Australian news, and some related international items

No place for atomic power amidst climate chaos and pandemics

Nuclear lessons from the corona virus March 22, 2020 by beyondnuclearinternational

No place for atomic power amidst climate chaos and pandemics Beyond Nuclear  By Linda Pentz Gunter

There is nothing like being shut in your own home, alone with your human and animal nearest-and-dearests, to focus the mind on the crises that now swirl outside.

And it is “crises” in the plural, because while all the focus is of course on the corona virus, there is one giant crisis steamrollering toward us that will wreak orders of magnitude more devastation, but somehow does not merit the same kind of emergency action. And that, of course, is climate change.

Reflecting on the corona virus pandemic from my peaceful office eyrie, with no traffic rolling past my windows and only the now audible city birdsong to distract me, it is clear how we got climate change. It is exactly the same mentality that brought us the covid crisis. Recognize a problem; assume it might just right itself; then assume it might not get as bad as predicted; then realize it’s pretty bad but do too little to stop it; then confront a crisis now impossible to adequately mitigate.

Denial seems to be one of the greatest of human achievements. It’s also why we have nuclear power. It will be too cheap to meter. An accident will never happen. We will solve the radioactive waste problem later.

With the climate crisis upon us, it should be patently obvious that building new nuclear power plants anywhere is not an intelligent plan. Sea level rise is a certainty, and fires, flooding, storm surges, and earthquakes are likely to increase both in frequency and force. Building power plants that contain an inventory of long-lived lethally radioactive fuel in such an environment is insane. And then to build them on shorelines, as is currently happening at Hinkley, and is threatened for similar settings at Sizewell and possibly Wylfa — all of them in the UK— is irresponsible in the extreme.

The covid-19 crisis almost certainly won’t be the last such Biblical-style plague to strike us. If we fail to learn our lesson this time around, we will be equally unprepared and again forced to quarantine ourselves and call workforces home. But while wind turbines will keep spinning and solar arrays will continue to collect sunlight without any help from us, workers cannot leave a nuclear power plant untended. Knowing this, why build an installation that cannot be safely abandoned?

The answer, of course, is money. But not the industry’s money. Ours. We are the ones who will pay to keep nuclear plants running, and to build new ones……….

The French government is on record as saying that without Hinkley and Sizewell, the French nuclear brand will be finished. It sees the UK projects as an essential redemptive step, given the EPR, its supposed flagship, has so far been a financial and technical shipwreck.

As the Financial Times pointed out in May 2018, “Avoiding delays in the UK will be crucial if EDF is to persuade international buyers — and its own shareholders, not least the French government — that the EPR’s teething problems are over.” ……..

Maybe all of us, becalmed and decelerated, will start to come to our senses. We may see climate changes for the better as we stop flying and driving and cruise-shipping and needlessly consuming, while factories are idled and our air quality improves. The wake-up call comes at a terrible price. But the bigger cost could be everything.


March 23, 2020 - Posted by | General News

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