Friday, July 18, 2008

Nothing to Worry About.

Areva employee in hazmat suit: Do we look like we're worried about radioactivity?

Areva's having a bit of a PR nightmare in France lately due to a couple of accidents in the last week: Tricastin and Romans-sur-Isère. Both were leaks that polluted local rivers, and both were considered to have negligable impact on the environment (though what "negligible" actually means is open for discussion).

Of course, two leaks in a week at two plants operated by the same company that runs something like 40 centrals in France, is the largest nuclear supplier in the US and that is expanding operations to the Middle East and China is causing a bit of soul-searching and even questioning of the party line regarding the 'clean, green, renewable' energy source in the Hexagon. As well it should.

I hear a lot of American pundits-types talk about how we should go nuclear using France as the model of how things should be done. Now, I'm not anti this by any stretch. However, I do think that such decisions do require a fair bit of looking before leaping. What would be the cost/benefit comparisons between starting from scratch with nuclear and improving coal plants? What advantages does nuclear have over wind, for example (don't laugh; wind power is harnessed as well in France and is quite competetive with other sources), what are the operational costs (including down time) for a the typical Coal/Nuclear/etc delivery method?

It would also be good to check out data provided by sources other than the French monopoly, too.

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