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Nuke Power Catch-22:

One criticism of nuclear power is that new facilities are too expensive to build. While heavily regulated, and fiercely opposed in the permitting process, nuclear facilities are also heavily subsidized. A new study also suggests nuclear power plants could be too costly to close. From today's New York Times:

Closing the Indian Point nuclear reactors would make electricity more expensive, leave New York more vulnerable to natural gas shortages and add to pollution that causes global warming, according to a report released on Tuesday by a committee of the National Academy of Sciences.

The committee said that there were no insurmountable technical obstacles to closing the plant. But it asserted that electric demand was growing so fast in the region, and building power plants was so difficult, that simply meeting power needs during peak periods would be a challenge even if the reactors stayed in operation. . . .

"While the committee is optimistic that technical solutions do exist for the replacement of Indian Point, it is considerably less confident that the necessary political, regulatory, financial and institutional mechanisms are in place to facilitate the timely implementation of these replacement options," the report said.

Dick King:
To expensive to close or too expensive to replace [which means too valuable to close]?

We can't close the plant because we need the electricity and because whatever we replaced the plant with would cost too much and would release too much carbon diocide. Sounds like excellent arguments for building more, to me.

-dk
6.7.2006 9:31am
Jack S. (mail) (www):
I was trying to find the answer to "why" close the Indian Point plant in the article and the only inference I could draw was fear. Fear from attack, fear from environmentalists who inherently don't like nuclear power.

At first I thought the plant was at the end of its useful life, but Entergy doesn't seem to think so.

Will NY go the way of CA? Catastrophic stalemate of energy policy such that nothing happens and the state can no longer supply the energy necessary to support it's rapidly growing population?
6.7.2006 10:02am
davod (mail):
There is a push to close Indian Point by activist such as Kennedy who made a commercial directly attacking the power plant. The loss of power is irrelevent to these people.
6.7.2006 10:56am
Leland:
Davod wrote:

There is a push to close Indian Point by activist such as Kennedy who made a commercial directly attacking the power plant. The loss of power is irrelevent to these people.


Thanks for the information. Apparently the harmful effect to the environment, the economy, and the poor is also irrelevant to these people. Better to have energy independence via E85 gasoline (less efficient and produces more smog) than nuclear energy.
6.7.2006 11:14am
Humble Law Student:
Why should elites like Kennedy care? For them, its a matter of principle! barf Or, more likely they won't suffer as greatly from increased electricity prices.
6.7.2006 11:15am
dmoelling (mail):
The "heavily Subsidised" myth for nuclear is still floating around. The original basis was that Nuke R&D was gov't sponsored. That was true in the 1950's-1970's. After that is was mostly unrelated to commercial nuclear power. The other argument was that Price-Anderson Act insurance constituted a subsidy. Actually it was a precursor of modern no-fault insurance systems with an industry wide backup assessment.

At todays prices for fuel, nuclear plants are extremely competitive. The risk is that the regulatory process had too many choke points to stop construction
6.7.2006 11:44am
Freder Frederson (mail):
The "heavily Subsidised" myth for nuclear is still floating around.

Myth? Is it a myth that the government still manufactures all the fuel for nuclear power plants at DOE facilities (albeit run by private contractors)? Is it a myth that there is still a huge DOE national lab and associated facility system dedicated to nuclear research that directly benefits the commercial nuclear power industry? Is it a myth that many (maybe even most) of the operators who run our commercial nuclear plants were trained for free (at least to the commercial operators) by the U.S. Navy? Is it a myth that the Federal Government limits the liability of commercial nuclear power plants in the case of a catastrophic failure? Is it a myth that the Federal Government is responsible for the final disposal of all high-level and trans-uranic waste from commercial nuclear power plants, and the mothballing of the plants at the end of their operating life?

Now tell me again how it is a "myth" that nuclear power is heavily subsidized.
6.7.2006 1:00pm
SeaDrive (mail):
Freder Frederson: You may be right, but your arguments are unsound. 1) The gov't manufacture of fuel is only subsidy if the price is too low. 2) The gov't maintains research labs and other programs that benefit all sorts of energy. It would take careful analysis to determine if nuclear were especially favored. 3) The Navy trains operators for the benefit of the Navy. Etc, etc.

It's certainly a myth that new plants have be subsidized since the new plants themselves are a myth.
6.7.2006 1:30pm
MnZ (mail):

[Nita Lowey] pointed out that the National Academy group said the extra costs from closing Indian Point would be "modest," provided there is time to compensate, by building new plants or improving efficiency.


Hmmm...it sounds like the costs are "modest" only if one ignores the largest costs.
6.7.2006 2:21pm
Broncos:

Despite the report's conclusion that closing Indian Point, which is about 35 miles north of Midtown Manhattan, would present major difficulties for the state, Ms. Lowey said in a phone interview that she was "thrilled" by its findings. "To me, the bottom line is, where there's a will there's a way" to close the plant, she said.


The methodology also sounds familiar.... adaptation of the neocon approach to WMD and Iraq?

It's too bad that acting like a complete ideologue has become completely acceptable.
6.7.2006 2:30pm
Duncan Frissell (mail):
The Price-Anderson Act subsidies are designed to counter "innovations" like strict liability imposed by government in the first place.

If the Feds restored common law liability (negligence only, no strict liability), streamlined licensing, and overrode local commie regulations (which are immoral in any case); nukes would be cheap. The R&D and training "subsidies" are activities carried out by the Feds in connection with national defense (like the training of pilots) that the Feds would do anyway (in a socialized national defense system). Disposal could be done by the companies themselves if deregulated since the quantities involved are small (most nuke waste comes from Defense and Medical/Industrial sources both low level and high level). Power generation doesn't add too much. In any cases, radioactives are valuable for future use and shouldn't be rendered hard-to-recover.

The pebble-bed reactors that will be built in the future ae relatively cheap and safe and don't produce waste which can be used for weapons.

Nukes (if deregulated) represent the only source capable of supplying the doubling and redoubling of electricity production that we will want during this century.

I assume that no one is interested in covering 50 square miles with solar collectors to produce a single 1000-megawatt solar power "plant".
6.7.2006 2:34pm
Freder Frederson (mail):
You may be right, but your arguments are unsound.

1) Uranium is enriched and the fuel rods are made in duel use facilities that also produce nuclear materials for defense purposes. These plants were built by the government starting in World War II for the Atomic Weapons programs and were later also used (and continue to be used) for the civilian nuclear program. Without this massive government investment in the industrial infrastructure to produce nuclear fuel, there would be no market for nuclear fuel, because none would be produced. There is not one private manufacturer of nuclear fuel in the world. Every single fuel rod produced in the 60 plus years of nuclear fission has been produced by a government agency--and only a handful at that: the U.S., the French, the Russians, the Pakistanis the Indians, The Chinese, The North Koreans and probably the Israelis and/or the South Africans; I'm not even sure if the British manufacture their own fuel or get it from us or the French.

2) While the government maintains research labs of many types, the amount DOE spends on the National Lab system, whose mission is specifically nuclear research, is out of all proportion to the contribution that nuclear energy is to nation's energy mix.

3) Indeed, the Navy does need operators for its nuclear powered ships and submarines. But that does not negate the fact that once they have finished their six year commitment they are qualified and ready to run a nuclear reactor, saving the utility the cost of that very expensive training (and placing that burden directly on the government and the American people).
6.7.2006 2:41pm
Freder Frederson (mail):
Disposal could be done by the companies themselves if deregulated since the quantities involved are small (most nuke waste comes from Defense and Medical/Industrial sources both low level and high level).

You really are quite insane aren't you? The high level wastes from the production of nuclear power is a serious problem. High Level Defense and medical waste is more difficult to handle because it tends to be in the form of liquids and sludges (because you are separating out trans-uranic substances out of the irradiated substances from small reactors) and have been building up for over sixty years now. But as far as sheer quantity, nuclear power production has it hands down, especially since we are no longer producing any more tritium or plutonium for defense purposes, which did produce significant amounts of high level and hard to handle wastes.
6.7.2006 2:49pm
Freder Frederson (mail):
I assume that no one is interested in covering 50 square miles with solar collectors to produce a single 1000-megawatt solar power "plant".

Why can't we just create that 1000 megawatts of solar power by placing 50 square miles of solar collectors on the roofs of houses?
6.7.2006 2:52pm
frankcross (mail):
Mr. Frissell, did your common law education ever bring up the case of Rylands v. Fletcher?
6.7.2006 2:56pm
Freder Frederson (mail):
The R&D and training "subsidies" are activities carried out by the Feds in connection with national defense

I still don't see a private entity willing to enrich uranium and produce fuel rods.
6.7.2006 3:17pm
Mr L (mail):
Why can't we just create that 1000 megawatts of solar power by placing 50 square miles of solar collectors on the roofs of houses?

Well, for one, you can't place them as densely on housing. If we restrict ourselves to roofs, we're stuck with a very small amount of usable space (since even in the most packed cities most of the space is taken up by roads, parking lots, etc.). Not to mention there's going to be much lower efficiency since solar panels are quite easy to damage (and steal). It doesn't really work, and would be a nightmare to implement since it is private property and we have rules about government interference there.

While we're on the subject, I'd like to see the costs of solar calculated by the same methodology. Solar Power wouldn't exist without Uncle Sam's help, plus it gets lots of 'free' R&D through green groups, universities, and the like. It's also usually explicitly subsidized by the government -- and not just ours. Germany, for example, gives something like a 1000% bonus to consumers who sell surplus solar energy to the power company.

It's also worth noting that one of the things solar advocates are counting on is the economy of scale to reduce the cost of panels, as otherwise it wouldn't be affordable. Guess what'll happen to nuclear's cost when we cut the red tape and start building more plants?
6.7.2006 3:19pm
paulhager (mail) (www):
There are already some good responses - I'll add a few comments.

Indian Point has been on the anti-nuke hit list for years. That's part of what's behind the study assessing the cost of shutting the plants down.

It's not really accurate to say that there is "not one private manufacturer of nuclear fuel in the world". See, for example, Urenco, a European consortium that provides nuclear fuel. While it is true that U.S. enrichment technology originated in WW II, and even after being sold off, owes its existence to the U.S. government, it is really beside the point. Gaseous diffusion enrichment (i.e., the U.S. technology) is grotesquely inefficient and the relatively newer technologies (such as centrifugation) have made nuclear fuel production an economically viable endeavor. Note: laser enrichment, if industrialized, would potentially be very efficient.

Advanced reactors, such as the aforementioned Pebble Bed, would be safer and more efficient than convention light water designs. I personally like the Molten Salt design (I wrote an article in 1981 about Molten Salt Hybrid fusion-fission reactors - there are references in it to the U.S. Molten Salt Reactor Program). My one concern about the Pebble Bed High-Temperature Gas Reactor (HTGR) is that it requires helium as a coolant/heat transfer medium. Although helium is currently quite plentiful, building large numbers of Pebble Bed HTGR's around the world could encounter a helium bottleneck. That would be ironic, given that helium production is associated with production of oil and natural gas.
6.7.2006 3:27pm
Freder Frederson (mail):
See, for example, Urenco, a European consortium that provides nuclear fuel. While it is true that U.S. enrichment technology originated in WW II, and even after being sold off, owes its existence to the U.S. government

Damn those socialist Europeans. Things are not as they seem. Urenco, although an independent company, is jointly owned by the British, Dutch and German governments, although the Brits do want to privatize their share (the Germans and the Dutch are trying to block it). And the U.S. did not "sell off" their enrichment facilities. The entire DOE (and AEC before them) complex has, from its very inception, been run as a public/private partnership with contractors running individual facilities under the direction of the DOE (or AEC or War Department before them). The National labs have generally been run by universities (e.g. Berkely and University of Chicago) while the production facilities by big corporations (e.g., DuPont and Westinghouse). This is still the model today. Lockheed Martin manages the enrichment plant in Paducah, KY.
6.7.2006 3:48pm
Tom Holsinger (mail):
It's called "life cycle costs". The cost of providing nuclear power includes that for decommissioning plants at the end of their useable life, and disposing of radioactive waste, yet those costs are not amortized in the prices for the electricity and creation of financial reserves for those downstream expenses.

This is a classic cost-shifting game - hide the real costs and stick the public treasury with those.
6.7.2006 3:50pm
Leon Dixon, Independent (mail):
The "expense" of these plants is peculiar to America and is like the terrible expense that occurs when one shoots oneself in the foot. The rest of the world, which graduates many more engineers per year than do we, has a better understanding of the economics of nuclear power.
6.7.2006 3:51pm
logicnazi (mail) (www):
Yes, nuclear energy is government subsidized. However, so are coal power plants. They may also be subsidized directly but the ability to dump their waste into the atmosphere imposes huge costs on society they don't have to bear.

As I linked to before the MIT study on nuclear power concluded that once you take into account the costs of pollution from coal power plants nuclear power is cost competitive everything included. The study can be found here.

Additionally new reactor designs with new fuel technologies (pebble) are way more safe and have other advantages and we know they work.

The simple way to do this is just to demand a certain amount of power come from something besides fossil fuels, remove all the subsidys and barriers to nuclear power (and other types of power) and see what wins out in the market. If renewable energy sources turn out to be feasable to use for large percents of the power (the intermitent nature doesn't cause too many problems) then great that will win otherwise people will build nuclear plants
6.7.2006 3:53pm
TJIT (mail):
Am I correct in assuming that the main reason governments handle the enrichment is.

1. Enrichment technolgy can be used to produce fuel for reactors.

2. Enrichment technology can be used to produce weapon grade nuclear material that would be usable for bomb production.

Because of 2 we don't want a lot of enrichment plants running without ownership / management by responsible governments.

I had assumed this is why governments do most of the fuel production, does anyone know if this correct?
6.7.2006 6:57pm
hey (mail):
TJIT and FF:

Nuclear fuel is produced by government associated elements in many countries. Canada and Britain both have Government associated firms that are involved with the production on nuclear fuel (British Nuclear Fuels... FF you need to do better research). Canada has one of the largest uranium deposits, was a critical part in developing the US and British weapons programs, and is only a non-nuclear power thanks to its strong relationships and proximity to 2 friendly Nuclear powers. Canada controls its entire fuel cycle, has rather a large area to hide plants in, more than 60 years of nuclear experience, and a reather handy, internationally exported, breeder reactor (oops) design (CANDU).

Why are nuclear fuel producers so heavily entwined with the government? It's a stupid question but I'll answer it anyway. The very high security consequences of loose fuel, especially when other powers will hold your government responsible if they trace back the isotopes used in an attack to your country. Claiminig that it's not your fault because it was a private contractor won't go very far.

It also didn't help that the start of civilian nuclear power coincided with the rise of socialism as an operating ideology for western governments, both "left" and "right". When government and intellectuals pushed for the nationalisation or pseudo-nationalisation of industries, especially around power generation, one should not be surprised that only governments are involved in a power related industry. FF do you have problems with subsidies for hydroelectric power or electricity, thanks to the monstrous government subsidies in form of eminent domain and government owned utilities? What about the provision of water? Since most water companies were or are owned by governments does that mean that we should stop its use?

As to the "subsidies"... It's called dual use, and I thought that socialists like FF were supposed to celebrate that, though I guess only when it's for a useless program, rather than a good one. The Feds would be spending just as much on the DOE's nuke programs without the civilian industry (as they effectively have for the past 30 years, since there has been essentially no progress in civilian nuke industry in the US and very limited foreign sales). All forms of energy benefit from government subsidies, and in fact most advances in all technology get substantial boosts from military spending. Telegraph and railroad vendors in the Civil War, chemical industry in all wars, Civil War and WWI especially, electronics and aerospace in WWII and the Cold War... Armies are a great customer, as they want things that work, immediately, and the costs aren't all that important. They're the ultimate early adopter as the only thing more expensive than winning is losing, especially in Total War, or conflicts that are Total War for one side.

Other people have mentioned that nukes are the only type of power that have to pay for all of the externalities of their operations. It is these socially imposed costs (by the government, no less) that are only applied to nuclear power that hamper its widespread use. Thanks to the watermelons (green on the outside, red on the inside) efforts at mass deception, people are convinced that nuclear power is dangerous and is some sort of special threat. That you get more radiation living downwind of a coal plant than a nuke plant isn't mentoined, or at least until the watermelons are attacking one of the other aspects of our civilisation. They are nothing but opponents of civilisation who want us to go back to some supposed agrarian/hunter gatherer paradise where we lived at one with nature (ok so 99% of the species dies, no big deal).

Nukes NOW! Prevent local meddling and obstruction, and work on dealing with the watermelons as they would deal with us!

As to PBRs... He is an issue, but you aren't consuming much of it so as to create a bottleneck issue. He3 fusion plants do bring us back to relying on hydrocarbon deposits, but we still have to make a controlled use of He3 energy poositive before I'll actually get remotely concerned.
6.7.2006 8:31pm
Andy Freeman (mail):
It's interesting that few of the "subsidies" are things that would go away if all the power-nukes in the US were shut-down or that would get more money if the US started up 3x as many power-nukes.

In other words, someone is confusing "money spent on related activity" with "subsidy for activity". They can be, and in this case are, different.
6.7.2006 10:15pm
Freder Frederson (mail):
Nukes NOW! Prevent local meddling and obstruction, and work on dealing with the watermelons as they would deal with us!

So what should we call all you pro-nuke libertarians? Apparently the only big government and socialism you like is when it is supporting nuclear power. Then all the things you libertarians hold dear go out the window. The government should be able to compel people to have nuclear power plants wherever industry wants to put them.

Nuclear energy has never lived up to its promise. It is an awful expensive and complicated way to boil water. We need to forget about this old technology and spend our energy research dollars on more promising technolgies that break away from the central generating plant model we have used for the last 100 odd years.
6.7.2006 11:09pm
dweeb:
Without this massive government investment in the industrial infrastructure to produce nuclear fuel, there would be no market for nuclear fuel, because none would be produced

And which socialist crystal ball told you THAT? If the government could be satisfied on the security issues, and got out of the business, then the contractors currently running the government facilities would step right in. If there's demand, someone will meet it. Also, you never asserted that the government fuel was sold at artificially lower prices - a requirement for it to be a subsidy.

While the government maintains research labs of many types, the amount DOE spends on the National Lab system, whose mission is specifically nuclear research, is out of all proportion to the contribution that nuclear energy is to nation's energy mix.

The DOE spending on nuclear power research is dwarfed by federal spending on all the other commercially applicable technologies, from health care, to electronics, to logistics, etc. Most university research is done via government grants. If the commercial nuclear power industry has benefitted from so much government subsidy, how come there are no domestic reactor manufacturers, and the first domestic plant approved in 20 years will be built by a Japanese company?

Indeed, the Navy does need operators for its nuclear powered ships and submarines. But that does not negate the fact that once they have finished their six year commitment they are qualified and ready to run a nuclear reactor, saving the utility the cost of that very expensive training (and placing that burden directly on the government and the American people).

How is training in the military different from training at a university that gets research grants and where most students are on government financial aid? You can get a degree in nuclear engineering at many universities (and even get it paid for with Pell grants) but you'll find you'll be working alongside former Navy guys who make the same pay as you do. Those trained in the military pay for it with a service commitment at sub-market wages, and once they get out, they command the same or better pay as privately trained colleagues. People trained by the military are found in many vocations, and military training does not condemn one to substandard compensation. Thus, all the benefits of military training are captured by the trainee, who pays for it with a service obligation. Military training would only be a subsidy to the industry if those trained by the military commanded lower salaries than those trained privately, which is not the case.
6.8.2006 10:41am
dweeb:
When they opened a plant in Perry, OH, all the local leftists came out protesting it. Of course, they weren't willing to give up the benefit of the electicity, they just preferred the status quo of shifting the risks associated with producing it to some poor semi-literate in West Virginia, who will die of black lung before he's 50, or in a mine accident at 25, in order to feed their need for energy. The irony is, liberals claim to stand for the little guy, like that coal miner in W.Va. When it comes down to it, though, they have no problem with some "prole" risking life and health to maintain their bourgeois urban lives.
6.8.2006 10:55am
dweeb:
When they opened a plant in Perry, OH, all the local leftists came out protesting it. Of course, they weren't willing to give up the benefit of the electicity, they just preferred the status quo of shifting the risks associated with producing it to some poor semi-literate in West Virginia, who will die of black lung before he's 50, or in a mine accident at 25, in order to feed their need for energy. The irony is, liberals claim to stand for the little guy, like that coal miner in W.Va. When it comes down to it, though, they have no problem with some "prole" risking life and health to maintain their bourgeois urban lives.
6.8.2006 10:55am
Broncos:

So what should we call all you pro-nuke libertarians? Apparently the only big government and socialism you like is when it is supporting nuclear power. Then all the things you libertarians hold dear go out the window. The government should be able to compel people to have nuclear power plants wherever industry wants to put them.


Ok, here's a deal: We'll do away with the subsidies, for all forms of energy supply and demand (conservation and efficiency); if you'll do away with all forms of regulatory restrictions that limit the above. Of course, that'll lead to (further) massive increases in coal and natural gas; but who cares when you're backing the self-righteous choir with a one-note symphony?

It's inane to insist that nuclear plants primarily displace renewables.
6.8.2006 11:36am
Broncos:
There are times that I wish the Carter administration invented nuclear power.
6.8.2006 11:42am
Freder Frederson (mail):
Of course, they weren't willing to give up the benefit of the electicity, they just preferred the status quo of shifting the risks associated with producing it to some poor semi-literate in West Virginia, who will die of black lung before he's 50, or in a mine accident at 25

You do realize that uranium is mined too, don't you? And that uranium, leaving aside the radiation issues, is one of the most toxic elements known to man? And that the rate of cancer, especially lung cancers, among uranium miners and workers, is very high.

And of course the best way to protect the health and safety of all workers, miners especially, is through strong union representation. So don't pretend you are concerned about workers when I know you are hostile to the concept of strong unions and state outright that you want to eliminate all "regulatory restrictions", which I assume includes those that protect workers' health and safety. And of course the end of "regulatory restrictions" would mean the end of pollution controls on coal fired plants which would make them extremely cheap to run and all kinds of coal that is simply too dirty to burn suddenly available.
6.8.2006 2:03pm
Freder Frederson (mail):
You can get a degree in nuclear engineering at many universities (and even get it paid for with Pell grants) but you'll find you'll be working alongside former Navy guys who make the same pay as you do. Those trained in the military pay for it with a service commitment at sub-market wages, and once they get out, they command the same or better pay as privately trained colleagues.

I was referring specifically to plant operators, a skilled trade, not a professional position that requires a college degree. The Navy has a program for enlisted sailors that requires a six year commitment. The first two years are training in operating the reactor, then four years duty on a submarine or Nuclear powered surface ship. Then you are free to leave and pursue a career as a commercial plant operator. It is where industry gets most of its plant operators and saves them the cost of the very expensive training.

Also, you never asserted that the government fuel was sold at artificially lower prices - a requirement for it to be a subsidy.

Well, it's hard to say what a fair market price would be when there is no way to set fair market price. The true "cost" of nuclear fuel would necessarily amortizing the cost of the enrichment equipment and the sixty plus years of R &D to get to the level of efficiency we are at today . But these costs have already been covered by the governments that invested in the infrastructure to produce the fuel and
weapons grade materials we have today. It would be impossible for a company to start from "scratch" and expect to be competitive when even the nominally independent companies have such a huge head start (they began life with billions of dollars worth of infrastructure and R &D and know how that they got for free or at worst, pennies on the dollar--plus no liability for all the environmental problems of their government entity predecessors).

Just adding a reasonable fee to a fuel rod for legacy cleanup costs at DOE facilities would make nuclear power prohibitively expensive (just imagine the cost if such a cleanup fee were added to the cost of Russian produced nuclear fuel).
6.8.2006 2:23pm
Cousin Dave (mail):
"And that uranium, leaving aside the radiation issues, is one of the most toxic elements known to man?"

Oh puuullezze. I don't know how this rumor got started. Although the biochemical effects are difficult to separate from the radiological effects, most sources indicate that uranium's toxicity is probably similar to lead. It's not something you want to sprinkle on your cereal every day, but it's not nearly as toxic as, say, arsenic. Do a Google on "uranium toxicity" and see what comes up.
6.8.2006 7:41pm
Andy Freeman (mail):
Ah, so Frederson believes that he can recover sunk costs, that there's some virtue in ignoring the technology produced by said sunk costs, or that if he can't recover sunk costs, he should ignore the tech.

We've spent the money and we have the technology. The question is what should we do NOW because we can't unspend the money. Why should we ignore the technology?
6.9.2006 1:10am
Freder Frederson (mail):
Ah, so Frederson believes that he can recover sunk costs, that there's some virtue in ignoring the technology produced by said sunk costs, or that if he can't recover sunk costs, he should ignore the tech.

Actually, the costs aren't sunk, because the cleanup of the DOE facilities continues and, if at can even be accomplished, will probably top $100 billion (God knows what cleaning up the mess in Russia will eventually cost, even discounting Chernobyl). And the initial contention was that nuclear fuel could be produced in a commercially competetive manner. I was merely pointing out that this was an absurd assertion since you could never account for the true costs of nuclear fuel as in effect the nuclear powers have given the now-private manufacturers of nuclear fuel a multi-billion (certainly in the hundreds of billions of dollars) leg up on any potential competition.

Oh puuullezze. I don't know how this rumor got started. Although the biochemical effects are difficult to separate from the radiological effects, most sources indicate that uranium's toxicity is probably similar to lead.

I don't know what bizarro world you live in where lead is a benign metal that isn't toxic, but in case you haven't noticed, we have spent the last forty years in this country eliminating it from almost everything we use. You're right though, Uranium is almost chemically identically to lead. Now if you think having radioactive lead collect in your bones and soft tissues and undergo alpha and beta decay is benign, then more power to you.
6.9.2006 12:34pm