Jun 8 2012

Just an FYI – If you live near a coal plant, you are exposed to a higher dose of radiation than if you lived near a nuclear plant

I find it interesting when people spout talking points with no analysis on their own part.  They rail against nuclear power, yet have no practical alternative solutions.  The politicians respond by preventing new plants from being developed (even thorium), and the coal industry ramps up and causes massive environmental damage in coal-rich areas.  I found an interesting quote from the free e-book Sustainable Energy – Without the Hot Air by David JC Mackay (via reddit user jahjaylee) that you get more radiation from coal-fired plants, than from nuclear plants:


“Coal power stations, for example, expose the public to nuclear radiation, because coal ash typically contains uranium. Indeed, according to a paper published in the journal Science, people in America living near coal-fired power station are exposed to higher radiation doses than those living near nuclear power plants.”


The data comes from an old, but valid study from a 1978 article in Science Magazine. Now, it may be true that newer coal-fired plants produce much cleaner by-products, but at the time, coal-fired plants spewed out more than 1000 times the radiation than a nuclear plant of the same power.  This is significant, and I would be interested to know how much better today’s coal-fired plants rank on the radiation scale.

Jun 8 2012

Japan unable to run country without Nuclear Power

Following Japan’s 2011 Earthquake and Tsunami, The Fukushima reactor was shut down, followed by a shut down of all nuclear reactors.  These reactors supplied 30% of the power to the country of Japan, and the country has had to make up the difference by burning more fossil fuels and implementing a nationwide conservation effort.  Even with these measures, it seems that the country still cannot function without additional power – and there is no other solution right now – other than to bring some reactors online.   According the Japanese PM, it a matter of survival.  This puts a fine point on what I have been saying – Ounce for ounce, nuclear energy produced more power than anything else on the planet.  What we need is a slow, 100-year transition plan to get away from nuclear, but we may actually have to build a few more in the mean time until we can find a better solution.