I’ve never understood why we don’t have more nuclear power

Nuclear power vs. global warming vs. the environment: Whether civilization survives

Frank Warner notes that China is preparing to build up nuclear power production and that in many ways the environment would benefit from additional nuclear power and decreased reliance of fossil-fueled power plants.

I’ve never understood why we don’t have significantly more (like, say, ten times as much) nuclear power production in the US. I mean, I know why. But why have those arguments carried the day?

The biggest downside, of course, is the potential for errors that include mushroom clouds. While I’m all for de-regulating the electricity MARKET, I’m not so gung-ho about de-regulating safety at power plants. And this goes double (triple?) at nuclear power plants.

Frank writes

France gets about 78 percent of its electricity from nuclear plants. France also has been keen on demanding all other industrialized nations cut back on burning fossil fuels. Here’s why, I guess. While every other free nation was freezing nuclear power levels, the French were busy replacing coal and oil with the atom.

This is another thing about our lack of nuclear power production that’s always mystified me. So many liberal-types are constantly trying to make the US into Europe but they don’t want anything to do with nuclear power.


  1. Murdoc, A few tangential comments: 1) This is why it would be nice to get fusion power working. Think cleaner, safer nuclear power. (Notice I did NOT say clean, safe . . . but cleanER, safER.) 2) Pebble bed nuclear reactors have the potential to make nuclear power much safer and simpler. A federally subsidized development program could easily get pebble bed development moving. 3) Why are the dems fighting Yucca Mountain. We gotta put the stuff SOMEWHERE! (and I’m a dem…)

  2. Chuck: 1) Yes to fusion. We should all have a Mr. Fusion in our basement. 2) I don’t really know the first thing about these pebble bed reactors. I’ll have to look into them. And I’ll totally support a subsidy if it looks like it could make a real difference. 3)Who knows? I know that the stuff is total muck, though. I realize that just slapping up 50 more reactors would create real issues, of course.

  3. Completely coincidentally, there is an article on ft.com (Financial Times) that the Chinese are going to develop a pebble-bed reactor. Short summary of pebble bed reactors: Uranium fuel is encased in graphite spheres. The shells of the spheres are thick enough that the uranium can’t get close enough together to ‘go critical’ and melt down — but can get close enough together to achieve chain reaction and get very hot. The reactor core is in the shape of a hopper. That way, the spheres can be let out the bottom one-by-one to be inspected for damage, replaced if damaged (or used up), and the hopper reloaded from the top. Relative to fuel rods, individual pebbles are much safer to handle and dispose of, since they are smaller (less radiation) and already encased. The only danger (not trivial) is fire . . . graphite burns nicely at the temperatures we’re talking about, so the reactor is cooled by inert helium gas. Oh, another nice feature of pebble beds is that they can be efficient at much smaller sizes than traditional reactors.

  4. I think the core issue with nuclear power (or more accurately the lack thereof) is it’s been demonized by the left; due to a ‘group think’ tendency that’s been exacerbated by hysterical nannyism. Sure there are plenty of drawbacks to nuclear power plants, just as there are with fossil fuel power production, fossil fueled cars, logging, steel production etc. Rigorous management of the industry & the financial viability of nuclear power plants (unfettered by all the crap lawsuits from the left) would bring about technology and SAFETY advances to bring this power production method into the prominance it SHOULD have had all along. Excellent questions and points, guys!

  5. Only liberals sue? I don’t think that’s true. There are huge lawsuits in Nevada about Yucca Mountain. And Nevada is a red state. The world is a more complicated place then you think it is, Flanker. Unfortunately, you share that shortcoming with our president.

  6. I don’t think that was his point Chuck, but then again, I could be wrong. The point is, the ‘tree-hugger’ or ‘green’ movements sue every time someone wants to put in any kind of power plant. The gov’t researched one that worked off wave power. All of a sudden, every body is worried about seal habitat. This thing is 50 yards wide, and they want to put one every 4 miles. That’s 150 feet of beach out of 21,120. You can’t tell me the seals wouldn’t be happy with the other 21,000 feet. It was a totally clean energy source, that we can’t use because a bunch of ‘greens’ say ‘it’s not natural, it’ll harm mother earth’. Let’s see how they like it when there’s not enough energy produced to run their freakin’ I-pods. Pebble bed reactors are much more stable, and produce much less radioactive byproducts than any feasible means available right now. We can’t even put up a test reactor due to the environmentalist movement raising such a stink. Three mile island, and Chernyobal(sp?) were older technology reactors that were generations behind current technologies. Pebble bed technology, and hopefully soon, fusion technology would eliminate our current power woes, and allow us to ‘ramp up’ for the future.