back to article British warming to NUKES after Fukushima meltdown

Despite the massive and often neurotically inaccurate Western media coverage of the Fukushima nuclear accident, British public confidence in nuclear power has increased. In a poll by Populus for the British Science Association, 41 per cent of respondents said the benefits of nuclear power outweighed the risks – up 3 per cent. …


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  1. Ru

    Greens... seem to have lost their Kryptonite

    I don't think this is really true, but it doesn't seem to matter much either way.

    Their principle strength these days seems to be pushing governments to make questionable economic decisions, and that particular trick doesn't seem to be wearing out just yet.

    1. schnide


      "So it may be back to the drawing board for Greens, who seem to have lost their Kryptonite: the ability to steer people towards policy goals by scaring them witless."

      Because that's only the Greens that do that isn't it? Typical anti-Green bias. Let's keep consuming the planet people. It'll last forever. Or at least longer than we will, so that's alright isn't it?

      1. Ralthor

        Limited resources

        erm... and when are we predicting the end of our supplies of coal and oil? What are the greens going to say when all we have nothing but nuclear left? Unless someone develops another usable power supply, and unreproducable cold fusion doesnt count, then nuclear would seem to be the only current viable option. now is the time to be planning for when the oil wells run dry. Not when the last drop has been burnt.

        Flame icon because thats what we are doing with the planet. If the greens truely loved the planet they should be in favour of nuclear power.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          So wrong

          "If the greens truely loved the planet they should be in favour of nuclear power."

          No, absolutely not. What pro-nuclear knuckleheads can't get through their thick skulls is that nuclear causes pollution that is both more dangerous and more persistent than burning coal does. With modern scrubbing systems the only pollutant coal releases in any significant amount is CO2, which is probably the least persistant pollutant in existance (just plant trees around the power plant). Fission, on the other hand, produces depleted uranium, which retains it's ability to cause cancer and radiation poisoning for thousands of years and, unlike CO2, can not be easily processed into anything remotely useful. Plus uranium is every bit as finite as any fossil fuel. If we switch to it our grandchildren or great grandchildren will be in the same boat we are now. It'll be gone by the time our great great grandchildren are running the world.

          No sir, people who truly care about this planet want to improve the tech behind solar, wind, and hydro power to make it reliable enough to depend upon, not support another filthy, non-renewable technology like nuclear.

          1. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward


            You're an idiot, coal power pumps out more radiation than nuclear accidents have.

            1. rciafardone


              And there is more gold dissolved in the sea water than in fort Knox... is a matter of density, water has probably killed more people that all wars combined... lets ban that :D.

              Nuclear power is a dead end just like oil, and incredibly scarce and messy to boot. Wind is unreliable. A Solar/hydrogen system is the best bet. Use solar energy to produce hydrogen and accumulate it then, use it as fuel. This eliminates the variability factor once stock of hydrogen have been filled. Plus we are not even close to the max amount of energy we can get for every cm2 of panel.

          2. amanfromearth

            even more wrong

            CO2 is not a pollutant. It's vital for all life on this planet.

            If you don't understand that, look up "food chain"

          3. Daniel B.

            Not that wrong though.

            We're stuck with wasted fuel rods because we aren't reprocessing 'em. Anyway, nuclear/fission is really intended as a stopgap measure; the one thing that will actually give us unlimited power is fusion. Nuclear will last long enough for fusion to be viable... but the same idiots mindlessly campaigning against nuclear are also going against Fusion. Even though Fusion is actually *safe*.

          4. TerryAcky

            @Ac 'So Wrong'

            "What pro-nuclear knuckleheads can't get through their thick skulls is nuclear causes pollution that is both more dangerous..." Blah, blah, yackety-smackety... I worked around radioactive sources for about 8 years in the 80's/90's and I ain't glowing yet :)

            Here's my view: What anti-nuclear dimwits can't get through their thick skulls is that nuclear does not necessarily equate to fission alone. All this bull**** about wind fams... Pah. Nuclear is the only viable, realistic answer... Fission short term, fusion long term.

            Me? I'm the one with hydrogen fuel pellets in my pocket. You can keep your fart farms ta very much :)

          5. Veldan

            So very very wrong...

            Coal plants produce HEAPS of toxic waste. Sure, we catch most it and bury it somewhere but have you ever wondered how long these products last?

            How long is mercury poisonous for? That's right, FOREVER!

            How long are these isotopes a problem for? A few thousand years (less with correct reuse and management).

            Seems like one is definitely better for our long term outlook...

            1. Andydaws

              The radiation and radioisotope numbers for coal stations are the scary thing.

              Think on this - Drax - 4,000MW of coal-fired power, burns about 36,000 tonnes of coal per day (that's right, per day) at full power.

              That's 13.1 million tonnes per year.

              Coal typically has a uranium content of between 5 and 20 ppm. If we take 10 ppm as a resoanable mid-point, that's dumping around 130 tonnes/year into the environment, in fly-ash. That's not all, of course, because there's also a similar thorium content, and also the whole chain of decay products from that uranium - some of which is notably nasty, like radon.

              If you assume a 50 year operating life, that's about 6,500 tonnes of uranium alone - dumped unconstrained into the environment.

              For comparison, the total uranium content of the three damaged cores at Fukushima is about 3,000 tonnes - and there's no evidence at all of anything other than trace amounts of that having migrated out of the reactor buildings.

          6. elderlybloke

            So Wrong

            Dear Anonymous Coward,

            The screaming greenies here i n New Zealand are opposed to Hydro generated power.

            The reason for opposing one Hydro scream was that some obscure snail lived in the area where the dam was to be built.

            Then there is the catastrophic scenario of dams causing earthquakes, sure but bloody small ones.

            Can you answer a simple question - How many Japanese have died or been given more than the acceptable radiation exposure from the Fukushima plant?

          7. JadedIdealist

            Just plant trees WTF?

            >(just plant trees around the power plant)

            WTF, have you any idea how much CO2 a power plant like DRAX pumps out per second?

            or how many Wales of forest it would take to offset it?

            1. Andydaws

              if you want the numbers, it's about 22 million tonnes of CO2/yr.

              So, about 2/3rds of a tonne per second.

              Apparently, a good commercial forestry produces about 18 tonnes of wood per hectare/year. If we assume half the weight of that is carbon (quite a lot is water), let's call it ten tonnes/hectare/year

              So, to offset Drax we need about 2.2 million hectares. Wales is about 2 million hectares - so, about 1.1 Wales-worths (that's assuming we could plant the whole of Wales, that is - I gather there are a few mountains, etc. that might not be too good.

              Actually, what is interesting is, Drax typically produces about 5% of our electricity demand on average. Coal overall is about 40%. So, we need about 8 Wales-worths just of offset current CO2 production from coal alone. What'd be about 17.6 million hectares.

              The total land area of the UK, including Scotland, and Northern Ireland, as well as England and Wales is about 17.8 million hectares.

          8. Dave 15 Silver badge

            Current wind/solar technology

            Takes more energy to create than it ever produces...

            Not a good idea.

    2. BenR

      There's a bigger problem

      Which is that almost anything that gets proposed gets shot down for a variety of reasons.

      Coal is too dirty.

      Nuclear means we'll all glow in the dark.

      Hydro means that birds will have to fly somewhere else.

      Wind minces birds and causes localised climate change downwind.

      Solar takes up too much space.

      On and on it goes - every proposal being cut out by one special interest group or another for endless reason after stupid reason, resulting in nothing more than an absolute stalemate which leaves us with the status quo and no idea how to move forwards.

      The truly depressing thing is that even if you were to ask a Green-ist what we should be doing, there isn't a consensus there either, and we'd be subjected to round after round of arguments extolling the virtues of one thing (wind) over another (solar).

      The sad truth is that there is not, and will almost certainly never be, a single catch-all solution. We have to make the best of a bad job, and try to make things as efficient as possible to use as little resource as possible, while doing what we can to maintain the way of life that we are all accustomed to.

      As with all things, a little from column A and a little from column B is likely to be the optimum solution. Mix'n'match and do what we can.

  2. TrishaD

    "Interestingly there is a gender gap opening up – with women much more fearful of nuclear energy, and men increasingly supporting it. What does that tell us?"

    That women are more sensible than men?

    1. HP Cynic

      I'd say the opposite since until we can efficiently tap "renewable" sources we either get on with using Fission, make progress with Fusion or we carry on using up the dwindling supplies of oil, coal, gas etc.

      Humanity will find a way but acting like nuclear luddites is not likely to be the best way.

    2. Gordon 10 Silver badge

      Or perhaps Men are more rational than women, and more able to objectively weigh risks?

      Or perhaps the opinions of individual commentards such as you and myself are overly simplistic?

      1. Mark 65

        Or perhaps men pay the electricity bill and just don't want to see it quadruple so want nuclear given, as stated, it's cheaper than the alternatives.

    3. Armando 123

      Or that men are doing the housework these days and coal dust just makes it a NIGHTmare, luv.

    4. Graham Wilson

      @TrishaD -- Thumbs Rule!

      Thumbs indicate the sex ratio of El Reg readers, methinks.


    5. Captain Thyratron

      You are making a common mistake.

      The thing about fear is that it's an impulsive shortcut around sense that we evolved back when we weren't smart enough to solve problems with our minds fast enough.

      Decisions guided by fear are hasty and emotionally charged. They are, in general, not rational decisions, and you are unlikely to question them. They are quick, impulsive decisions from the part of your brain that tells you to run from scary things that might eat you.

      Hence, when you think with fear, you reduce your powers of reasoning to a prehistoric level. This is no good for running a civilization.

      1. Nanki Poo

        @Captain Thingytron

        Or maybe men act in more reactive and alpha ways, and bang their club against anything they don't understand...?


    6. Scorchio!!

      Sense and sensibilia

      ""Interestingly there is a gender gap opening up – with women much more fearful of nuclear energy, and men increasingly supporting it. What does that tell us?"

      That women are more sensible than men?"

      In respect of the insane babble from below, I was working with female sex offenders before it was published. Of late more evidence has been uncovered on female sexual abuse, female domestic violence including murder, female stalkers, female offenders in general and, given that the truth is the possession of no individual, institution or group of individuals and no individual or group of individuals is dispossessed of the truth on the non sequitur say of a twit, I'd say that you look rather silly.

      "It cannot be assumed that men are bound to be an asset to family life, or that the presence of fathers in families is necessarily a means to social harmony and cohesion"

      The Family Way: A New Approach to Policy Making, Anna Coote, Harriet Harman, Patricia Hewitt Social Policy Paper no. 1. Institute for Public Policy Research: London 1990 ISBN 1872452 15 9

      "But if we want fathers to play a full role in their children's lives, ...then we need to bring men into the playgroups and nurseries and the schools. And here, of course, we hit the immediate difficulty of whether we can trust men with children. ...Unfortunately, the experience of many of those working with children is that the men who abuse often seek out jobs with children. So we need safeguards. ... Distasteful though it may seem, it may well be necessary to follow the practice already established in some of the schools of not leaving men on their own with groups of children." (1993b, pp. 24-7)

      Hewitt quoted in Dench, (1996) Transforming Men: Changing Patterns of Dependency and Dominance in Gender Relations, Transaction Publishers

      1. Dave 15 Silver badge

        The family way

        What a pile of obvious drivel... no wonder the policies that spouted from this were some harmful and divisive. As a male in the UK I won't go anywhere near anything to do with kids here anymore just because I don't want people automatically labelling me as a pervert. One of the many reasons to be leaving this country at the end of the month. (and no, I have no idea why I didn't leave much earlier, there really is nothing left in Britain to recommend it at all).

    7. Dave 15 Silver badge

      women are more blond than men?

      Ducking my girlfriend for the momeny I would suggest that a suggestion that women are more sensible than men can be refuted with ease....

  3. Davidoff

    Joe Average and his opinion

    "What the poll certainly indicates is that people are more rational than scaremongers suggest – and perfectly capable of performing risk analysis, weighing up the costs and benefits of a technology."

    @ the author: if you really think that average people who for most part neither possess the required knowledge nor have all the information that is required for a valid risk analysis then you're delusional. What Joe Average 'knows' comes from the media (means: you) which gladly reproduce what is spoon-fed by them by the lobbying industry like to a parrot.

    Like with all more complex topics, the general public as such has no f***ing clue. People vote for representatives which act against their interests, and often can't even keep their own computer malware-free. And now you want to tell us they suddenly have become experts in nuclear power generation?

    1. Andrew Orlowski (Written by Reg staff)

      Re: Joe Average and his opinion

      "What Joe Average 'knows' comes from the media (means: you) which gladly reproduce what is spoon-fed by them by the lobbying industry like to a parrot."

      That isn't true any more. The genie is out of the bottle.

      1. Scorchio!!

        Re: Re: Joe Average and his opinion

        ""What Joe Average 'knows' comes from the media (means: you) which gladly reproduce what is spoon-fed by them by the lobbying industry like to a parrot."

        That isn't true any more. The genie is out of the bottle."

        I recommend that the nay sayers read Fred Hoyle's "Energy or Extinction?: Case for Nuclear Energy" (There is an informative review here: ). Granted recent developments in, e.g., solar and wind power collection devices have changed the picture slightly, but his well thought out calculations and arguments remain sound. We face a catastrophic energy shortage, at the very same time that we have reproduced too much and show little sign of slowing down. Add to that ToniBler's policy of clandestine immigration and slack border controls, which increased our population by some 7.27% to a horrifying 61.5 million population, food shortages (as with energy we are not self sufficient in this department) and the upcoming phosphate shortage and the recipe is for worse strife than ever seen.

      2. nyelvmark

        The genie is out of the bottle.

        I presume you can show us pics of said Genie. Otherwise... well, you know.

        My upvote goes to Davidoff. Sorry.

    2. nichomach
      Thumb Up

      A good point well-made, especially in these fora - normally The Reg is highly sceptical of the "wisdom of crowds", their ongoing dismissal of Wikifiddlers being a prime example. Perhaps there's a little confirmation bias creeping in - crowd wisdom is fine as long as it's a crowd we agree with?

      1. Scorchio!!

        "Perhaps there's a little confirmation bias creeping in - crowd wisdom is fine as long as it's a crowd we agree with?"

        Aka sample bias, in the humanities, hence my earlier reference to Fred Hoyle's book "Energy or Extinction?: The case for Nuclear Energy". What matters is the truth, not some assessment of the culturally relative truths of crowd data. The truth is that alternatives do not cut it, coal destroyed Scandinavian forests causing the so-called 'dash for gas' which is now running out. Fusion is still on an ever moving horizon. To paraphrase Hoyle, there is no time.

    3. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      >which gladly reproduce what is spoon-fed by them by the lobbying industry like to a parrot.

      Very true.

      But why do you conveniently forget the other side of the coin, the so-called "independent" organizations that use exactly the same mechanisms to put their views forward to their captive audiences?

    4. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      RE: Joe Average and his opinion

      Well said.

      In a recent poll carried out by the London Science Museum, we Brits also rated having an Internet connection more vital than having clean drinking water and Facebook more vital than a flushing toilet. So, polls mean nothing.

      Germany have the right idea.

      1. gabor1

        Well, if I don't have clean drinking water, but I have access to the Internet, it wouldn't be so hard to track down some filtration equipment. I'm sure they are twelve a dozen on ebay.

        The average visitor to the LSM doesn't even know what not having clean drinking water is like. They probably think that it's OK, you just buy the bottled stuff from Sainsbury's. The question is really misleading, because of the hidden implications. In a society which cannot provide clean drinking water, your biggest problem will not be the lack of internet.

        It's like asking what is more important to you: your shoes, or your <insert favourite smartphone>. I bet people would say their phone, because they can't even conceive of a situation in which they don't have a shoe. If you take the question literally, i.e. choose between otherwise completely equivalent situations, one with a missing shoe and the other a missing phone. Obviously, my shoe is £30, my phone is £300. But choose between being a tramp on the street without even a shoe, and a middle class couch potato who just about cannot afford a £300 phone, obviously the latter...


      2. mark 63 Silver badge

        Facebook more vital than a flushing toilet

        I dispair. I really do.

        1. Scorchio!!

          Re: Facebook more vital than a flushing toilet

          "I dispair. I really do."

          I need insecure web facilities like I need a hole in the head. I killed FB off years ago and will not go back there again, ever.

      3. mark 63 Silver badge

        cant live without.survey

        my top 3:



        3. shelter .

        4 heat/energy

        Everything else is a bonus,

        Here are the results of that survey

        34-bottled water ffs!

        note none of my top 3 are in there, exept token mention of food at 16 & 21

        I guess for this to mean anything you have to know the context, or way the questions were asked . Which they arnt really saying

        1. Sunshine 2. Internet connection 3. Clean drinking water 4. Fridge

        5. Facebook 6. NHS 7. Cooker 8. Email 9. Flushing toilet 10. Mobile phone / smartphone 11. Tea and Coffee 12. Washing machine 13. Shower 14. Central heating 15. Painkillers 16. Fresh vegetables 17. Vacuum Cleaner 18. Kettle 19. Sofa 20. Shoes 21. Fresh fruit 22. Google 23. Car 24. Hair straighteners 25. Public transport 26. Laptop 27. Chocolate 28. DVD Player 29. Wristwatch 30. Make-up 31. Flat screen TV 32. Wedding ring 33. Tumble dryer 34. Bottled water 35. Ebay

        36. Bicycle 37. Ipod 38. Air conditioning 39. Disposable nappies

        40. Light bulbs 41. Spell-check 42. Sat Nav 43. Push-up bra 44. Nintendo Wii 45. iPad 46. Gym Membership 47. Season ticket to your football club 48. Freezer 49. Xbox 50. Twitter

        Read more:

        1. Dave 15 Silver badge

          Ah, The Daily Mail ... explains everything

          I guess at least their readership can read - makes them mildly better than The Suns 'readership'... Although The Sun has a prettier page 3 than The Mail

      4. Dave 15 Silver badge

        Germany has the right idea?

        On this one issue no, it clearly doesn't.

        As to relying on the intelligence of the Brits then clearly you can't - they are uneducated, mindless gulible idiots almost entirely to a man woman and child.

  4. hugo tyson

    Bogus sexist generalisation - do not read

    Women think nuclear causes odd-shaped babies, which really really worries them; men don't care about babies of any kind so much? All sweeping generalisations are rubbish, I know.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Alternatively men are more easily swayed by alpha-male-ish articles aggressively mocking people who do not believe the right thing and praising those who express the 'correct' opinion as thoughtful and intelligent.

      1. Aaron Em

        In which case

        you'd really think men would be more strongly against nuclear than women are -- have you *spent* any time reading greenie's opinion of nuclear power, and of people who argue in its favor?

        Also, "alpha-male-ish"? Third time this week that shit's cropped up. Am I going to have to be hearing pick-up artist lingo from saddos for the next twenty years of my goddamned life?

        1. Nanki Poo


          sorry, I think I just did it a fourth on a response above... I truly am sorry... ;)


      2. Captain Thyratron

        Alternatively alternatively

        Nah. Women are just encouraged to have a different style about it.

      3. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Surely if it's Nuclear power

        then it'd be alpha, beta and gamma male? With Cherenkov aftershave?

  5. Riscyrich

    "Interestingly there is a gender gap opening up – with women much more fearful of nuclear energy, and men increasingly supporting it. What does that tell us?"

    As you stated "This is hard to imagine happening without the internet as a source of information.", perhaps its the way in which men and women use the internet that sets us apart?

    Quick search pulled up this:-

  6. CADmonkey

    "Chicken Little moment"


    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

    2. Old Tom
    3. Gordon 10 Silver badge

      Chicken little was afaik an american creation who ran around claiming the sky was falling in.

      1. nyelvmark

        >> Chicken little was afaik an american creation who ran around claiming the sky was falling in.

        You mean Al Gore?

  7. Volker Hett

    What is interesting

    there are only some 37 nuclear powerplants under construction at the moment. Worldwide nuclear power is close to negligible and that with a nuclear powerplant earning one million Euros A DAY! At least as far as I've been told.

    1. itzman

      I am confused

      Since man made nuclear power accounts for 18% of electricity generation worldwide.

      And the Iranian reactor is finally online this week.

  8. Jolyon


    "What the poll certainly indicates is that people are more rational than scaremongers suggest – and perfectly capable of performing risk analysis, weighing up the costs and benefits of a technology. "


    How irrational do these scaremongers suggest 'people' are?

    And how does this show people are more rational than that?

    And how do you know that this 41% minority is performing risk analysis? Is everyone who agrees with you (and me, as it happens) automatically and retrospectively brilliant?

    "It's a striking contrast to Germany, where politicians bowed to the "Green" fringe "

    It might be a stark contrast to Germany but we don't know because if there has been a similar poll there it isn't referenced.

    There'd only be a stark contrast to what you say if our govt. determinedly rejects the Green "fringe" (not that painting this as a sensible, car driving, Top Gear types against sandal eating Greens is either helpful or accurate) and builds more nuke plants.

    This is a silly, biased, patronising analysis and doesn't advance the cause of nuclear power one inch. The original Guardian article is better

    1. Anonymous Coward

      Seconded. Writing bad articles is only going to do harm.

      I'm starting to suspect Andy is actually a covert greenpeace member trying to carefully put everybody off nuclear power..

    2. Andrew Orlowski (Written by Reg staff)

      Re: Shoddy

      Only a Guardian reader could think that "the original Guardian article" was actually the primary source for an opinion poll.

      The Graun did employ the comfort blanket of a "social psychologist" who interpreted the results for us - which is always helpful. And you can't get more patronising than that.

      1. Jolyon


        "Only a Guardian reader could think that "the original Guardian article" was actually the primary source for an opinion poll."

        I didn't think that - I guessed you might have been alerted to the poll by your colleague at the Guardian who wrote that article earlier in the day and thought mentioning it might, well ... I thought I'd mention it anyway and not just because it was better.

    3. David Pollard

      The cost of concrete and steel

      The comments to the Grauniad article include a pertinent reference to research at Berkeley into the costs in concrete and steel of nuclear generating plant, and a comparison with plant using wind, coal and gas. A mix of nuclear generation and gas turbines is the clear winner on the basis of material costs.

  9. Paul_Murphy

    "Interestingly there is a gender gap opening up – with women much more fearful of nuclear energy, and men increasingly supporting it. What does that tell us?"

    That men like big bangs, especially when they are happening to other people.

    That women don't bother trying to understand "all that technical stuff"

    That men like the cool things that cheap, reliable, energy can bring (ie TV football).

    That the statistics are wrong, or there were more women being asked than men (after all does 'more' equate to a higher percentage, or to a higher number?)

    And how is 'more fearful' measured?


    1. perlcat
      Paris Hilton


      "That men like big bangs, especially when they are happening to other people."

      No, men aren't afraid of banging certain things like a screen door in a hurricane.

      PH. Obvious reasons.

  10. Thomas 4

    It tells us

    That nuclear energy has a glowing future ahead of it.

  11. Rob Haswell

    Gender gap? Simples - because Xboxes need power to live.

  12. TonyHoyle

    Polls are a blunt instrument - am I worried that something built in the tail end of the 1950s might go boom? Yes.. Am I worried about anything build in the last 10 years doing so? Not really.

    Does that mean I'm 'against' or 'for'? Depending on how the poll was worded it could be either.

  13. Apocalypse Later

    Women, eh?

    "Interestingly there is a gender gap opening up – with women much more fearful of nuclear energy, and men increasingly supporting it."

    No need for them to worry their pretty little heads over it. This is alpha male territory. When the lights go out, they will turn to the men and say "please get the electricity back on, darling". I have actually had lesbians make this request of me (without the "darling", obviously).

    Alternate observation: no women is capable of understanding a thermostat. I have tried to teach many of them, and they always say they get it, in increasingly exasperated voices. But they don't get it. As the thermostat is one of the simpler technical devices in our lives, and almost certainly a component of any nuclear power plant, I think it is entirely fair to say that women do not and never will understand the technology involved. Hence the distrust.

    1. BrownishMonstr Bronze badge

      All women?

      I'll take that as a hyperbole.

    2. Nanki Poo

      @Apacolypse - -you forgot the troll icon

      If, <as a non-alpha gay man> I have to fix one more <insert>>car/oven/electrical ring main/fuse/etc/etc> for an alpha-hetero mate I should be awarded a medal.

      I even got called on holiday to be asked "the oven wont work, why?" "fuse?" "where's that?" "Fuse box, I don't know, I haven't been to your new house!!!!" :)

      At one point I started answering my phone "hello, Heterosexual Support Services...".


    3. Scorchio!!

      Re: Women, eh?

      "No need for them to worry their pretty little heads over it. This is alpha male territory. When the lights go out, they will turn to the men and say "please get the electricity back on, darling". I have actually had lesbians make this request of me (without the "darling", obviously)."

      Well someone has to fire up the vibrator Cap'n Kremmen! ;-)

  14. Bluenose
    Thumb Down

    Or it could be

    that most people are starting to recognize that the cost of electricity is going up due to the green taxes applied to it to further feather the nests of those who claim a big windmill or two can power a major city for 24x365.

    1. Mark 65

      Bingo, we have a winner

      Everyone gets told about how bad nuclear, gas and coal are and how much nicer it is to have renewables. Their energy bills go up. A nuclear plant suffers a meltdown. They're then told nuclear is a no go and wind etc are a must. Their energy bills carry on rising. They get told that it is because these renewables need subsidising. They're in a recession, increasing costs get on their tits, they starting liking the nuclear alternative. Simple really. Inform the masses about how different modern MSR nuclears are from Chernobyl etc and it'll rise in popularity again. Nobody likes shelling out ever more of their hard earned money especially when they believe it's being conned out of them.

  15. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Its "Whizz for atoms" as any fule kno

    1. Dave Walker 1
      Thumb Up

      +1 for the Nigel Molesworth quote

      hurrah for st. custards

      1. Roger Greenwood

        I blame skool.

  16. schotness


    That we just don't give a shit anymore

  17. Ian Ferguson
    Thumb Down

    Rather than automatically bashing the greens, maybe you could admit that there's a new generation of environmentally aware people who accept that nuclear power IS a viable green alternative.

    What's your data source for the gender gap? I'd think it's much more likely that there's an age gap.

  18. Graham Bartlett

    How many people got the subtitle?


  19. Solomon Grundy


    I would put El Reg right at the top of the pile for scaremongering in regards to any kind of energy article. If it's not nuclear then it'll make you go deaf, infertile, and poor.

  20. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward


    So would that German Green Party fringe be the one that got 24.2% in March elections in Baden-Wuerttemberg?

    1. Peter2 Silver badge

      Just because a party is called "Green" does not mean that those people have a clue about the issues involved.

      I mean, it's not like Green parties around the world haven't tried to ban the horribly dangerous chemical Di-hydrogen monoxide, a by product of many industrial processes including NUCLEAR power plants. In fact, the concentrations found in waterways outside every reactor tested in the country would be lethal if you did drink the lot!

  21. TRT Silver badge

    Because we learn from mistakes and can build them bigger and better now.

  22. Mr Young

    Nuclear power - fecking yeeeee)

    It'll do for the meantime, while fusion is 20 years away

  23. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward


    "It might be a stark contrast to Germany but we don't know because if there has been a similar poll there it isn't referenced."

    Actually, both statements in the article are correct - polls (apparently) *do* suggest the British generally support nuclear energy, and the German government *has* pretty much killed their nuclear-energy programme in the wake of Green protests. That said, there is IMHO a blunder here - Andrew has compared apples to oranges! Or to put it differently, British politicians might well follow their German colleagues' footsteps regardless of how the public feels about nuclear energy.

    Anyhow, right on Brits! Living in Germany at present I have both been near-constantly bombarded with scaremongering propaganda ever since the Fukushima incident and could see it actually working, it's good to see at least a hint of the opposite for change.

    1. Andrew Orlowski (Written by Reg staff)

      Re: @Jolyon

      That's a very astute observation.

      Germany had an election coming up, and so the political elite pandered to what it thought was the swing vote. This was a projection of their fears.

      1. Volker Hett

        Close, but no cigar

        the election is next year and nuclear power won't be a big part in it.

        OTOH, we can't afford nuclear powerplants, they cost lots and lots and lots of money and it takes a decade or two to refinance that. Hardly what "shareholders" expect today and it is close to impossible to fund the couple hundred millions needed for one powerplant with shares and credits.

        Government subsidies for nuclear power are a thing of the past since other Euro countries need our taxes :(

        1. Andydaws

          Well, if you can't afford nuclear

          you'll not be keen on the implications of other policies, even if we look only at capital cost:

          EDF's current budget for the developments at Hinkley Point and Sizewell is £19Bn. That includes grid connections, etc. That's for 4 x 1600MW EPRs. A capital cost of (19/6.4) Bn/GW = £2.98Bn/GW. If we assume that those will run at similar capacity factors to Sizewell B (just over 90% averaged over life and including the recent extended shutdown for pressuriser repairs) - that'll be about £3.31Bn/GW average output.

          A consortium of Dong Energy and Masdar is currently building the "London Array" windfarm. It's what's called "near offshore" - that is, in shallow water, close to the coast. It costs more than onshore, but much less than the far-offshore stuff that the German and UK wind development plans rely on. It's fairly representative of the sort of mix that we'll both use if the developments go ahead.

          London Array is due to cost €1.9Bn for 635MW, exclusive of grid connections. At current exchange rates, that's £2.57Bn/GW - but, on current experience, it's likely to operate at about a 0.27 capacity factor (German offshore experience is slightly worse - that indicates something under 0.25). That's therefore £9.55Bn/GW of average output - or, 2.9 times the implicit capital cost of nuclear.

          Your own experience in Germany with solar is even more salutory - in 2008, Germany had approximately 5.3GW of solar pv capacity installed. It operated at an average capacity factor of about 9% - so, and average output of 477MW. The capital cost of those installations is around €35Bn. That's about £64Bn/GW, or just under 20 times the implicit capital cost of nuclear.

          Note, in both of those latter cases, if there's more than minor penetration into the grid, you obviously have to operate back-up plant, or storage to offset intermittency. Those numbers ignore that incremental cost.

          If you want to look at storage costs, we've also some recent UK numbers to compare with. The only large volume energy storage system that's even close to economic viability is pumped-storage hydro (when I say "viable", it's obviously never going to compete directly with baseload power, since it has to buy baseload power to store - it relies on price differentials between low and high demand).

          SSE is building two pumped storage plants along the "Great Glen". They'll cost about £1.2Bn/GW, and can store enough water for about about 5-7 days output (uselfully, about as long an interrval of low wind ouput as we tend to see in a single event) . Were you to use that technology for wind, to allow you to guarantee that you could maintain steady output, you'd need to add (based on that same capacity factor) about 300MW per GW of wind capacity. So, we'd add that onto the baseline cost of the wind system - to give an equivalent cost of about £14Bn/GW average output.

          Doing the numbers for coal and gas is harder - their economics aren't dominated by capital costs, as are nuclear and renewables, so it's not really viable to do comparisons on capital costs only (on current finances, of the cost of a unit of nuclear-generated electricity, about 80% is capital and financing cost, about 90% for wind (excluding back-up), and about 95% for solar. for comparison, for non-carbon abated gas it's about 20%, and for non-abated coal about 30%; no-one yet really knows what's the cost and efficiency impact of Carbon capture, but it's sure as hell not cheap).

          1. nyelvmark


            Aye, aye, aye - I'm sure you know your bookkeeping and your "comparisons on capital costs" and your "non-carbon abated gasses", and all your other fancy book-learning, but it's still too bloody risky, if you ask me. What about that Hindenburg's hesitancy principle? I heard about that. It means that one of those nuke stations can just go critical any time it feels like, no matter what the so-called scientists say.

            When I was a lad, there wasn't any of this dangerous mucking around with stuff that man wasn't meant to wot of. We used good, clean, honest coal and dug it out o't ground wi'us own 'ands... [continued p94]

            1. Andydaws

              When I were a lad

              Ay, there were three hundred and forty seven of us, in a paper bag fall out shelter in't middle oft t' road....we 'ad to pick out t' plutonium from't spent fuel rods wi' our teeth.....

  24. All names Taken

    Uh-huh dood?


    The word "meltdown" no longer has that mythical resonance in the popular imagination that it did in the 1970s


    It sort of depends if it is in your own backyard or not I think.

    Now if a nuclear reactor went into meltdown in Kent or close by to London maybe, just maybe the poll responses would be different?

    On the other hand it is easy to be pishy-wishy about nuclear reactors melting down when they are a global diameter or half a globe away n'est pas?

    1. Sean Baggaley 1


      On the Dengie peninsula near Essex. Closed in 2002, it's expected to be reopened again (after the old plant is decommissioned) in 2025.

      Opened in 1962, it operated just fine for its entire lifetime and managed to not kill anyone at all.

      And that's *despite* a leak that went unnoticed for some 14 years. (To quote the Environment Agency, the leak "did not cause any risk to local people or the environment.")

      I lived near there myself for about a year, back in the '90s when it was still operating. Had a great view of it too. Frankly, the house was in more danger of killing me—it was a relatively new Barratt-style affair with a bloody great crack in a structural wall thanks to rampant subsidence—than the nuclear plant just across the Tollesbury Fleet and Blackwater.

      And it's surprising how few people factor in the pollution produced by traditional power plants; pollution that's far more likely to shorten your life than the microscopic amount of radiation you'd get living near a nuclear reactor.

      How about people chill a bit, and just admit that there's shit they know, and shit they *don't* know, and therefore shouldn't fucking waste people's time by commenting on the topic based on nothing more than wilful ignorance.

      Because there are plenty of workers at nuclear power stations today. As nobody (in the UK at least) is forced to work at a job not of their choosing, that means those workers are either entirely ignorant of how nuclear power generation works, or they clearly know something you don't. My money's on the latter.

    2. Andydaws

      That would depend, rather....

      on what you mean by a melt-down.

      Three Mile Island melted a large proportion of its fuel (just over half) - with no signficant impact beyond the plant boundary.

      Remember, too that the reactor that was damaged there was unit 2 of a 2 unit plant - TMI-1 continues to operate today.

      In the medium term, the impact of Fukushima may be interesting. The picture of health effects, etc. that's emerged post Chernobyl is of minimal eral impact - far more damage to people has been caused by fearmongering and it's psychological effects, and the dislocation caused by the evacuation. Pretty much everywhere outside Green circles, it was starting to be recognised that the anticipated spike in cancer rates (except thyroid) had simply not materialised for anyone except the workers who got extremely high doses, working on the immediate aftermath of the accident. However, it's hard to be certain of that, because of the inadequacies of the Soviet health recording system, and of the impact of the collapse of the USSR.

      That's unlikely to apply in Japan, of all places. I'll predict with confidence that no statistically detectable effects will emerge - even the thyroid cancer problems that hit Ukraine and Byelorussia won't happen, due to the Japanese's prompt action in issuing iodine tablets and/or syrup.

      And, should that be the case, we need to start seriously questioning our approach to setting radiation exposure limits - it'll be ironic if it transpires that more people died as a result of the evacuation that would have died if they'd stayed put.

    3. Scorchio!!

      Re: Uh-huh dood?

      "Now if a nuclear reactor went into meltdown in Kent or close by to London maybe, just maybe the poll responses would be different?"

      If they were not sited in relatively remote coastal areas do you not think that people would moan about this? That's right, nuclear power plants need to be near to lots of water (think Fukushima), and are best sited away from extremely large cities on the basis of risk analysis alone. Risk analysis would bar putting one in the Thames estuary simply from the shipping/commerce perspective. A non sequitur response to the effect that the planners know there is a risk misses the point that coal and other power stations are also best sited away from major connurbations, that Buncefield ought to have been, and so on.

      Then there is the question of good design, and safety features: "The Windscale fire could have been far worse if filters had not been installed at the tops of the chimneys" [ ]

      1. Andydaws

        There is a nuclear site on the Thames Estuary

        Bradwell. The old Magnox plant is shut down, but it's one of the sites bought by EDF for a possible second phase of development after Hinkley and Sizewell.

        1. Scorchio!!

          Re: There is a nuclear site on the Thames Estuary

          Yes. Shouldn't be there. It flies in the face of sensible risk taking in this context. There are two sides to risk taking; 1 the probability that a given event will occur; 2 the extent of damage to humans that the event will cause, given its location and other factors determining the magnitude of the 'event'.

          1. Andydaws

            What particular risks do you think

            siting a station on an estuary brings?

            FWIW, of our seven AGR sites, five are on estuaries (the two Heysham sites on the Lune, Hinkley Point on the Severn, Hartlepool on the Tees, Hunterston on the Clyde).

            The area around Bradwell's pretty empty - good old Essex marshland.

            Frankly, I'd worry more about Heysham, given the port is also the point at which Morecambe Bay gas is brought ashore.

  25. Brangdon Bronze badge

    Disenchanted with alternatives

    It may have little to do with Nukes or Fukushima, and instead reflect increased experience with the alternatives. Green power isn't really viable at the required scales, and fossil fuel is not clean and will run out fairly soon; and these things just become more and more apparent as time goes by. Most people who support nuclear only do so grudgingly, because they see it as the lesser of evils, and would jump at fusion (or whatever) if it worked.

    1. Sean Baggaley 1
      Thumb Up


      People have had a lot more time to educate themselves about the options available today—it's been about 15 years now—and there's a new generation that's grown up with the "climate change" mantra drummed into their heads since junior school.

      We've moved on from asking "is Climate Change happening?" Many would have us believe that the next thing to do is to find out who's to blame for this, despite the fact that palaeontologists and archeologists can point to major climate change events *long before* Homo Sapiens came along, so whether Man is partially responsible for it is utterly irrelevant. It's a pointless (and probably dangerous) distraction.

      The only answer science can give us right now is a vague "maybe"; the Earth's climate system is simply not fully understood well enough at present for a clear, concrete "yes" or "no" answer.

      The *correct* questions are:

      1. "Can we do anything to mitigate the effects?"

      2. "SHOULD we do anything? After all, we barely understand how the planet's climate really works; we could easily cock it up royally!"

      People haven't necessarily had to read scientific papers. Enough information has dripped out of the media over the past generation or so that it's not that hard to work out what's really going on. We know that there are fanatics, obsessives and even dangerous extremists in *every* field, so there's no reason why ecologists and climatologists should be an exception. At one extreme, you have those who decide to fit a solar heating system to their home. At the other extreme, you have the tree-hugging weirdo who sincerely believes that the best human is an extinct one.

      We've been there, bought the T-shirt, and taken it back for a refund.

      The mainstream media used to be entirely behind the use of renewable energy. In recent years, cracks have appeared in that solidarity: electric cars are clearly only going to be as good as the unspectacular battery technology they rely upon. Wind farms are massive, expensive, ugly, and don't even produce that much electricity—and certainly not when it's needed. Ditto for solar power (although that does make more sense in energy-poor nations like Italy, where most people are already used to getting just 3kWh at the door.)

      The Germans may be pulling out of nuclear power—a move they're likely to regret, unless they have a working cold fusion reactor up their sleeves—but they're *also* pulling away from wind power too.

      But, fundamentally, we're seeing something Homo Sapiens has long understood: The Truth lies somewhere between the incessantly and tiresomely loudmouthed extremes.

      The moderates always win in the end. And that means we'll end up with what we should have aimed for in the first place: a balanced mix of energy sources.

  26. Armando 123


    Men like it because it's more likely to anger the watermelons. Which is about the only blood sport left these days, outside of family reunions.

    1. Andrew Orlowski (Written by Reg staff)

      Re: Perhaps

      Chortle :-)

      This should be a PhD thesis.

      "Gender antagonism and nuclear energy: a family perspective"

      I doubt the "social psychologist" the Guardian dredged up would want to write it, though.

  27. AndrueC Silver badge
    Thumb Down

    I'll be happier if the residents can move back before the end of the decade. That would be on par with a conventional (but bad) industrial disaster. What bothers me is that there are already suggestions that it could be several decades before everyone is allowed back.

    1. Sean Baggaley 1

      That's just money.

      As I understand it, that neck of the woods isn't particularly densely populated, so it's cheaper to just relocate those affected—even 10 years is a long time to live in temporary accommodation!—and keep a skeleton clean-up crew going instead. There's no rush.

      1. AndrueC Silver badge
        Thumb Down

        >There's no rush

        I doubt that the 100,000+ people that have had to leave their homes agree with that. I also don't think that the wider public would be pleased at that attitude.

        1. Andydaws

          So far as I understand it, the evacuation order is starting to be lifted

          as detailed information on radiation levels becomes more available:

          The original 20km, and then 30km zones were circular, around the plant. What's emerging is that the heavy contamination is mostly in a relatively narrow band running North-West from the stationand includes villages like Iliate. This

          says that about 8% of the area is at 550KBq/M2 - So, about 110KM2 is above that threshold,

          The boundary for the exclusion zone at Chernoby was 3.7MBq/M2, for comparison.


          The contamination is about 50:50 caesium 134 and 137. They have half-lives of 2 and 30 years respectively. Ten years out, that'll have declined by about 70% more than half (the 134 will be almost gone, and the 137 declined by about 20%) - that's ignoring any physical removal via water movement, etc.

          As a rule of humb, someone standing on soil contaminated at 1MBq/M2 will get dosage of about 19milliSieverts/year. So, in about ten years, that'd amount to annual exposure of about 5.7mSV/yr plus normal backround, so about 7.2 mSV/yr.

          That's about what the average Cornish resident, or inhabitant of Aberdeen gets.

          There are obviously "hotspots" above that in that area, of course.

          1. Scorchio!!

            Re: So far as I understand it, the evacuation order is starting to be lifted

            "There are obviously "hotspots" above that in that area, of course."

            Indeed, and there are also radon hot spots in Cornwall in which areas there is a significantly high level of associated cancers:



            1. Andydaws

              There's been rather a lot of work on whether or not there's a relationship between

              cancer incidence and Radon exposure - and it tends not to point that way:


              "...To investigate the relationship of domestic radon levels and cancer, the incidence of 14 major cancers in Devon and Cornwall were examined in relation to the local radon levels. Cancer registrations for 1989–1992 were provided by the South-Western Regional Cancer Registry. The average radon levels for postcode sectors were sorted into ten categories from low (< 40 Bq/m3) to extremely high (⩾ = 230 Bq/m3) and age-standardised incidence rates were calculated for each radon category. The incidence rates for lung cancer, where radon has been claimed to be a risk factor, were very similar across all domestic radon categories. Only non-melanoma skin cancers, showed a significant increase in incidence in the high-radon postcode sectors (⩾ = 100 Bq/m3) compared with the low-radon sectors (< 60 Bq/m3) and this effect was observed for both sexes. The remaining 12 cancer sites showed no significant trend in incidence rates with increasing radon concentration. There was no significant difference in corrected survival rates for any cancer site between the low- and high-radon areas. The possible contribution of confounding factors to the results of this study is discussed..."

              Is pretty much the most comprehensive. There are similar studies from the US.

  28. Eddy Ito

    the gap

    Since you asked, my guess at the gender gap is that men become inured to scary news more quickly than do women. I'm sure some trick cyclist would be happy to come up with some cock and bull story about huntering and gatherering with a smattering of taking care of the chitlins thrown in to explain it all. All I can say is that I sleep a lot heavier now than I once did and that seems to have started about the same time the little feet started milling about. The missus, not so much, wakes at the drop of a glass.

    1. Havin_it


      Why would we be worried about taking care of the cooked pig intestines?

  29. honkhonk34

    It's a simple matter of options

    Choose one of the following:

    1. Retain status quo of hydrocarbon based energy along with a minority of nuclear power and subsidized green power sources. Rising prices will first cause disadvantaged people to go without power or heating, then presumably eventually blackouts, potentially leading to a shortfall in industry and commerce and a ruined economy. (what's left of it) eventually enough green power would become available to meet demand, this may happen over ~50 years.

    2. Increase use of Nuclear power, dodging the worst of the price rises as dependency on hydrocarbons will be lower. Limited brownouts or blackouts, less damage to the economy. Nuclear would (I would expect) be phased out to green power or other clean technologies within the ~50 year period. We have a larger volume of radioactive waste which must be disposed of, however we have a stronger economy and higher quality of life throughout this period.

    Might get flamed for it but that's the way I look at it.

    1. Andrew Orlowski (Written by Reg staff)

      Re: It's a simple matter of options

      The HRH Prince Charles would count "damage to the economy" as a positive. He's not alone.

      1. Scorchio!!

        Re: Re: It's a simple matter of options

        "The HRH Prince Charles would count "damage to the economy" as a positive. He's not alone."

        Does he still talk to his plants? Interestingly it's probably the exhaled CO2 that makes them grow. Now there's a thing. o_0

  30. Mikel

    So the UK has a plan for waste disposal?

    Over on the other side of the pond we haven't sorted that yet, and can't "weigh the costs" until we do.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Radioactive Waste

      You could always do what a traditional coal power plant does with its radioactive waste - vent it straight into the atmosphere.

      At least nuclear power stations are capable of sequestering the waste.

  31. Stuart 1

    Small Modular Reactors - SMR's

    SMR's - Small Modular Reactors are the way forward. Sealed units that run for 20+ years with no re-fuelling and little maintenance. Each the size of a small electricity substation but able to power a town the size of Reading. Just swap the cores out when they're spent. They've had decades of development in milary contexts and there is plenty more development to come. Bill Gates has put his money behind them, but don't let that put you off.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      I reckon you're right.

      Brings a whole new meaning to (Cerenkov) Blue Screen of Death, still, least it's not a Linux core dump.

      El-Reg, Y U Stop AC choosing Icon?

    2. Volker Hett

      that scares me :)

      Bill Gates put his money behind lots of stuff, Microsoft Bob, Windows ME, MS TV, Zune, that phone they scrapped last year ...

      And, come to think of that, I'm unsure if I want one of those running the embedded OS my BMW had :)

    3. Andydaws

      Not quite, Stuart.

      A couple of points:

      There's only one of the proposed SMRs has any relationship to the various military systems is the B&W "mpower" proposal, which is basically just a small PWR. Most of thte others are liquid metal cooled fast systems.

      The system Gates was backing is very different - it's the "travelling wave" design, again, a sodium-cooled fast design. It's also evolved a lot in the first couple of years of design, from something with almost no moving parts to something that's starting to look awfully like a conventional fast design.

      The huge, outstanding question with SMRs is what's going to be the capital cost/MW of output - they will certainly lose on economies of scale, but the concept is that they can gain back some of that by having a larger proportion of factory-build and quicker construction times. TBH, I'm sceptical - the generation 3+ designs like the ESBWR and AP1000 are already largely modularised, and the ASBWR, the ESBWR predecessor (and a descendant of the Fukushima desin) is typically built in 36-38 months from first concrete to first power. ESBWR should be even better.

      <get anorak>

  32. Graham Wilson

    It seems postmodernism mumbo jumbo is beginning to wane.

    Recent surveys indicate that whilst the most significant aspects of postmodernism are likely to remain, its mumbo jumbo aspects are significantly on the wane (and I surely hope so).

    People now, it seems, want more certainty in their lives; and with this once again comes an understanding of and faith in science, engineering, measurement and standards.

    It seems that naysayers have but cried 'wolf' or exaggerated for the point of emphasis all but once too often.

    Thus, Greens and others who loudly and emotively squawk out unqualified existential quantifiers to deliberately influence the gullible; and or those who push questionable unreferenced information sans any quantifiable/meaningful supporting facts, will, in future, either be ignored or just considered an irrelevant noise source by the vast majority of the population.

    Recent trends have things improving, there nevertheless remains the problem of reversing the damage inflicted by 40 or so years of postmodernism. It's expected that to undo and reverse both popular and institutional postmodernist thinking would take considerable time--perhaps many years.

    This seemingly more rational British attitude towards nuclear issues is, hopefully, an extension or continuation of that already mentioned wider trend whereby the majority is taking a more rigorous and logical approach towards solving problems and issues generally.

  33. itzman

    Oh dear oh dear.

    'Renewable' energy:

    Energy derived from an uncontrolled and uncontrollable nuclear reactor 93 million miles away whose radiation causes 3000 deaths a year from skin cancer in the UK alone.

    Fossil energy:

    As above, but accidentally stored by Nature into usefully compact banks of easily extractable fuel that sadly is not inexhaustible.

    Nuclear power:

    Energy derived from a controlled reactor 60 miles away that causes no deaths a year.

    Nuclear energy:

    The energy that built the Universe.

    Wind power:

    A technology 2-5 times more wasteful of money and materials than nuclear power that guarantees rendering (watt or watt) an area of land completely uninhabitable, or an area of sea completely unusable for shipping, somewhat larger than the temporary precautionary exclusion zone placed around Fukushima.


  34. amanfromearth

    "Despite the massive and often neurotically inaccurate Western media coverage"

    Ah yes.. Lewis Page

  35. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Fatality or futility?

    Why do you pay for such lazy journalism? 3 TEPCO employees died. 100,000 people cannot and probably will never be able to return to their homes. Schoolchildren go to nearby schools where radiation count is 5 times prior legal limit. You pay journalists to get their facts right, right?

    1. Remy Redert

      re: Fatality or futility

      You mean the 3 TEPCO employees who died in the earthquake? Can't really blame the nuclear reactor for a crane collapsing on people.

      100,000 people, most of which can return to their homes before the end of 2012, with the damaged reactors under control and clean up under way in the areas that were contaminated with radioactive isotopes that haven't already decayed to nothing.

      School children going to nearby schools where the radiation count is 5 times the prior legal limit? Source please? Nothing I can find substantiates this at all.

      1. AndrueC Silver badge

        Please state your sources

        I want to believe you, I really do. I'm of the opinion that it's no where near as dangerous as people think and that, yes, people ought to be going back home in a year or so. Unfortunately all I've found recently are articles suggesting that people won't be returning for many years..and those are the less extreme ones. So please point me to a few articles that confirm what you say.

    2. Jos


      And this one is actually a bit more serious (I know, it has been posted before)...

    3. nyelvmark

      3 fatalities?

      Oh nonsense. I saw a BBC web page about Fukushima only about a week after it happened. I couldn't be bothered to read it, but it was plainly stated in a sidebar that at least 14,000 people died. I think there was a volcano, or a train crash or something at the same time which may have inflated the figures a bit, but the BBC doesn't lie.

  36. PassiveSmoking

    Thorium FTW!

    For Bob's sake, someone please start doing serious research into thorium reactors!

    Seriously, the fuel is more plentiful than Uranium, doesn't require difficult and expensive processing, produces waste that's a lot less nasty, doesn't produce anything that could be used to build a nuclear weapon and could provide for our energy needs for a thousand years or more at current energy consumption levels.

    Whilst I think there's been a lot of hysteria over uranium reactors, I still see them as only a stop-gap solution. The fuel's expensive and scarce and requires a lot of processing to make is a useful fuel. Uranium reactors can also be used to breed weapons-grade materials and the waste they leave behind isn't exactly something you can sweep under the rug.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward


      China's working on it. Prepare to welcome your new Chinese energy overlords in 3... 2...

    2. Andydaws

      You mean, apart from the Indians,

      who've been trying to get a Thorium cycle to work efficienctly for the last 20-odd years?

      1. umacf24

        Solid vs Liquid

        Thorium/U233 cycle is a breeder cycle, and like all breeders there's a requirement for timely chemical processing of the reactor core.

        Thorium is more dependent on this than the U238/Pu breeder cycle because thorium involves an intermediate which can be poisoned by neutrons if it remains within the core. Conventional reprocessing of solid fuel can work for U238/Pu, but the Indian design of solid thorium oxide in among the fuel is, apparently, too hard.

        So the approach that's being talked about now is an old reactor design where the nuclear materials are disolved as fluoride salts in molten lighter fluorides. The core is just a cauldron of the molten salts with a moderator, and the same material fills the primary coolant loop.

        This approach has a number of intrinsic safety features as the core can swell out of the moderator (and thus throttle down) when it gets too hot and can flow into subritical, cooling efficient shapes to shutdown with passive cooling. And because it's not using water it's not pressurised, so it won't explode in the TMI/Fukushima style.

        But breeder designs benefit from liquid core for a different reason. Liquid chemistry is easier than the engineering needed to open up fuel rods and dissolve them in nitric acid. The re-processing can be done conveniently at the plant, little and often, without shipping rods and radioactive stuff all over the country. I'm guessing that a liquid core is required to make thorium/U233 practical.

        So this one approach offers:

        - The huge waste reduction and fuel efficiency of breeders

        - Passive walkaway safety of liquid core

        - And, as a bonus, it'll run at temperatures that can run efficient air-cooled gas turbines, so they can be built on small sites inland.

        You can find any amount of stuff. Google "LFTR" or "MSR Thorium" to find stuff from enthusiasts like Kirk Sorenson (who was in London last week BTW).

        1. Andydaws


          you underestimate, I think the engineering problems of the chemical processing. And there's a major issue you miss.

          "Timely" means very different things in the two designs.

          In an MSR, you're reprocessing in real time - no time to allow decay of the most difficult fission products to decay away. Even if you assume a cooling time of as little as a year before moving fuel into reprocessing on a conventional FBR, something of the order of 95% of the radiation from the fission products will have decayed - you'll have lost all the Xenon, all the iodine 131, 50% of the Cs 134 and so on. That makes the radiological problems much easier.

          And no, the decanning of fuel is hardly the most serious problem. It's a simple mechanical process Compare that to what you lightly describe as "liquid chemistry" - you're actually discussing processing highly radioactive and corrosive halide salts at 500-700 centigrade. The thermal problems alone are scary.

          As an example, the "intermediate" you mention is Protactinium. The chemistry that would be used to extract that (and extract it you must - it's a strong neutron absorber) involved bubbling the halide-salt fuel through liquid bismuth. And, doing it at a level of reliability (or redundancy) that means that the extraction system must be available continually whenever there's generation going on. That's not simple stuff - and add to it that the plant will be highly activated and physically extremely hot. Once run, you can't approach it easily. As a final delight, the main activation product of bismuth is Polonium 210 - remember Alexander Litvineko? You'll need a secondary plant to extract that from the bismuth.....

          The overselling of the MSR concept is getting worrying. Let's set this in context. The history of the design is that one non-power generating prototype, of about 5MWth ran (intermittently) for 5 years in the 1950s. It didn't breed. By contrast, the prototype AGR ran for a decade or more, actually generating power - and it didn't stop the contruction of the plants being an utter nightmare.

          It has virtues, true enough. But few of those are unique to it. Variations on "conventional" breeders have pretty much the same ones (options for high temperature operation, inherent stability, lack of pressurisation and fuel economy). The difference is, there's experience at scale of building and running multiple prototypes, (and even one in commercial operation), without the need to develop a whole set of new fuel management solutions. If you don't like sodium coolant (due to it's reactiveness), there's a superior option available - lead.

          1. umacf24


            The chemistry is certainly daunting, though you didn't mention the bit which sets my teeth on edge which is fluorination to "bubble off" UF6!

            Two-salt designs mean that you are not dealing with fission products in the breeder circuit. Thorium is cheap enough that simply abstracting the entire irradiated breeder salt might be simpler than attempting to do anything useful to the protoactinium.

            (And apropos of nothing, fission-product Xenon can bubble straight out of a liquid core, which saves neutrons but results in a less satisfactory waste product -- swings and roundabouts. I don't know much about iodine fluorides but I imagine that they do something simlar too. Liquid core win!)

            My personal view is that liquid core reactors are well worth a look, as I suspect that passive cooling is going to be an essential part of the safety story for public acceptance, and if you want a large high power core to cool passively, changing its shape is a believable approach. Thorium cycle breeding is much more of a challenge: one neutron to continue the reaction, one to breed and 0.5 or so to cover all losses seems tight to me. But the potential payoff is so colossal that I would like to see it get its best shot, and that's online reprocessing...

            1. Andydaws

              Even if you go for a "two salt" design

              having a neutron sink (i.e. a breeder salt blanket with heavy Protactinium content) in the area surrounding the core will still nicely screw neutron economy. And you can't miss out the Protactinium - the reaction is

              232ThU + n -> 233Th - beta, gamma -> 233Pa - beta, gamma -> U233

              The protactinium is where the uranium fuel comes from! You have to take it out to allow the Pa decay (about a thirty day half-life; leave it for 12 months, and you've got 99.9% pure U233). If you pull out the whole blanket afer a single pass, you'll have a very low Pa yield. You need a lot of neutron flux into the blanket to get a decent yield, but to get the PA out of it fast once formed, basically.

              Incidentally that rather gives the lie to the idea that MSR's are inherently completely proliferation proof. Keep the extracted Pa for a couple of years and you've got VERY pure 233U....

              The problem comes in if you leave it in situ, to absorb additional neutrons - to get it to somewhere useful, you need two more neutron absorbtion events to get to 235U.

              "-product Xenon can bubble straight out of a liquid core" - That doesn't seem to have been the case on the 1950s prototypes, there seems to have been sufficient solubility in the salt to prevent that. It required spraying (!) of the molten salt into an inert gas chamber, then recovering the xenon from the inert gas (separating the two subsequently might by a challenge, given both are chemically inert). It's another aspect that makes me nervy - spraying halide salts at 600C! There's then a vacuum distillation process to remove the likes of caesium, plus probably others to remove a scarily mixed bag of other fission and activation products - samarium, palladium, neodymium, europium etc - many of which aren't very reactive, and are thus hard to extract.

              Remember, too, once removed, you can't just vent or dump these various products. You'll have to provide cooled, secure storage (and probably, at least for some of the higher volume stuff like 134Cs and 131I, removal of their own decay products)

              There are plenty of breeder technolgies available, which don't mandate "real time" reprocessing; if you opt for the sorts of pyroporcessing models proposed for IFR, or the molten-salt methods proposed by the Russians for BREST, you avoid extraction of pure Pu - hence no proliferation problem - but, the year or two's dwell-time for the fuel not only gets rid of the real short-half-life horros, but decouples the operation of the reprocessing plant from that of the reactor.

  37. johnwerneken

    Greens are the Enemy of Humanity

    There is another Register piece that says it all about as well as it can be said. "Save the Planet - Stop the Greens". Irrational dastards every one, except when it comes to advancing their selfish anti-human agenda.

  38. Richard Jukes

    Graham Wilson: STFU. It is your sort of 'management' talk and utter bollocks that along with the Greens is ruining this little world of ours.

    Its pretty simple, Nuclear is the ONLY realistic option at the moment for a secure supply of cheap energy. It is also the cleanest. And the safest. So what is the problem?

    While we are on the topic, mass genocide of stupid people (with me of course setting the criteria) might be an idea. Alternatively we could just deport the unemployed wasters to Thailand and give them £5 a week to live on.

    PS. Graham, I know we are both on the same 'side' as such, however one Great Britain once said "Short words are the best and old words when short are best of all." I also like to apply that logic to entire sentences and paragraphs. So keep it simple dude.

  39. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Want some advice from the west coast USA?

    For the people...

    Obtain a Geiger counter now.

    Find your normal background radiation now.

    Monitor and set baselines now.

    Then when they say there is no leak, you can say yes there is look right here you scumbag liar, go to prison for life!

    On the building side...

    Devise a plan which can store the waste for 237 million years.

    Devise a penta backup plan. Five layers of backup.

    Build anywhere except over caldera, volcano, or on coast with tsunami.

    Outlaw WEIRD designs or one of a kind parts or reactors which will be 75 years old when coming online (like that nightmare in the USA TVA.)

    Make lying about logs or physics LIFE in Prison.

    Build away.

  40. h4rm0ny

    It's the Old Guard.

    The article has it aright. Most of the people I talk to aren't especially concerned by Nuclear Power. Either they are educated on the subject, in which case they assess the risks against the realities of fossil fuel power and the current state of renewable energies, and generally find Nuclear favorable. Or else they're fairly ignorant on the whole subject and mostly just shrug and go along with whatever they're told by people who can sound like they know what they're talking about. One thing that seems pretty clear, is that there is no longer and instinctive anxiety at the word nuclear. People have even learned that nuclear power and nuclear bombs are different things.

    GENERALLY. The problem is that there are still some disturbingly fanatical people who are incredibly noisy on the subject and try to shout down anyone who is either pro-nuclear or just mildly tolerant of it. And the senior bods at a lot of environmental bodies are these people. This Old Guard have a lock-down on senior positions in organizations like Friends of the Earth, the Green Party and numerous others. Most people are fine with nuclear power and most modern environmentalists at least consider it a reasonable option with some us shouting it from the rooftops as a vital tool that we must use more. But the Old Guard at the top of these organizations are just not dying fast enough. And they will fight tooth and nail to keep nuclear off the table. They're not even doing it out of ignorance anymore. Just read a Friends of the Earth publication and see all the little half-truths and slanders with which they try to dismiss the benefits of nuclear power which they are perfectly aware of.

    If you're an environmentalist today, and many of us are these days just as a normal part of our beliefs, not something that we define ourselves by, then one of the most important things you can do, is try to displace the dinosaurs at the top of most environmental who pretend to speak for us before they lead us into a disaster. Renewable energy is important and should be used - solar towers, geothermal, tidal power, wind-power in some cases (not as a major part of our energy economy), but nuclear is vital right now. You do NOT want to live in an energy-rationed economy and wanting to is not a required trait of an environmentalist.

  41. Smophos

    Whoops, bit late

    Hang on a minute, I've lost count of the amount of men I've tried to explain one of the following to: how to understand the controls on the TV remote, wiring a plug, putting together a PC etc etc. It's ridiculous, I could not believe it, it's supposed to be me doing the "Oh darling, I'm stuck!" right?

    I don't believe most women are interested enough in technology (so boring, who doesn't prefer shoes) to educate themselves ergo best to say no, with men on the other hand maybe it's cool to pretend you know what's going on and just randomly agree. I assume this was a survey of Joe Public but I was just so riled that people might think women were worse than men that I couldn't read that terrible article, horrifying right?!

    Maybe I don't belong here anyway, being an EE and all that on this fancy IT websitewhatdoyoumacallit, oh no, maybe I should just run back to the kitchen and think of kittens :D

    You'll have to excuse my poor sarcasm, I'm both under 25 and own breasts, I couldn't possibly use any of the little wit I have. I even had to use an icon with a man on it!

    "Darling! Help, I'm stuck!"

  42. jonathanb Silver badge

    Nobody dead, many inconvenienced

    While nobody has died as a result of Fukushima, yet, all those people who have been evacuated from their homes will have their lives seriously inconvenienced until this is all cleared up, and if Chernobyl is anything to go by, it will be about another 300 years before they can return to their homes. That is a level of economic damage you don't get with any other sort of power source.

    Looking at the effect of a similar meltdown over here, if Hunterston Power Station were to have a major meltdown, a 30km exclusion zone would take out Prestwick Airport, and would be within 1km of Glasgow Airport, which I think means that planes would not be able to approach the runway from the south. Basically you can wave goodbye to most of the central belt of Scotland west of Glasgow.

    While it is good that nobody is dead, there is more to life than being alive.

    1. Charles 9 Silver badge

      Then I suggest you look up...

      ...hydroelectric dam incidents (think Banqiao Dam), power pool inundation (think Aswan Dam), radioactive coal exhausts, acid rain, and tailings and other coal waste dams, for starters. To be honest, I strongly suspect NO source of power is a free lunch. I'll bet even fusion, should it come in our generation, will have strings attached.

      1. jonathanb Silver badge

        Have any of these left large areas of land uninhabitable for the next 300 years? I agree that on a headcount basis some of these examples were worse than a nuclear meltdown, but my argument is that you should look at other things as well.

        1. Andydaws

          Not sure where "300 years" comes from, but....

          According to wikipedia, background radiation levels in Pripyat - the former Dormitory town for the Chernobyl plant, and only a couple of miles form the plant itself are about 1 microsievert/hour. That's about 8.7 millisieverts per year. Prior to the accident, the average for the Ukraine was about 2-2.5 millisieverts/year - so, about 6 1/2 millisieverts incremental dose.

          However, the average background in Cornwall is about 7.5 millisieverts/year, and that in most of New England (including heavily populated areas like Princeton) is about 6-6.5 milliSieverts. Neither of those shows any health effects. There are particular spots on Dartmoor where background can run up to 6-8 times the Cornish average

          It's the same sort of radiation, too. The incremental dosages at Pripyat are 95% from Caesium 137 - a beta-gamma emitter. Those in Cornwall and New England are mostly from radon (from uranium deacy in the local granite rocks). Radon is also a beta-gamma emitter. The difference is, caesium has little biological take up - it tends to bind into soils, wheras radon is mobile, and as a gas, finds its way into the lungs and hence bloodstream. It's therefore probable that internal dosages in Cornwall and New England are much higher.

          If we ignore that latter effect, Pripyat will have the same background levels as the Cornish average in about 10 years from now, 25 years after the accident. It'll have the same levels as Princeton in 20.

          I don't consider either uninhabitable (OK, there are some dodgy bits of Plymouth, but that's not radiation.....).

          Oh, and I'm off next week, to Kerala and Chennai on business. Background there can run up to 30mSV/year or more.

  43. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward


    "massive and often neurotically inaccurate Western media coverage"

    -There's little else from anywhere, Japanese govt has been caught withholding in an attempt to avoid panicing people and hide a legacy of underfunding and disrepair on top of which I suspect a wealthy industry has no doubt been putting pressure on stalwart bastions of reliable, balanced information provision like News Int.

    Who are these people that think building reactors on geological fault lines is a good idea?

    Who are "the public" that allegedly trust them?

    Who can hand on heart say they want power sources with the potential to become uncontrollable and make massive areas of land uninhabitable and even more massive percentages of the planet toxic and have them run by any of the politicians and boys club businessmen that seem to get put in charge?

    Which of the above doesn't need their head tested?

    The truth will out, sadly the it will be in the increased cancer rates in Asia Pacific and in the decimation of edible fish stocks.

  44. TheOtherHobbbes


    a large area of Japan has been evacuated because it's irradiated and uninhabitable, and therefore nuclear is perfectly safe and a good thing and we should have more of it.

    Uh huh.

    *Impressive* grasp of basic rationality and logic there.

    1. Andydaws

      A "large area"?

      According to the Asahi Shinbun, about 85 of the 30Km evacuation zone is contaminated above 550KBq/M2 of caesium. for comparison, the boundary for the Chernobyl exclusion zone was set at 3.7MBq/m2 - so, that level is a bit under 1/6th that used for Chernobyl.

      the 30KM zone is roughly semicircular (because the site's on the coast). That's a total of 1400Km2, roughly. 8% of that is about 110Km2.

      550KBq/m2 will give you about 10mSV/yr. The natural background in Chennai, or Kerala is about 30mSv/yr. In Ramsar, in Iran, it's north of 200mSv/yr - and Ramsar is a health spa!

      In ten years, that 550Kbq will have decayed to about 165Bq/M2. The dose rate will have fallen proportionately. At that stage, it'll be about what you get if you live in Princeton, in New England.

      Pretty unimpressive grasp of numbers, there.....

      1. Andydaws

        typo, sorry - that's 8%


  45. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    the word pro-nukers cant say


    1. This post has been deleted by its author

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      The word anti-nukers don't want to say...


    3. Andydaws

      I can say it, quite happily.

      I can also say, energy production potential 34TWh/Kg.

      For comparison, coal is around 6.7Kwh/Kg. Or, a factor of about 5,000,000,000 smaller.

  46. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Editorial slip

    "Perhaps the British public isn’t as stupid as the media – and many environmentalist campaigners – seem to think."

    The last seven words of that sentence are redundant.

    1. perlcat
      Black Helicopters

      on public stupidity

      You can call it an awakening, or you can just call it a smelling of rats.

      You can only get so much conflicting information from a source like the lamestream media before you start to discount everything. I feel the education of modern journos has missed a

      vital text -- "The Boy Who Cried Wolf".

      It isn't that people have suddenly become intelligent -- just that they are no longer believing everything one particular source tells them. People as a whole remain as stupid and gullible as ever, and have moved on to other sources.

      As to the 'Man Vs. Woman" angle? Women have (statistically) been more able to deal with "soft facts", and aren't as quickly disillusioned by a source feeding them obvious bullshit. After all, they have to put up with a lot of stories from us men about where we were last night until 2 in the AM...

      Black heli so I can get out before the flames.

  47. ledmil

    What about France?

    Wonder if attitudes will change after the incident in France today?

    1. Andydaws

      unlikely - it's a nasty

      but basically local industrial accident.

      Given what Marcoule does, I'll give good odds it's not even on the nuclear processing parts of the plant - it's basically a fuel fabrication site nowadays.

  48. TerryAcky

    Another thing...

    Just to keep the ball rolling...

    The green adgenda simply does not scale adequately. Wind farms, geothermal, solar, biomass, hydro etc. All very laudible, and each useful - if only in in a geographically limited scope. Each however has its own geographic or economic issues. In all honesty I personally see no real evidence that these, in combination, will meet the future energy demands of a rapidly growing and developing global population, at a price that all current and future nation and individual consumers will be able to afford.

    Parts of the green agenda are based on falsehoods or incomplete science - and in the case of the *cough* IPCC - often both. For example we now know that the IPCC climate models are - in very simple terms - wrong. Real science has now proven that solar forcing, as one example - as used in IPCC climate models - is grossly understimated. [Link: [Warning. PDF]].

    If the greens can advance their adgenda based on factual science and science that has no politically predefined/preferred outcome then I wish them well. Until this time however, the green agenda cannot be taken seriously as a global proposition.

    If I were a greenie, I personally, would stop bleating about nuclear and concentrate on whining about fossil fuels and those darned American polluters.

  49. Marco Mieshio

    Oh really

    I do not believe for one minute that confidence in Nuclear Power has gone up. Who did the survery BNFL? Who wrote this article the Atomic Energy Agency. Flattering people to make them look more intelligent than someone else is a NLP tactic. The end result being you sell them an idea by making them feel good about themselves. Not me, nuclear fuel is dirty, I mean really dirty and not article, especially one that is not scientific, will change my opinion of this.

  50. EsDeeTee

    Polls are a joke. I remember a poll in Italy about nuclear power in year 2009. The outcome was that Italians were 51% pro and 49% against.

    Then there was a referendum in 2011: 95%+ said no to nuclear power. An avalanche.

    I usually take any poll with a grain of salt. For surveys on this subject a recommend a spoonful.

  51. J.G.Harston Silver badge

    No need to rely on dirty coal as an alternative to nuclear, use clean coal technology instead,

    1. Andydaws

      What do you mean by "clean coal"?

      Do you mean something like Flue-Gas Desulphirisation - fitted to a few, but not many of our old coal plants. In which case, it fails in terms of doing nothing to abate CO2, or the loss of radon into the flue gas, or uranium and other radioactives into the fly-ash.

      If you mean something like an amine Carbon capture system, as is due to be trialled at Longannet, then that can onoly stop about half the CO2 production, at the cost of a £billion or so per station, and decreasing fuel efficiency by about 10%. And it still lets the radiation sources go into the atmosphere or the flue gas.

      If you mean something like a Integrated Gasification System, you're talking about something with about the same capital cost as a nuclear station, which burns between 40% and 60% more fuel that a conventional coal plant of the same size, and hence puts even MORE radon, urnaium and so on into the atmosphere.

      Take your pick.

  52. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    "rational British attitude towards nuclear issues"

    "more rational British attitude towards nuclear issues (than e.g. Germany)"

    On the other hand, one could point out that Germany in general has a better technically educated, and arguably a better informed (through their not-just-tabloid not-just-celeb-obsessed media), general public than we have here in marginally numerate celeb-obsessed Blighty.

    But that wouldn't suit your case, so I won't.

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