Archives for nuclear power



What Happens Next as the World Turns Away From Nuclear Power? A Freakonomics Quorum

A few years ago, we wrote a column (related material here) about the unintended consequences of Jane Fonda — that is, how anti-nuclear-power activism as epitomized by Fonda’s character in the nuclear thriller The China Syndrome helped halt the growth of nuclear power in the U.S. The timing of the film couldn’t have been better: 12 days after its release, an accident at the Three Mile Island nuclear plant in Pennsylvania spooked the nation into Fonda’s arms — even though, in retrospect, that accident was far less serious than initially thought.

Many other countries, in the meantime, embraced nuclear power. But if you thought the China Syndrome/Three Mile Island combo was devastating to a nuclear future, consider the aftermath of the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear disaster in Japan. On May 11, Japan announced that it was shelving plans to scale up its nuclear energy capacity. Two weeks later, Germany announced plans to end all nuclear power generation by 2022. The Swiss have vowed to end nuclear power by 2034; and the Italians voted down plans to restart the country’s nuclear power program. Read More »



Japan’s Nuclear Worry Produces, Among Other Reactions, a Salt-Buying Panic in China

The Three Mile Island nuclear-power accident in 1979 coincided almost perfectly with the release of The China Syndrome, a Hollywood film about a nuclear meltdown. As we once wrote, this pairing helped gel American sentiment against nuclear power. Several other nations, meanwhile, kept on building nuclear-power plants, Japan among the leaders. Now, how will the […] Read More »



Would a New Class of Nuclear Reactors Have Withstood the Tsunami?

As dangerous levels of radiation thwart emergency work at Japan’s damaged Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Station, Japanese military fire trucks have reportedly resorted to spraying spent fuel rods with water in an effort to cool them. Read More »



A Nuclear President?

Three Mile Island, Control Room 1. Well, someone has come right out and said it: “Sen. John McCain called Wednesday for the construction of 45 new nuclear reactors by 2030.” That’s according to an A.P. article by David Espo, well worth reading in its entirety. We have written quite a few times about the likelihood […] Read More »



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 […] Read More »



Why Did the Price of Uranium Skyrocket?

Between 2004 and 2007, the spot price of uranium more than quadrupled, reaching more than $140 before falling off sharply in the past several months to less than $80. Why was there such a huge spike in price? One reason is because there’s been an increased demand from nuclear power plants around the world, as […] Read More »



Slashing the Atom

If the nuclear power industry is headed into a renaissance, it’s going to need the help of a renowned Japanese samurai sword maker. It turns out Japan Steel Works Ltd., in addition to hand-forging swords, also has a near-total monopoly on the manufacture of the steel containment vessels for nuclear reactors. But making the vessels […] Read More »



The FREAK-est Links

Vermont may drop D.M.V. fee for organ donors (Earlier) Friends of nuclear power (Earlier) (Earlier) How do food stamps affect obesity? (Earlier) Economists predict where top recruits will play Read More »