one single fatality has occurred as a result of the operation of a civilian nuclear power plant in the United States. In comparison, many people die in coal mining accidents every year and approximately ten thousand Americans die every year from pollution related to coal burning.
The nuclear power industry generates approximately 2,000 tons of solid waste annually in the United States. In comparison, coal fueled power plants produce 100,000,000 tons of ash and sludge annually, and this ash is laced with poisons such as mercury and nitric oxide.
Even this 2,000 tons of nuclear waste is not a technical problem. Reprocessing of nuclear fuel, and the implementation of Integral Fast Reactor technology, will enable us to turn the vast majority of what is currently considered waste into energy.
Unfortunately, the voting public has been victimized by forty years of misinformation regarding the safety of nuclear power. The graphs on nuclear energy showing it to be safe, economical, and in our national interest are countered by anti-nuclear activists using fear tactics to frighten the electorate into inaction.
Until we can successfully educate the American electorate on the real pros and cons of nuclear power, we will not be able to engage in a healthy national discussion on the topic.
In France, as of 2002, Électricité de France (EDF) — the country’s main electricity generation and
distribution company — manages the country’s 58 nuclear power plants. As of 2008, these plants produce 90% of both EDF’s and France’s electrical power production (of which much is exported), making EDF the world leader in production of nuclear power by percentage. In 2004, 425.8 TWh out of the country’s total production of 540.6 TWh was from nuclear power (78.8%).
France is the world’s largest net exporter of electric power, exporting 18% of its total production (about 100 TWh) to Italy, the Netherlands, Belgium, Britain, and Germany, and its electricity cost is among the lowest in Europe.
In 2006, the French Government asked Areva and EDF to build a next generation nuclear reactor, the EPR (European Pressurized Reactor), at the Flamanville Nuclear Power Plant. This was followed in 2008 by an Presidential announcement of another new EPR, spurred by high oil and gas prices. A site for that unit should be selected in 2009, and construction should start in 2011.
European Pressurized Reactor
The next generation design for French reactors will be the European Pressurized Reactor (EPR), which will have a broader scope than just France with a pilot plant in Finland undergoing construction and with marketing activities extending to the United States and China. The site for first French EPR is undergoing groundwork at the Flamanville Nuclear Power Plant, which should be operational in 2012.
This reactor is one of the newest reactor designs in the world. It was developed by Areva contributing its N4 reactor technology and the German company Siemens contributing its Konvoi reactor technology. Keeping with the French rationale of a highly standardized plant and proven technology, it uses more traditional active safety systems and is more similar to current plant designs than international competitors such as the AP1000 or the ESBWR.
In 2005 EdF announced plans to replace the current nuclear plants with new 1600 MWe units as they reach the end of their licensed life, starting around 2020. This decisions confirms that France will continue indefinitely to use nuclear power as its primary electricity source. In order to replace the current 58 reactors, one new large unit will have to be built about every year for about 40 years.
Nuclear Power is safe and no one in the United States or the Western Hemisphere has ever died from an Nuclear accident. Not even 3 Mile Island.
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