The state that spawned a generation of activists committed to shutting down nuclear reactors and crippling the industry has lately become a hotbed of advocacy and financial support for fighting global warming with, of all things, nuclear power.
Encouraged by the Obama administration, notable California innovators and financiers are looking to reinvent the industry in the mold of wind and solar power. They are betting on prototype technologies that seek to replace the hulking plants of today with smaller, nimbler units. Environmentally minded nuclear engineers argue that they can be designed so safely that they might be "huggable." They talk of power plants that consume nuclear waste instead of creating it.
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I worked in the nuclear industry for nearly 25 years, I was certified as a Senior Reactor Operator, and I have a MSc degree in nuclear waste disposal. Here are some of the reasons why I believe nuclear power should NEVER be resurrected in the US, or anywhere else:
*Commercial power reactors are now used to make tritium for nuclear weapons. Cut off the tritium supply, and the danger from nuclear weapons will be greatly diminished.
*The fissioning of uranium creates plutonium which can be used to make nuclear bombs. The world does not need any more plutonium.
*The radioactive waste from the nuclear industry will poison this planet forever. We have no working plan to deal with it over the long term. No nuclear plant is going to "consume" it as is suggested in the above report.
*The disaster at Fukushima is nearly an extinction level event which is still unfolding. This planet cannot afford another one of those.
*Nuclear plants are not designed to be safe, they're defined to be safe. And the definition of safety is different for nearly every plant, which suggests they really are not safe at all.
*At nearly every nuclear plant where I worked, making or saving money appeared to have a higher priority than safety.
*Although they supposedly are protected by federal law, every major whistle blower in the industry has been fired and/or blackballed.