81 thoughts on “How Close?

  1. Same Old Guy

    Ah good old joined up European policy. UK building more nuclear plantss Germany looks to eradicate them. TBH I’d be more worried about the damge their so called “banking union” will do if this is centralized E.U. thinking.

  2. ahjayzis

    Er, how many hundreds of millions of people in Europe live closer to one of these ‘deathtraps’?

    Woe is Ireland!

        1. smoothlikemurphys

          And meaning significantly more people are within the zone surrounding it. They don’t seem to mind too much – why should we?

      1. Don Pidgeoni

        Ha, in your face! In the event of the inevitable nuclear meltdown, I die first!! Oh wait….

  3. donal

    Nuclear power: the most effective manner of reducing carbon emissions in circumstances where nobody wants to drive less/fly less/eat raw food/quit internet porn. We should build a plant here and get over ourselves and our paranoid fears, proper regulation can make nuclear safe (fukushima style earthquake/tsunami aside)

    1. ReproBertie

      Draw me a symbol that means “Danger” and will mean “Danger” for the thousands of years the waste will be dangerous, then we can talk about nuclear being safe.

      1. ahjayzis

        Yes and airplanes make big bangs when they crash and sure you’re taking your life in your hands bejaney.

        1. ReproBertie

          In 1990 the US Federal Government invited a group of geologists, linguists, astrophysicists, architects, artists, and writers to the New Mexico desert, to visit the Waste Isolation Pilot Plant. This WIPP site is going to be radioactive for hundreds of thousands of years and the aforementioned panel was convened to address how to communicate this information to people 10,000 years in the future. This panel was only responsible for keeping this place sufficiently marked for humans for the next 10,000 years—thinking beyond that timeframe was thought to be impossible.

          There was a leak at the site in February 2014 and it is believed it will be 3 years before the site is safe to work on again but sure lets joke about plane crashes instead of dealing with the point in hand.

        2. DoM

          To be fair, ReproBertie has produced the only argument I’ve ever found particularly credible regarding opposition to nuclear power. Pretending radioactive waste with a long half life isn’t very dangerous is also (based on my admittedly limited understanding of nuclear physics) total baloney. The stuff that comes out of nuclear power plants is extremely dangerous, and remains that way for thousands of years, and pretending that that isn’t a legitimate concern is as anti-science a stance as… well, I haven’t got a carefully calibrated analogy here, but it’s very anti-science.

          1. Nigel

            The stuff that goes into it isn’t great either, and paying twice the current going rate per unit of energy for the next 35 years seems to defeat the purpose a bit AND suggest that someone learned a trick from Irish Water.

      2. Chamos

        If your element has a half-life of thousands of years, it’s not particularly dangerous. It lasts a long time because it emits rarely. Bananas contain radioactive potassium-40 for example.

          1. mike

            The people of Fife have a secret plan? That was dashed by the no-vote.

            Or do you mean Mr Fyffes the banana man.

          1. deliverancecountry

            also: ” A typical 1000 MWe light water reactor will generate (directly and indirectly) 200-350 m3 low- and intermediate-level waste per year. It will also discharge about 20 m3 (27 tonnes) of used fuel per year, which corresponds to a 75 m3 disposal volume following encapsulation if it is treated as waste” (world-nuclear.org)
            According to Scientific American : “…the U.S. fleet of nuclear power plants will likely run for another 50 or even 70 years before it is retired — long past the 40-year life span planned decades ago”.
            That’s a bunch of waste to stash in a dry spot.

      3. hakhno

        If we get to the stage where we’re forgetting where we’ve put the nuclear waste storage, I think a little radiation will be less of a concern than the whips and lashes of our new insect overlords.

        1. ReproBertie

          The meaning of symbols changes over time. The skull and crossbones actually began not as a symbol of death, but a symbol of rebirth. The earliest uses of it are in religious paintings and sculptures from the middle ages. A few centures later, ship captains started to mark sailors deaths by drawing a skull and crossbones next to the names of sailors who had died at sea which lead to death being associated with the symbol. Fast forward a couple of centuries and you can now buy waterbottles decorated with a skull and crossbones which doesn’t exactly scream “Danger”.

    2. Mani

      Amazing. Given the elected minister and various TD’s would probably staff it with constituents who would make Homer Simpsons approach to new-cle-er power almost teutonic in it’s efficiency, I would not be overly enthusiastic.

    3. Mark Dennehy

      To be honest, I wouldn’t be terrified of a nuclear plant in Ireland.

      So long as it was built by the Germans (who have the best design I know of for nuclear power plants) and regulated by anyone other than our shower of gormless twats government.

      I mean, there’s being sensible and then there’s being reckless…

    4. Formerly known as @ireland.com


      You are having a laugh:” fukushima style earthquake/tsunami aside”.
      Right, we will just tell nature to leave our nuclear plant alone.

      Before Fukushima, I would get the pro-nuclear types saying how Chernobyl was using old Russian technology, how new plants are so safe. After Fukushima, it is all about the earthquakes.

      I would rather hear ‘there has been an accident at the local solar power plant’, than ‘there has been an accident at the local nuclear power plant’. Invest in solar/wave/wind – anything but nuclear.

  4. Kevin K

    Nuclear is safer than fossil, however more people die mining the uranium than from station incidents.

  5. Dudey

    I can’t see the point you are trying to make here Bodger, there’s been a nuclear power station at Hinckley Point since the Normans. They’re just sticking in a new one, because you can’t refurb the old ones.

    What happens to Ireland when we run out of turf? Maybe we could use coal. Or maybe we could just import nuclear power from the UK, whilst boasting about the green credentials, of our wonderful abortion free Island.

    1. Mayor Quimby

      judging by the anti-flouride posts it’s clear that reason and science are not held in high regards at Broadsheet.

      This so called alternative media – scaremongering tripe- is more Natural News than a genuine alternative to Irish MSM

      1. Mick Flavin

        I don’t think that’s entirely fair. I think it’s more an awareness that fluoride-related posts generate comments and clicks rather than an anti-fluoride editorial bias.
        At least I hope it is…

  6. Khanfred

    OK, aside from the whole danger of nuclear accidents and 100,000 year storage problem, what’s so wrong with nuclear power? Oh wait, it’s only economically viable with a strike price twice the current wholesale price guaranteed for 35 years?

  7. soapytitwank

    Reports say it’ll cost 30 billion and operate for 60 years. So it costs 500 million a year? Price of leccy must be on the way up!

    1. Chamos

      Don’t worry, judging by the current trend, it’ll be kept running way longer than it was designed for.

    1. 3stella

      Or Máire Geoghegan-Quinn (the current European Commissioner for Research, Innovation and Science) who didn’t see fit to bother attending this vote today, abstained, because a conference in Italy was more important.

  8. munkifisht

    Irish people really need to get their dumb heads out of the sand and look at the facts. Ignoring the cost issues, fossil fuels have been shown to kill far more people and be far more carcinogenic in general than those who have been affected by nuclear accidents (kinda wring to call them disasters). Each year about 13,500 people in the US alone die from fossil fuels each year, the total death-toll (including those who are alive today) caused by the Chernobyl meltdown is expected to reach 9000.

    Renewable energy is no better. There is no technology that can replace fossil fuels with out massive fields of solar panels, wind farms or wave energy converters which people would similarly (and rightly) object to, and the cost of these makes it absolutely pointless to consider in today’s economic climate.

    Nuclear power has been shown to be a safe, clean technology. Sure it comes with risks, but these risks are perfectly acceptable when compared with the health and cost benefits this technology brings.

    The worst estimates on Fukushima’s are 1,000 deaths, and studies on Three mile islands in the recent past have failed to find a statistically significant increase in mortality.

    If you compare it to say the Banqiao Dam disaster where 230,000 people were killed it would probably be fair to say that renewable sources of energy have in that one incident killed more people than nearly 60 years of Nuclear power.


      1. munkifisht

        A knowingly flawed reactor design (even at the time of constriction) which is so defunct it isn’t funny, and the fact that the worst estimates… WORST estimates are expected to reach 9000. That number still hasn’t been achieved. As I say, every year in the States alone it’s estimated 4,500 people more than that die from the use of fossil fuels.. A YEAR.

        If the UK went back to fossil fuels they’d be killing far more people a year from carcinogens than have ever been killed from nuclear power in that country (not sure if it’s zero but it’s certainly a very very low number). If things when back to the time of the great London fog where one year alone 6,000 killed people and 25,000 claimed to have gotten sick.

        1. ReproBertie

          According to that Wikipedia article “the Union of Concerned Scientists estimates that, among the hundreds of millions of people living in broader geographical areas, there will be 50,000 excess cancer cases resulting in 25,000 excess cancer deaths.”

          1. Mark Dennehy

            Would that be the same Union of Concerned Scientists who are in favour of nuclear power in general but have specific concerns relating to engineering details?

          2. ReproBertie

            Honeslty I’ve no idea. I just saw the link and the number and how the number was almost 3 times what munkifisht was saying was the worst estimate.

            My only real objection to nuclear power is the disposal of waste. Once that is resolved I’ll look into the other stuff – costs, safety, the ineptitude of the quango the Irish government would set up to run it.

          3. munkifisht

            Are you referring to this?

            “The risk projections suggest that by now Chernobyl may have caused about 1000 cases of thyroid cancer and 4000 cases of other cancers in Europe, representing about 0.01% of all incident cancers since the accident. Models predict that by 2065 about 16,000 cases of thyroid cancer and 25,000 cases of other cancers may be expected due to radiation from the accident, whereas several hundred million cancer cases are expected from other causes.”

            The UCS report was not peer reviewed and is no longer advertised on their site. The UN report however which was peer reviewed found at worst 9000 deaths.


          4. ReproBertie

            No, I was quoting the paragraph after that (on the wikipedia link) but I see that the UCS have not just stopped advertising the corresponding piece but removed it from their website entirely.

            Anyway, I’m going off on a tangent. As I said before, it’s the waste disposal that prevents me supporting nuclear power, not the safety element of the plants.

      1. munkifisht

        True, these people are probably sitting there, banana on their desk beside them totally unaware of the DEADLY RADIATION being pumped into their bodies from the decay of potassium-40 isotopes.

    1. Formerly known as @ireland.com

      “Renewable energy is no better. There is no technology that can replace fossil fuels with out massive fields of solar panels, wind farms or wave energy converters which people would similarly (and rightly) object to, and the cost of these makes it absolutely pointless to consider in today’s economic climate.”

      – Renewable energy is better – there is no radioactive waste.

      – People would object if solar panels, wind farms or wave energy converters are put in the wrong place. I have a 5kW solar system on my roof. Nobody is complaining. There are plenty of suitable places for each technology. Give people a choice of a wind farm or a nuclear plant, I know which one most people will choose.

      – The thing that is “absolutely pointless to consider in today’s economic climate” is that the UK Government are subsidising this nuclear plant. Without the British tax payer guaranteeing the price for 35 years, this plant would not be built.

  9. deliverancecountry

    We would get a good few wind turbines for 30 billion supplemented with burning gas from organic waste.
    Free fuel. No waste.

    1. Peadar

      And completely impractical for powering the country. What is going to take up the slack when the wind doesn’t blow? Biogas simply isn’t a large enough resource to cut it I’m afraid.

      1. ReproBertie

        How much energy can we generate from incinerating waste? Poolbeg is/was to generate enough “power for 80,000 homes and heating for another 50,000” apaprently.

        1. Peadar

          Just had a quick dig. Ireland is currently allowed to landfill 900,000 tonnes of waste per year. Poolbeg was going to have a capacity of 600,000 tonnes.

          Don’t get me wrong, we should be doing all we can to reduce emissions, maybe 20% wind energy can be used in a healthy grid with gas, oil, coal and hydro taking up the slack. If you have other forms of renewables, such as waste from energy, and even some more predictable, if not controllable, forms, such as tidal, you’re well on your way to decarbonising your energy supply. It’s just those who think that we can replace 100% of our current generation capacity with wind who aren’t completely up to speed with the hard facts.

          1. deliverancecountry

            Sorry – the biogas is for when the wind isn’t blowing.
            I know it’s dangerous communist talk but there is no reason hundreds of thousands houses can’t be fitted with solar water heaters greatly reducing our dependence on fossil fuels. Lastly private photovoltaic cells are already producing more than enough electricity for some consumers in Europe. All of this can be accommodated within the budget for building a reactor without the years of expense and waste. What it does mean is a small number of people won’t be able to make geansaí loads of money from the nuclear quango.

  10. Clampers Outside!

    Answer me this…

    If every country switches all the fossil fuel energy plants to nuclear… where does the waste go from all the world’s reactors?
    If you don’t know the answer to this, you shouldn’t be pushing for it or we’ll end up with pockets of the world that end up as permanent no go areas.

    Or, more importantly, where will Ireland put its nuclear waste?
    And at what cost (a) financially and (b) environmentally

    “Of particular concern are two long-lived fission products, technetium-99 (half-life 220,000 years) and iodine-129 (half-life 15.7 million years),[1] which dominate spent nuclear fuel radioactivity after a few thousand years. The most troublesome transuranic elements in spent fuel are neptunium-237 (half-life two million years) and plutonium-239 (half-life 24,000 years)” (from wikipedia… hadn’t time to look for another source)

    Seriously, so are we to spend the next few hundred years producing waste that will be harmful for millions of years?

    Are ye mental?

    1. Peadar

      The waste will be perfectly fine in geologically stable rock formations, which are basically unchanging over timescales of tens of thousands of years. The problem is a political one, not a scientific one.

      If you’re particularly interested, I put up a post about it here: http://forum.kerbalspaceprogram.com/threads/77494-How-should-we-get-rid-of-Nuclear-Waste?p=1114295&viewfull=1#post1114295

      Of course there is always the potential for some careless explorers to stumble upon spent nuclear waste tens of thousands of years in the future, but even in the worst case scenario, we’re still probably looking at far less harm than even a single year’s worth of coal mining causes.

      It would be great if we could produce energy with zero potential for harm, but unfortunately it’s impossible. For base load generation, nuclear is still probably the best option available.

      1. Formerly known as @ireland.com

        “For base load generation, nuclear is still probably the best option available.”

        That is the classic pro-nuclear line. Renewable energy can be stored, using innovative means, such as using the excess to pump water uphill, so that it can be drive turbines on the way down. Battery technology is also improving.

        The old joke about the Irishman who invented the solar powered torch is no longer funny (not that it ever was) because the power can be stored until darkness arrives.

        1. Peadar

          I’m well aware of that, I’m not actually some sort of pro-nuclear shill, I have a MSc. in Sustainable Energy, have worked in the nuclear industry, and am now working as a researcher on conversion technologies for solar, geothermal, and waste heat systems. I’ve got no emotional attachment or investment in any particular form of power generation, apart from a general distaste for fossil fuels.

          Batteries are far too expensive to ever be a viable means of large-scale energy storage without a game-changing advance in technology. Pumped storage is great, but it needs perfect sites, and is still expensive. Turlough Hill, for example, is a 300MW, 6 hour capacity station. Ireland’s electricity demand is about 3.5GW at the moment, which will only rise once it gets colder. It’s quite possible to get ten days without significant wind in Ireland. If we were getting 100% of our electricity from wind, we’d need 350 stations the size of Turlough Hill to take up the slack in case that happened (12 would have to be running continuously to generate enough power, and over 10 days, you’d burn through 30 sets of 12). Turlough Hill cost about €200 million to build in today’s money (as a lower estimate), so we’d be looking at a cost of at least 70 billion euro, as well as turning almost every decent sized hill in Ireland into a power station.

          It’s just not practical on such a grand scale.

          1. Formerly known as @ireland.com

            “Batteries are far too expensive to ever be a viable means of large-scale energy storage without a game-changing advance in technology.”

            I can buy batteries for my home, today:

            Scientists are working on improving battery technology. I reckon the profit motive is a strong one:

            “Storage is where PV was five or 10 years ago,” Tom Werner, SunPower’s chief executive said during his first visit to Australia this week. “Consumers will go from being essentially passive to having total control of your energy bill within five to 10 years.”

  11. deliverancecountry

    We have more than enough energy coming in from the ocean so if we are going to invest billions here is no reason we can’t build an infrastructure that will harvest all this free energy where everything can be reused or recycled after. No importing fuel and no burying waste.

  12. Pothole

    will telsa’s new batteries get to a point where they can become manage the baseload requirements?

    1. Peadar

      I strongly doubt it. In terms of energy storage, batteries are good because they are compact and they can discharge their energy very quickly. Cost-wise, they are pretty rubbish, and efficiency-wise they’re only okay.

      The best way we have of storing energy at the moment is pumped storage, have two lakes, one on top of a hill, the other at the bottom. When it’s windy, use the extra energy produced by the turbines to pump water into the upper lake, when it’s not windy, run the water back down through turbines to take up the slack. You need a lot of capacity though, and even though pumped storage i the best of the current technologies, it still pushes the price of large-scale wind up.

  13. Formerly known as @ireland.com

    I see that the UK Government is guaranteeing the price they will pay for the energy produced, at double the current rate.

    So, they are artificially supporting an uneconomical solution. Wouldn’t it be a lot better to invest in new technologies, renewables, which might provide the same amount of power, without the radiation waste and accident risks?

    Typical Tories, so much for the free market.

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