Nuclear Europe?

We wrote earlier about how concern over climate change may lead to a nuclear-power revival in the U.S., despite longtime opposition and fear on many fronts.

The issue is unfolding similarly in Europe. Here’s a fascinating short article from Spiegel, via BusinessWeek:

Italy on Thursday said it would join a growing number of European countries returning to nuclear power in the face of rising energy prices and concerns about climate change. In a referendum in 1987, Italians voted to ban nuclear power and deactivate the country’s reactors. But now the country says it wants to start building nuclear power plants again before the end of Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi‘s term, with the first construction scheduled to begin by 2013.

The article cites Giuseppe Onufio, director of Greenpeace Italy, calling this announcement a “declaration of war.” Interestingly, the U.S. nuclear movement has gotten a big boost from the conversation of Patrick Moore, a co-founder of Greenpeace International, who used to oppose nuclear power but is now an ardent advocate.

The Spiegel article also has an interesting take on Germany’s nuclear position:

Speaking on Thursday at a national Catholic conference in the city of Osnabrück, Merkel said Germany’s plan to abandon nuclear power “didn’t make sense,” especially as a country “with the safest nuclear power plants.” She said the country would be making a “laughing stock” of itself if it abandoned the production of nuclear power for the sake of a good conscience only to turn around and import nuclear energy from other countries.

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  1. LZ says:

    Instead of nuclear power, we can generate all of our electricity needs using the hot air from Greenpeace advocates, and the grave-spinning energy from dead earlier environment-lovers.

    A true environmentalist would see that we could easily have replaced all of our coal and gas-fired power plants for the past thirty years with nuclear power, with no global warming, no sulfuric acid rain, and zero coal mining deaths.

    And the radioactive waste can simply be put back where the radioactive uranium was mined from in the first place.

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  2. griff says:

    We in the UK would feel happier about new nuclear plants if there had been any solution to the storage of nuclear waste from our existing plants.

    It is all still sitting in decaying temporary storage around existing plants. Our sole waste reprocessing centre has a history of leaks.

    Add to this the need to dispose of the radioactive rubble of our decommisioned plants, now beyond active use – the real, huge cost of decommisioning plants at the end of their life is only now becoming apparent.

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  3. Jim Riccio says:

    The New York Times seems to be repeating its mistakes. When Moore & Whitman made their pro nuclear debut,the NY Times and others failed to properly identify them as a front group for the nuclear industry.

    The Columbia Journalism Review took the press to task stating that, “Part of the thinking, surely, was that the press would peg them as dedicated environmentalists who have turned into pro-nuke cheerleaders, rather than as paid spokespeople.
    And the press came through.”

    While it may make more compelling copy to portray Moore as “an ardent advocate,” it is inaccurate and the public expects more of the New York Times.

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  4. Prof. S. says:

    As someone who was born on the day that Three Mile Island occurred, I reject any claim that it happened 30 years ago. It clearly happened – and, if anyone asks, shall ALWAYS have happened – no more than 29 years ago.

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  5. Patrick says:

    Paul wrote: “Next we’ll find some horrible consequence of using solar power.”

    I’ve got one for you…

    “The manufacturing of solar photo voltaic panels requres highly toxic, heavy metals, gases and solvents that are carcinogens. If a residential fire burned a house’s solar panels, people would be at risk for exposure to toxic vapors and smoke. When these panels are decommisioned after 20-30 years of use, they must be disposed of in special toxic waste dumps.”

    That quotes from Power to Save the World by Gweneth Cravens

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  6. Carl says:

    My Father was a nuclear engineer in the sixties. At that time the permiting process for a proposed US plant was twenty years long. If we’re looking for an energy solution, we better start now.

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  7. MITBeta says:

    Smart: Your username and post are both ironic — or perhaps simply sad. How can we hope to overcome so many of the world’s problems when there are people such as yourself with the attention span of a 3 year old?

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  8. Matthew R. says:

    I have always been puzzled as to why the average environmentalist has so passionately opposed nuclear power. The problem of nuclear waste is indeed real, but in terms of the larger issue of power generation it isn’t a “new” problem — meaning that we’ve ALREADY got a problem with waste from power generation, and it’s a far bigger problem in terms of volume. I would think it better to have a (comparatively) small volume of highly toxic waste in one place than to have trillions of cubic feet of fumes pouring out constantly from every smokestack all over the world. Yes, nuclear energy will not instantly solve all problems known to mankind. It can, however, make a signficant improvement in a number of them (e.g., carbon emissions, dependency on foreign oil), and that makes it worth pursuing. Don’t like nuke power? Then tell me a power generation strategy that do better.

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