Satanic nukes? Finnish plant’s cost overruns to $6.66 billion

666.jpgReuters reports the news — or perhaps I should call it the Revelation:

The expected building costs of a new nuclear reactor in Finland by France’s Areva have increased to 4.5 billion euros ($6.66 billion) from 3 billion.

Last year Bloomberg had a long article on the troubles plaguing Finland’s Olkiluoto-3, “the first nuclear plant ordered in Western Europe since the 1986 Chernobyl disaster.” By 2007, the plant had been delayed two years thanks to “flawed welds for the reactor’s steel liner, unusable water-coolant pipes and suspect concrete in the foundation.” It was also more than 25 percent over its 3 billion-euro ($4 billion) budget.

Yet a year later, the cost was up 50%, and Finland’s Radiation and Nuclear Safety Authority said “the supervision and ‘safety culture’ of welding at the Olkiluoto-3 nuclear plant did not meet all of its standards and must be improved.”

Who could be responsible for all these flaws and cost overruns? Could it be … Satan? After all, The Book of Revelation clearly states:

1: And I stood upon the sand of the sea, and saw a beast rise up out of the sea, having seven heads and ten horns, and upon his horns ten crowns, and upon his heads the name of blasphemy….
17: And that no man might buy or sell, save he that had the mark, or the name of the beast, or the number of his name.
18: Here is wisdom. Let him that hath understanding count the number of the beast: for it is the number of a man; and his number is Six hundred threescore and six.

Okay, maybe I am watching too much Fringe. Still, it can’t be good.

In any case, everything you could possibly want to know about plant costs and the so-called “nuclear Renaissance” can be found in my Center for American Progress report, “The Self-limiting Future of Nuclear Power.” For a shorter, more readable version try “Nuclear bomb.”

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26 Responses to Satanic nukes? Finnish plant’s cost overruns to $6.66 billion

  1. Bob Wallace says:

    Biblical update.

    666 is probably a mistranslation and the real “devil number” is 616.

    Which makes this a hell of a cost overrun – plus.

  2. paulm says:

    Well the destruction has started. The city of Gonaives is all but destroyed, every house had been damaged or swamped by mud.

    Hedi Annabi said the scale of the disaster was beyond what the UN and Haitian authorities could deal with….

    Haiti wont be recovering – it is now on its way to be a completely failed state. (And we are only 1/2 through this Hurricane season).

    It seems that Climate change is picking our city’s off one by one and were not reacting to it fast enough….New Orleans, Galvaston, Gonaives and those in in Asia.

    Revelations here and now.

  3. Earl Killian says:

    Bob, I wouldn’t call it a mistranslation. There were two ways to spell Emperor Nero’s title, one added up to 616, the other to 666 using Hebrew numerology. The earliest editions (e.g. Papyrus 115, from the 3rd century) used the first number, and later ones used the second number.

    Using a similar system with our 26-letter alphabet instead of the Hebrew alphabet, the number is for “President Bush” is 743, for “President McCain” it is 539, and for “President Obama” it is 537. “President Palin” is closest to 616 or 666 at 593.

  4. john says:


    I am always amazed at your encyclopedic — not to mention highly eclectic — span of knowledge! And best of all it’s leavened with wit and wisdom.

  5. Megan Michaels says:

    I have read the book Hell and High Water and numerous others. I have posted many comments from Climate Progress on Current TV and talked the book up with friends and foes alike.

    I am extremely disappointed and disagree with Romm’s assessment that both nuclear and coal is a part of our energy future. I cannot and will not support that theory.

    I live in CA and with all our problems I know we have made huge strides. I would encourage all of you who are scientists to keep exploring, pretend coal and nuclear do not and cannot exist, and then think outside the box.

    I am not alone is saying I will pay more for clean renewaables. I do not have much money, in fact am now a master’s level educated non homeowner who is barely getting by.

    Houses should be using grey water for toilets and other parts of the house/yard. Alone grey water for toilets would be significant.

    Why is it that communities cannot have more localized wind/solar grids and not depend upon national size? Why cannot all roofs be white and use green wherever possible. Why are there not ways to create more green around communities?

    If as Romm states CA’s energy use has remained flat due to many innovations why cannot other parts of the nation do the same? Why cannot we have solar/electric public transportation?

    Nuclear and coal are harmful and I will fight to my death to keep them from being built. I am not the only one.

    People may laugh at the WE CAN SOLVE IT campaign yet I am telling all of you that civil disobedience looks far better than nuclear or coal which both have huge consequences.

    A huge grid could be invested in in the price that all of those would take. Look at the cost overrunns in France for nuclear.

    You guys are the scientists. You do not have to convince me or 78% of US citizens who believe in global warming.

    Scientists that new this and were muffled by Bush? Why in the hell did they not take a stand as whistle blowers or quit in block and speak out. WE can no longer be complacent or just protect me and mine.

    I worked in public service and I spoke out against abuses I saw all of the time and yes I was not popular but so what? I slept fine at night and my clients (am a therapist) were helped.

    I cannot promote the book Hell and High Water nor support anyone who believes in the oxymoron clean coal or nuclear power.

    If those are not options new doors will open, think and become creative and then quit looking back and start looking forward.

    I am a believer in global warming. I support organizations fighting it to the point I deny myself vacations, new clothing, and entertainment budget. I am putting my money where my mouth is. No nuclear no coal. Create and create some more.

    Wind, solar, wave, building standards, green areas, white roofs, solar and wind in residential areas, small electric cars for city driving, gas engines banned.

    I know the power of big oil, neocons and all I can say is are we going to take our country back or sell out the earth?

    Megan McKenzie Michaels

  6. Megan Michaels says:

    I apologize for the typing errors and grammatical errors in the above post. Instead of wasting time re posting please accept that I realize now I did not proof read well enough due to my angst over nuclear, coal, and in action.

  7. Megan, you can hate nuclear power all you want but it is the way to have a clean environment and have a technological society. I encourage you to read further than the anti-nuke sites and learn more about real nuclear power, not the boogie-man that has been constructed for you.

    And if your mind is so closed that it can never be changed, so be it. Your opinion does not alter the laws of physics. I am one of those scientists and engineers you mention, and I cannot ignore the best option towards solving our energy/environmental crisis, regardless of what you think.

  8. Steve Bloom says:

    Megan, why do you think Joe supports coal or nuclear? He very much does not.

  9. MikeB says:

    Personally, I have nothing against nuclear, apart from the fact that it seems to cost me (as a UK taxpayer) a fortune in subsidies (with more on the way), with no decent answers as to how it will dispose of the nuclear waste it already has, or how it will pay for itself in any meaningful commercial terms. I want the quickest, cheapest, most efficent and climate friendly way of producing power. Given the choice between ‘alternatives’ and the nuclear industry, I recall the dictum of the late great Molly Irvins:

    When you wonder if a politician is lying, you should examine three things.
    Look at the record, look at the record, and then look at the record.

    Given nuclears track-record, I say they should fend for themselves

  10. I am a scientist and an engineer. Here is an easy to read book for you:
    “Power to Save the World; The Truth About Nuclear Energy” by
    Gwyneth Cravens, 2007 Finally a truthful book about nuclear
    power. Gwyneth Cravens is a former anti-nuclear activist.

    Page 13 has a chart of greenhouse gas emissions from electricity
    production. Nuclear power produces less greenhouse gas [CO2]
    than any other source, including coal, natural gas, hydro, solar and
    wind. Building wind turbines and towers also involve industrial
    processes such as concrete and steel making. Wind turbines
    produce a total of 58 grams of CO2 per kilowatt hour. Nuclear
    power plants produce a total of 30 grams of CO2 per kilowatt
    hour, the lowest. Coal plants produce the most, between 966 and
    1306 grams of CO2 per kilowatt hour. Solar power produces
    between 100 and 280 grams of CO2 per kilowatt hour. Hydro
    power produces 240 grams of CO2 per kilowatt hour. Natural gas
    produces between 439 and 688 grams of CO2 per kilowatt hour.
    Remember the total is the sum of direct emissions from burning fuel
    and indirect emissions from the life cycle, which means the
    industrial processes required to build it. Again, nuclear comes in
    the lowest. Nuclear would produce even less CO2 per kilowatt
    hour if the safety were lowered to the same level as other sources
    of electricity. Switching from coal to nuclear is a 97% reduction in
    electricity’s 40% of our CO2 output.

    Page 15: The Sierra Club used to favor nuclear power over hydro
    but switched for political reasons.

    Page 17: Coal kills 24000 Americans and 400000 Chinese every
    year. Nuclear has killed ZERO Americans total. Hydro has
    killed 1000 Americans and hundreds of thousands of Chinese.

    Page 35: Your golf clubs may contain depleted uranium [DU].
    Don’t worry, and don’t confuse DU with spent fuel. DU is what is
    removed from the uranium to make it enriched in U235. DU is
    pure U238. U238 has such a long half life that it is almost not
    radioactive. DU is safe to handle, but don’t eat it because it is a
    chemical poison. Heavy metals in general are poisons, radioactive
    or not. DU has other uses that depend on its high density.

    Page 50: Power reactors make Plutonium 240 [Pu240]. Pu240 is
    useless for making bombs. Plutonium bombs require Pu239.
    Pu239 is made in reactors that are specialized for making Pu239.
    Governments own Pu239 makers, not power companies.

    Page 60: 0.0007 pounds of uranium enriched to 4% without
    recycling produces as much energy as 149 gallons of oil or 157
    gallons of regular gasoline or 17000 cubic feet of natural gas or
    1780 pounds of coal.

    Page 70: Natural background radiation where the author happens
    to be at the time is higher than what people living at Chernobyl are
    getting. The US national average background radiation is 360

    Page 71: The natural background radiation in northeastern
    Washington state is 1700 millirem/year.
    The natural background radiation on the Zuni uplift is 500 to 700
    The natural background radiation in New Mexico is greater than the
    calculated dose from the Three Mile Island meltdown, if you were
    next to the reactor.
    A chest x-ray gives you 10 millirem.

    ======book continues========

    Page 72: The natural background radiation inside Grand Central
    Station is 600 millirem/year because Grand Central Station is made
    of granite. [ALL rocks are radioactive.]
    The allowed exposure to the public from a nuclear power plant is
    15 millirem/year.
    A set of dental X-rays gives you 39 millirem.

    Page 74: Smoking a pack and a half of cigarettes a day gives your
    bronchial airways 1300 millirems/year according to the NCRP OR
    8000 millirems/year according to the National Academy of

    Page 75: A coal fired power plant gives you 100 to 400 times as
    much radiation as a nuclear power plant. Worldwide, an average
    person gets 0.01 millirem/year from nuclear power plants, the same
    as eating one banana. Bananas contain potassium and some of the
    potassium is radioactive potassium 40. This has always been the

    Page 76: The cancer rate in New Mexico is much lower than the
    national average but the natural background radiation is much
    higher than average. The highest rates of cancer are around heavy
    industry, chemical factories and petrochemical factories. [Benzene,
    a petroleum distillate, is a very powerful carcinogen.]

    Page 77: Natural gas contains radon, a radioactive gas.

    Page 86: Among 80000 nuclear bomb survivors from Hiroshima and Nagasaki, the cancer rate was only 6% higher than expected. Radiation is very weak at causing cancer.

    Page 90: At Chernobyl, only 13 to 30% of the reactor’s 190 metric
    tons of fuel evaporated. .13X190=24.7 tons.
    .3X190=57 tons. [Much lower than the previous estimate of 200
    tons, and trivial compared to what coal fired power plants give you.]

    Page 98: There is a table of millirems per year from the
    background in a list of inhabited places.
    Chernobyl: 490 millirem/year
    Guarapari, Brazil: 3700 millirem/year
    Tamil Nadu, India: 5300 millirem/year
    Ramsar, Iran: 8900 to 13200 millirem/year
    Zero excess cancer deaths are recorded. All are natural except for

    Page 99: There was an epidemic of PSYCHOSOMATIC illnesses
    caused by the Chernobyl accident.

    Page 100: Only 50 deaths can be directly attributed to radiation at

    Page 140: “Troublemakers know we humans instinctively tend to”
    think of the worst case as the prediction. People think the false
    urban legends about Chernobyl are the norm. [Human instincts
    were evolved over the past 400 Million years of pre-stone-age.
    Human instincts are no longer applicable, but, without training as a
    scientist, most people operate instinctively. Your instincts, and
    mine, are just plain wrong.] Probabilistic Risk Assessment is a
    much better method of making decisions, but it requires a lot of
    science, math and computer time. We have accumulated 12
    Thousand reactor years of safe operation. [Chernobyl is unlike any
    reactor in the western world. American reactors can NOT do what
    Chernobyl did.]

    Page 144: “[A] terrorist trying to crash a jet into a spent-fuel pool
    would fail to cause a disaster.”

    Page 153: “By 2013 a total of 500 metric tons, or the equivalent of 20,000 warheads, will be turned into low-enriched fuel with the energy equivalent of three billion tons of coal (thirty million coal cars).”

    Page 173: “The life span of people in lands with electricity is double that of people in places where there is none,”

    Page 178: A discussion of the generations of reactors. The author omits Generation Zero, the very first reactor ever built, in 1944. The reactors at Chernobyl [there are 3 left at the same site] are much like Generation Zero and lack true containment buildings.

    Page 179: The USA is now on Generation 4 reactors. Generation 4 reactors are impossible to melt down, no matter what the operators do.

    Page 180: “”In 2006, more than 435 reactors in thirty two countries supplied 16 percent of the world’s electricity with a safety record far superior to that of fossil fuel or hydroelectric generation — and that’s including the Chernobyl fatalities.”

    Page 181: The core of the reactor at Three Mile Island melted down as badly as the core at Chernobyl, but the reactor at Three Mile Island had a containment building. The containment building did its job. NOBODY was injured.

    Page 183: A helicopter above Three Mile Island measured radiation. [If the radiation released from a nuclear plant was deuterium or tritium, the hydrogen goes straight up and leaves the planet earth, never to return. Deuterium and tritium are “heavy” hydrogen. The earth does not have enough gravity to hold hydrogen or helium. A release of deuterium or tritium gives you and the earth zero radiation.] There was never any danger to people on the ground at Three Mile Island.

    Page 184: The New York Times wrote 120 articles per year on automobile accidents covering 50,000 deaths and 200 articles per year on nuclear power plant accidents covering ZERO deaths. TV news coverage uses inflammatory language regardless of the fact that nobody died and nobody was injured by accidents at nuclear power plants.

    Page 187: The health effects of the Three Mile Island meltdown were psychological.

    Page 190: “In over twelve thousand cumulative reactor-years of nuclear plants making electricity in thirty two countries, there have been only two major accidents in the history of nuclear power, Chernobyl and Three Mile Island-2.” [Reactor number 2 at Three Mile Island.]

    Page 193: Gwyneth Cravens visits a coal fired power plant. It is everything she expected of a nuclear power plant.

    Page 195: The coal fired power plant at Riverbend, North Carolina makes 500 megawatts. It requires 14,300 train cars of coal per year. Coal is 44% of the tonnage for Class I railroads and provides 21% of the railroad’s revenue. There were 154 coal mining fatalities from 2002 to 2006. The Riverbend plant consumes 4,500 tons of coal per day. The plant is super dirty and super noisy.

    Page 196: The captured fly ash [from a COAL fired power plant] includes arsenic, lead, molybdenum, cadmium, chromium, uranium and thorium. The fly ash is mixed with water, then dried out. Coal waste goes into bowling balls, golf balls, wallboard, paving materials and land fills. Mercury is an invisible gas as it exits the stacks. “Coal-fired plants are the biggest producers of mercury emissions in the country, spouting fifty unregulated tons per year.” “A 1,000-megawatt coal plant also freely disperses about twenty-seven metric tons of radiological material a year, exposing people to much more low-level radiation than a nuclear plant would.”

    Page 197: “If you live within fifty miles of a coal-fired plant, you’re exposed to 0.03 millirem a year. Living near a nuclear plant exposes you to 0.009 millirem a year.” “Those [soft coal burning] plants give off four hundred times more radio nuclides a year than a nuclear plant-one to four millirem.” “In the United States in 1999, coal combustion produced over 1,000 tons of uranium and 2,500 tons of thorium. This is enough fissile material to exceed the amount consumed by all the nuclear power reactors in the country in a year. After World War II, when scientists believed uranium to be rare, they considered extracting it from fly ash.”

    Page 198: “Every year a single 500-megawatt coal-fired plant alone sends up into the sky the same amount of carbon dioxide as 750,000 cars do.”

    Page 199: “The average American city-dweller today is responsible for about four tons of coal a year going up as smoke. Since electricity generation accounts for 92 percent, or 1.039 billion tons, of the coal we burn, it’s our reliance on it that helps make our nation the biggest single per capita contributor to the earth’s burden of anthropogenic greenhouse gasses. Our nation’s 626 coal-fired plants, over 500 of them quite old, are major offenders. America’s coal production reached a record 1.133 billion tons in 2005, while consumption reached a record 1.128 billion tons.”
    “[C]oal combustion…..causes an estimated twenty-four thousand premature deaths a year.”

    Page 200 “The industry is planning about 154 new American coal-fired plants.” “Gregory H. Boyce, Peabody’s president and chief executive officer, and one of the biggest donors to the Republican Party, served as chairman of a Department of Energy advisory panel that recommended exemptions to the Clean Air Act that boost coal’s clout over the next two decades.”

    Page 201: “Two truckloads of uranium ore contain the same energy to make electricity as two million tons of coal. “To get a million BTUs, fuel oil costs nine dollars, natural gas six dollars, coal a dollar-eighty-fife, nuclear fifty cents.”

    Page 202: Gwyneth Cravens visits a nuclear power plant. She is amazed at the quiet, the cleanliness, the safety and the security.

    Page 208: “To replace the power generated by Indian Point with a wind farm would require three hundred thousand acres.”

    Page 211: “In 2005, the production cost of electricity from nuclear power on average cost 1.72 cents per kilowatt-hour; from coal-fired plants 2.21; from natural gas 7.5, and from oil 8.09. American nuclear power reactors operated that year around the clock at about 90 percent capacity, whereas coal-fired plants operated at about 73 percent, hydroelectric plants at 29 percent, natural gas from 16 to 38 percent, wind at 27 percent, solar at 19 percent, and geothermal at 75 percent.” The costs per kilowatt hour for solar and wind are 600 or more times the cost for coal, and that is in sunny and windy places, respectively.

    Page 214: “[T]he [nuclear] industry is self-insured.” Liability insurance is NOT paid by tax payers.

    Page 216: Barriers. Terrorists will never get into a nuclear power plant. Quit being paranoid.

    Page 227: “The containment structures for power reactors,… are among the most durable structures on the planet: they’re constructed to withstand 200-mile-per-hour hurricanes, tornadoes, earthquakes, floods, all of which can provide a more energetic impact than anything terrorists would have at their disposal apart from a hydrogen bomb.” [What a waste of a perfectly good H-bomb!]

    Page 238: “As of 2006, nuclear powered submarines and ships had safely traveled a total of 134 million miles, and registered 5,700 naval reactor-years of safe operation of a total of 254 reactors.”

    Page 244: To replace our gasoline with hydrogen in the US, we would have to build 4,000 new nuclear reactors to provide power to make hydrogen and oxygen from water.

    Page 245: “Gasoline is denser and contains thousands of times more energy than its equivalent [volume] in hydrogen, so you can have a relatively small gasoline tank in your car.”

    Page 246: “Even a few watts from time to time have been found to make a difference in health and life expectancy.”

    Page 249: “The manufacture of photovoltaic panels requires highly toxic heavy metals, gasses, and solvents that are carcinogenic. …….. If a residential fire burns a solar panel, people would be at risk for exposure to toxic vapors and smoke, … . If modules are dumped into municipal landfills, then heavy metals such as arsenic and lead can leach into the soil and water table. Hundreds of thousands of years from now, some of those substances will still not have decayed: their life spans are essentially eternal.”

    Page 250: “Solar farms big enough to supply 1,000 megawatts per year [sic] or more would cover over fifty square miles and produce a quantity of toxic waste that would be significant.”
    “For the 70 to 80 percent of the time when nature isn’t cooperating [with your solar power scheme], you need the grid or a fossil-fuel generator.”
    “The largest systems of unsubsidized solar energy in a sunny place range from 22 to 40 cents per kilowatt-hour, in other words, solar is the costliest alternative energy of all.”

    Page 251: Solar power requires cutting down trees to keep the trees from shading your solar panels.
    “Wind tends to fail during heat waves. … Wind power turned out to be highly unreliable, with capacity plunging from its usual 33 percent to 4 percent during the time of peak demand.”

    Page 257: World CO2 emissions from electricity generation come to 9,500 million metric tons a year. Using a small footprint, hundreds of nuclear plants in more than thirty countries cut carbon emissions by 600 million metric tons every year.”

    Page 269: “[E]very day the collective households and industries of America throw away nearly a million tons of garbage containing toxic heavy metals and dangerous chemicals, as well as plastics that will never break down. That garbage will be our culture’s real legacy, enduring for millions of years after all the present nuclear waste has decayed.”

    Page 290: There is a mistake: She says that the Waste Isolation Pilot Plant in New Mexico is the only nuclear waste repository in operation. France has one.

    Page 363: France can build a nuclear power plant in 5 years.

  11. Yucca Mountain contains an enormous supply of nuclear fuel that should not be wasted. We don’t recycle nuclear fuel because spent fuel is valuable and people steal it. The place it went that it wasn’t supposed to go to is Israel. This happened in a small town near Pittsburgh, PA circa 1970. A company called Numec was in the business of reprocessing nuclear fuel. I almost took a job there, designing a nuclear battery for a heart pacemaker. [The army offered me more money to work on nuclear weapons effects.] [A nuclear battery would have the advantage of lasting many times as long as any other battery, eliminating many surgeries to replace batteries.] Numec did NOT have a reactor. Numec “lost” a quantity of reactor grade uranium. It wound up in Israel. The Israelis have fueled both their nuclear power plants and their nuclear weapons by stealing nuclear “waste.” See:
    It could work for any other country, such as Iran or the United States. It is only when you don’t have access to nuclear “waste” that you have to do the difficult process of enriching uranium, unless you have a Canadian “CANDU” reactor or a British Magnox reactor, both of which run on unenriched uranium. Numec is no longer in business. The reprocessing of nuclear fuel in the US stopped. That was the only politically possible solution at that time, given that private corporations did the reprocessing. My solution would be to reprocess the fuel at a Government
    Owned Government Operated [GOGO] facility. At a GOGO plant, bureaucracy and the multiplicity of ethnicity and religion would disable the transportation of uranium to Israel or to any unauthorized place. Nothing heavier than a secret would get out.

    I have no financial stake in the nuclear power industry, and I never have. Nobody is paying me to say this.

  12. on Chernobyl: A friend of mine from Oak Ridge National Lab wrote to me: “The reactor that had the accident at Chernobyl was very out-of-date (1st generation) design that has to be precisely controlled to prevent cooling water from boiling. Water carries away heat and moderates far better than bubbles, and as bubbles
    form in water, the reactor goes increasingly unstable. What caused Chernobyl to blow its top was residual water in the core suddenly going to high pressure steam and erupting into a steam explosion. Since the building top was simply resting by its weight on the walls, not a containment vessel at all, the steam explosion burped the top off its position allowing outside air in, subsequently igniting a carbon fire.” The United States and other Western countries DO NOT now build and do not now posses or operate ANY reactors of such primitive design. Nor do we allow containment buildings to have easily removable tops. Containment buildings in the Western hemisphere are required to be pressure vessels.
    The Chernobyl accident released only 200 tons of radioactive material, as much as a coal-fired power plant would release in 7 years and 5 months. The Chernobyl accident had a shorter “stack” than coal-fired power plants. The radioactive material was released in a short time at ground level. That is why the Chernobyl accident had impact. Only 52 people died at Chernobyl , mostly fire fighters, a hazardous job in any case. The Three Mile Island incident did NOT release a noticeable amount of radiation into its neighborhood, it was just expensive to clean up the inside of the reactor. Nobody died and nobody was injured at Three Mile Island.

  13. As a sophomore undergraduate student in Physics, your homework in Probability and Statistics class may include figuring out when the second coming would be required, assuming that the bible was 100% true in the year zero. That is, when would the bible be down to 50% true? The popular and professors’ answer in 1965 was the year 500. The true answer: A friend of mine was born and raised in Budapest, Hungary. As an adult, he came here and stayed. After 25 years, he visited his home town of Budapest. He was unable to communicate with his high school classmates because the Hungarian language had changed so much. The correct answer is less than 25 years. The first gospel was not written down until 50 years after the alleged events and then in a different language. The people who told the story were at about the same level of civilization as “wild Indians”, I mean Native Americans before Columbus got here. We have all played or seen played the game called “Telephone” in which a story is passed down a line of re-tellers. By the Sixth re-telling, the story has no resemblance to the original. The gospel story had to have been re-told at least 6 times before it was mis-translated the first time. [Note that whoever wrote it down the first time was free to write whatever he wanted to. The storytellers were illiterate and unable to check his written text by reading it. Besides that, he wrote in Greek rather than Aramaic.] Conclusion: There is no truth anywhere in the bible, and there never was. There is no way to know what “jesus” or “mohammed” or any other such character actually said or did.

    ALL of the jurisdictions that were formerly in the jurisdiction of religion have been taken over by Science. There is no longer a need to debate the issue. Religion is an unfortunate side effect of having evolved from a chimpanzee-like animal in a very brief 6 or 7 million years. “God” will not save us from the consequences of global warming or an asteroid impact or a tornado because there is no such critter as “god.” There is likewise no devil. Ethics and morality are instinctive, not derived from religion. Female instinct has greater force in morality than male instinct because the female is in command of the sexual encounter. Look up “Sociobiology”. The origin of the Universe is the subject of Cosmology which is part of astronomy which is part of the science of physics.
    Religion is a SCAM. ANY religion, there are 10,000 to choose from at any one time. People keep inventing new religions [for the benefit of the “prophet,” of course] and forgetting other religions. ALL preachers, priests, imams, rabbis, iatolas, etc. belong in jail for “grand theft, bunko type”.

  14. Peter Wood says:

    The crucial figure is not the capital cost of the plant, it is the capital cost per unit of power. Wikipedia says that this reactor is 1.6 GW. This leads to a capital cost of US$4162/kW. It seems to me that renewables (usually with a lower capacity factor but also much lower operating costs) would easily be able to complete with nuclear power.

    Remark: Often costs of various different energy sources are given in terms of aggregated capital and operational costs (usually in cents per kilowatt hour). In order to aggregate these sorts of measurements you need to either make assumptions about the “discount rate” or the lifetime of the source. If these assumptions are not stated, then the figures are meaningless. A higher discount rate means that the operational costs are less significant and renewables therefore seem less economic.

  15. Earl Killian says:

    Asteroid Miner, you quote 30 g CO2e/kWh for nuclear. Consider the numbers used by Stanford’s Mark Jacobson for lifecycle emissions:

    Solar PV 19-59
    CSP 8.5-11.3
    Wind 2.8-7.4
    Geothermal 15.1-5
    Hydroelectric 17-22
    Wave 21.7
    Tidal 14
    Nuclear 9-70

    Your 30 is in the middle of the range he quotes, but note his numbers for many technologies is lower.

    To that he adds “opportunity cost emissions due to delays”:

    Solar PV 0
    CSP 0
    Wind 0
    Geothermal 1-6
    Hydroelectric 31-49
    Wave 20-41
    Tidal 20-41
    Nuclear 59-106

    Personally I believe in an “all of the above” approach is called for, but the delays associated with nuclear make it one of the least useful ways to attack greenhouse pollution in the next decade.

  16. Cyril R. says:

    The problem about the nuclear debate is that it is still highly polarized. I’ve read many books on nuclear power, and all of them were either decidedly anti-nuclear or decidedly pro-nuclear. There is always selective information shopping to prove the author’s point. It’s always one side that gets highlighted, always omissions, sometimes even straight lies.

    I would like to read a book that transcends this subjectivity and doesn’t fall into the pitfalls of handwaving and trivializing or glorifying issues.

  17. The book you are asking for would have been very hard to write any time after about 1968. By then nuclear energy had already replaced oil costing billions of dollars and tens of human lives with uranium costing much less; that fact has made everyone since take sides.

  18. Bob Wallace says:

    Sorry Cowan. That makes no sense.

    Many of us have switched from being nuclear-accepting to cautious/opposed for a variety of reasons, mainly safety. I can’t imagine that anyone became anti- because of oil. Oil is simply an arguing point by those who wish to push their nuclear agenda, in my humble opinion.

    I used to think that nuclear was the answer until I started realizing that the stuff, in human hands, was dangerous. Prior to the Russian melt-down. I lived in the Sierra foothills, downwind from Rancho Seco.

    Reading the stream of problems that Seco had, watching them install sirens out in ranch country so that we could get a bit of warning before we toasted – that pretty much made me recognize the doofus factor.

    Pro-nuke people, seemingly mostly engineers, talk about the beauty of a well-built reactor. But they never seem to acknowledge that a) engineers sometimes make mistakes, b) contractors often make mistakes, and c) you can count on ‘workers’ making mistakes.

    Everyone that I know who is opposed to nuclear is so because they realize that the stuff is dangerous. And left in human hands screw ups will happen with dangerous stuff.

    Anyone who doesn’t recognize that is just not being honest with himself.

    BTW, drove past the now shut down Humboldt Bay reactor twice today.

    Among other problems that led to its closure – cracked containment dome and constructed on an active earthquake fault line. Little stuff like multiple incidences of faking test results to cover up radiation leaks.

    Also there’s one fuel rod that they just can’t seem to find in the pond….

    I’d love it if nuclear would replace oil. But given that we have safer (and less expensive) options I say “just say no” and let’s get on with our lives.

    You (I assume you’re one) nuclear engineers are bright guys. Retrain and use your abilities to find better solutions to our problems. It’s not like you have to go back and take Physics 101 over….

  19. Cyril R. says:

    I’m worried about a large number of issues that hegemonic nuclear reactors appears to have, to name just a few:

    * mediocre lifecycle EROEI preventing exponential growth
    * increasingly marginal economics (negative learning curve)
    * the investment profile which has low market compatibility
    * the neccisarly large investment capital per unit
    * polarized debate suggesting problems with scaling related to the nature of nuclear projects which is evidently still controversial (public resistance to projects, NIMBY and related phenomena)

    I do not think that these issues can be sufficiently addressed with lightwater reactors.

  20. vakibs says:

    @Bob Wallace:

    I am not a nuclear engineer, but just a fellow human being concerned about the environment.

    Keep thinking Bob. Keep asking the questions.

    What is the technology that has the least scope for human error ?

    What is the technology which is the least harmful for the environment ?

    What are the “existing” statistics on pollution and human deaths, for all the technologies in question ?

    Don’t take any answer for granted, explore all the different venues of information. If you shut your eyes to the facts, you will be responsible for screwing up the environment.

    I say nuclear is the cheapest, the safest, and the friendliest technology to the environment that we currently have. Don’t take my word for granted. Let’s have a sound debate on the facts, not on silly idiotic analogies such as the 666, devil’s number and so on.. In the times to come, more and more environmentalists like me will be inviting you to a rational debate. We’ll find the answers together.

  21. MikeB says:

    Vakibs – if ‘nuclear is the cheapest, the safest, and the friendliest technology to the environment that we currently have’, then why is that nobody who has to use their own money to build rectors actually bothering?

    Archived on Climate Progress is a list of all the subsidies available for nuclear in the US at the moment (Nuclear Pork) Its huge. Enormous. The total subsidies available are pretty much 100% of the total cost of construction, yet remarkably few seem to actually being built. The same goes for Europe. Despite all the noise from the nuclear industry, there are only two currently under construction in Europe. One is the Finnish rector mentioned above, and the other is one in France, constructed by the same French company as the Finnish project. Both are delayed, and both are well over budget.

    If you were an investor, would you go for solar/wind/wave ply efficiency, or an expensive technology which has never managed to survive in the free-market? I notice that AstroidMiner never once mentioned cost in all his lengthy posts. That speaks volumes.

    I’m not against nuclear because of some vague green hatred on nukes: I just think that they should pay their own way with regard to waste, insurance, security, decommissioning and cost per unit, , which should be expected since the industry has been around for 50 years or more. If all the nuke fans out there agree that nuclear can do that, I don’t have a problem. But since it manifestly cannot…

  22. Cyril R. says:

    Nuclear power is definately not the cheapest. Claiming otherwise is dishonest and propagandistic obsoletism. However, it is relatively affordable, all things considered. Coal is quite cheap but we can’t afford it. Really.

    I’m in favour of building more nuclear powerplants. However, I am opposed to:

    1. Using nuclear power as an excuse for the continuation of business as usual. BAU is a collision course with reality, with or without nuclear power.
    2. Using nuclear power as a political power source rather than just for electrical power.
    3. Nuclear absolutism (ie thinking nuclear power can do it all so drop solar, wind, efficiency. This is one of the most unreasonable arguments out there).

    I’m not opposed to subsidies, actually. But IMHO they should be market based subsidies, such as production tax credits (a type of feed-in tariff). This allows equity because all low carbon sources will receive it. No direct gov’t project financing, this is opaque. Market financing, gov’t production subsidies is reasonable as long as there is no favoratism – nuclear, wind and solar all receive the same production subsidy.

    There are various other points. For example, what Mike says, the industry should pay for everything. Same for coal (which is fiendishly difficult) and others. It’s important to create more transparancy in order to assess competitiveness between different technologies. For the same reason there must be equity between production incentives as mentioned above.

    Following from this, Price-Anderson must be abandoned; after all, if nuclear power is so safe, as the enthusiasts (I think correctly) claim, it doesn’t need this type of insurance (it’s only for catastrophic emergencies).

    Finally, a point about the supposed ‘nuclear renaissance’: it is not yet clear whether new nuclear power projects can keep up with the retirement rate. So it is not yet clear whether nuclear power is going to grow beyond it’s current base. Nuclear projects would have to scale rapidly in order to make a quick big difference. There remain important barriers to this, ranging from siting controversies to ancillary project capacity build out potential (enrichtment, fuel fabrication plants etc.) and specialized labor shortages to difficulties (energy, economics) with lower grade ores, unproven alternatives (sea water uranium remains commercially unproven, breeders have so far commerially been a failure) uncertainty of new designs etc etc etc etc etc.

    It’s a big list, and just one of those liabilities could screw things up big time. Policymakers have to be unreasonable, to say the least, to put their trust almost completely in fission.

    I’d suggest a government sponsored crash R&D program on more promising designs like LFTR and see what happens. If it works, great, if not, no big loss, as the R&D program would have a large number of other wildcard energy generating and saving technologies, plus an production incentive program to accellerate what is already in the market (like conventional land based wind).

  23. Earl Killian says:

    Well said, Cyril R. Unfortunately, your to avoid items 1-3 all seem to be the steady state of the pro-nuclear lobby.

  24. Cyril R. says:

    Well yes, a serious problem with many nuclear enthusiasts is their stark and unreasonable positions which makes them seem stark and unreasonable themselves. Which of course doesn’t bring the debate any closer to compromises that inevitably have to be made, much less convince the masses of the oppertunity of nuclear fission.

    Another problem is engineers suggesting technical solutions for problems that are mostly social and political in nature. Bad idea, low chance of succes, high chance of making things worse. I have a bit of a technical background myself, and as temptingly easy and agreeable technical fixes are, they are not always the best solution. Unfortunately, we must observe that many people are highly reluctant to make large changes in their behaviour, and in stead are convinced (or fooling themselves) that technology will fix everything. Technology can fix a lot, but not quite everything, and the things it does fix it won’t do nearly as swift as when combined with conservation. It does look like strong price signals can make big changes in lifestyle, which is one of the reasons why high fossil fuel prices aren’t such a bad thing at all.

  25. MikeB says:

    Cyril R. – I couldn’t agree more with your posts, but like Earl Killian, I’m convinced that the nuclear industry will continue to use items 1-3 to push nuclear build on politicians, and using government cash to support a technology which simply is not viable in a free market.

    I read today that the UK government minister responsible for business insists that nuclear and coal must remain at the heart of UK energy production. This means that nuclear will continue to take the bulk of any carbon-free subsidies on offer (as well as have an unfair advantage on price and supply access), while coal will continue to add to UK carbon emissions. I also understand that Mark Lynas has drunk the nuke KoolAid, and has become fixated with the idea that only nuclear can save us. Its sad that such a notable writer should be so blind to the downsides of nuclear and possible alternatives, although his championing of an incredibly badly thought out wind project in Scotland made me wonder some time ago.

    Nuclear (like ‘clean coal’) has lodged itself in the minds of politicians (and some green campaigners) desperate for a techno-fix, and avoid doing anything which might annoy either voters or special interests. Yet, as Cyril so rightly points out, ‘Technology can fix a lot, but not quite everything’.

    The Guardian recently published a list of 100 green technology companies who can make a difference. I have no problem offering subsidy to them, since they are new and developing technologies, which hold great promise. On the other hand, nuclear has had 50 years to sort out its economics, and failed every time. I’m far from a free-market fanatic, but I find it strange so many (particularly on the right) see nothing wrong in rewarding continual failure in the marketplace with government money, while ignoring viable and cost effective solutions. Sounds a bit like the current Wall Street bailout!

  26. Dillon says:

    Commenting usually isnt my thing, but ive spent an hour on the site, so thanks for the info