Why Technical English

Nuclear power revival | September 30, 2009

Compiled by Galina Vitkova

Discussing this precarious issue we study Technical English!

People need to be persuaded in safety of NPPs (Nucler Power Plants) in order to be convinced that all plants, worldwide, are safe.

New conditions

  • Warming of our planet. Finally, governments worried about climate changes and energy security have noticed that nuclear plants emit no carbon dioxide. Moreover, the raw material for their fuel, uranium ore, can be provided by reputable and reliable suppliers.

  • Ricing of oil and gas prices. The recent jump in oil and gas prices, has compeled many governments to reappraise their opinion about nuclear power. In February of this year Italy and Sweden announced plans to start building nuclear plants again. Most of the 40 or so plants now under construction are in Asia (many in China) or Russia. Furthermore, countries in Latin America, the Middle East and Africa are also either building or planning reactors. Turkey, the United Arab Emirates, Indonesia and Belarus are intending to erect their first reactors.

  • Raising to higher level nuclear plants safety. WANO – the World Association of Nuclear Operators has been monitoring safety at nuclear plants for 20 years. IAEA – the International Atomic Energy Agency has developed safety rules, which are voluntary till now. The agency’s experts are invited in to look at nuclear reactors around the world. But governments decide which plants to show, and when.So, last year in November the European Commission proposed making the IAEA’s safety rules obligatory within the European Union. It hopes other regional blocks, such as those of South-East Asia and South America, will follow suit. WANO is considering making their peer review compulsory for each new plant opened by one of its members.

Declining resistence against NPPs

Due to increasing NPPs safety the nuclear industry has had a better safety reputation since Chernobyl. The design and monitoring of many reactors has significantly improved. Even though plenty safety incidents have occured, no big accidents resulting in deaths have happened.

Yet public fears about the safety of nuclear power could still divert its revival. In many countries, majorities oppose building new reactors. People are afraid nuclear accidents, terrorist attacks, the long-term risks of storing radioactive waste and possible divertion of nuclear fuel being to make weapons.

Concern about climate change has softened opposition a little. According to a survey by the European Commission last year, 44% of people in the European Union now broadly support nuclear energy, up from 37% in 2005; and 45% oppose it, down from 55%. In America, about 80% of Americans think that nuclear power will be “an important future source of energy”.

A new reactor being built at Olkiluoto in Finland is one of only two under construction in western Europe. The Finnish government gave the local community a large say in choosing the site of a radioactive-waste depository at Olkiluoto. Switzerland and Canada have taken a similarly democratic approach to nuclear power.

This is a welcome contrast to the secrecy that characterised much of the nuclear industry’s interaction with the public in the past. In some countries that secrecy comes from the military uses of nuclear fission.

Prospects for nuclear power future

The extent to which public opposition can block or reverse the building of new nuclear plants will vary between countries. In any case such plants need “a solid political and social base” in order to survive changes of governments. The simplest way how to get permission for building new reactors is to erect them at existing nuclear sites, e.g. in America, 14 of the 21 applications to start building are for existing sites. Germany faces disputatious energy choices. The fate of its 17 nuclear power plants, which provide almost a quarter of the country’s electricity, is the main point of the discussion. Any renewables are not able to replace electricity generated by these nuclear plants.

Developing-country governments are less likely to care whether the public support of nuclear power. China has 11 nuclear-power reactors already and plans another 20. Companies from the rich world – such as France’s Areva and America’s GE – will find it far easier to build nuclear power plants in the developing countries than at home. Nonetheless, steps must be taken to ensure that less-developed nations run their reactors safely. Last year France created an agency to help newcomers design nuclear laws and set up independent regulators. Unfortunately, there is an irresistible shortage of qualified nuclear engineers, after the three-decade pause in building new plants (see also Are you afraid of nuclear energy?). Actual information about Nuclear Power Plants has just been published on  Statistics on nuclear power. Enjoy reading it.

Reference: Wikipedia http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/, http://www.economist.com/research/articlesBySubject


1 Comment »

  1. […] Nuclear power revival […]

    Pingback by Changing the theme of this blog « Why Technical English — August 26, 2010 @ 9:27 am

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