Antinuclear

Australian news, and some related international items

Small nuclear reactors emerge as energy option, but risks loom

The search for alternative sources to Russian energy during the war in Ukraine has refocused attention on smaller, easier-to-build nuclear power stations.

The Indian Express, By: AP Nicosia (cyprus) September 11, 2022. A global search for alternative sources to Russian energy during the war in Ukraine has refocused attention on smaller, easier-to-build nuclear power stations, which proponents say could provide a cheaper, more efficient alternative to older model mega-plants…………

While Rolls-Royce SMR and its competitors have signed deals with countries from Britain to Poland to start building the stations, they are many years away from operating and cannot solve the energy crisis now hitting Europe.

Nuclear power also poses risks, including disposing of highly radioactive waste and keeping that technology out of the hands of rogue countries or nefarious groups that may pursue a nuclear weapons program.Those risks have been accentuated following the shelling around Europe’s largest nuclear power plant in Zaporizhzhia, Ukraine, which has raised fears of potential nuclear disaster in the wake of the war

………………………………. Similarly, Oregon-based NuScale Power signed agreements last year with two Polish companies — copper and silver producer KGHM and energy producer UNIMOT — to explore the possibility of building SMRs to power heavy industry. ……….. Rolls-Royce SMR said last month that it signed a deal with Dutch development company ULC-Energy to look into setting up SMRs in the Netherlands. Another partner is Turkey, where Russia is building the Akkuyu nuclear power plant on the southern coast. Environmentalists say the region is seismically active and could be a target for terrorists.

The introduction of unproven nuclear power technology in the form of SMRs doesn’t sit well with environmentalists, who argue that proliferation of small reactors will exacerbate the problem of how to dispose of highly radioactive nuclear waste.“Unfortunately, Turkey is governed by an incompetent administration that has turned it into a ‘test bed’ for corporations,” said Koray Dogan Urbarli, a spokesman for Turkey’s Green Party.“It is giving up the sovereignty of a certain region for at least 100 years for Russia to build a nuclear power plant. This incompetence and lobbying power make Turkey an easy target for SMRs,” said Koray, adding that his party eschews technology with an “uncertain future.”

……………….. M.V. Ramana, professor of public policy and global affairs at the University of British Columbia, cites research suggesting there’s “no demonstrated way” to ensure nuclear waste stored in what authorities consider to be secure sites won’t escape in the future. The constant heat generated by the waste could alter rock formations where it’s stored and allow water seepage, while future mining activities could compromise a nuclear waste site’s integrity, said Ramana, who specializes in international security and nuclear energy.

Skeptics also raise the risks of possibly exporting such technology in politically tumultuous regions……………

Ramana said that there’s no guarantee nations will follow the rules. “Any country acquiring nuclear reactors automatically enhances its capacity to make nuclear weapons,” he said, adding that every SMR could produce “around 10 bombs worth of plutonium each year.”…………………………… more https://indianexpress.com/article/technology/science/small-nuclear-reactors-emerge-as-energy-option-but-risks-loom-8143584/

September 12, 2022 - Posted by | Uncategorized

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