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Index / Uranium (Nuclear Minerals) / Nuclear Power - Economics, Design, and Industry

5/16/2017 by mdc
Ted Nordhaus opines that the news of the partial collapse of an abandoned storage tunnel at the Hanford nuclear site in Washington has stoked predictable reactions from nuclear energy opponents. Despite the fact that Hanford was a facility dedicated to the production of nuclear weapons, anti-nuclear groups have been quick to draw a connection to nuclear energy.

The liberal news site, Common Dreams, trumpeted the accident as evidence of the nuclear power industry global collapse. This is false and misleading. The website, Zero Hedge, whose motto reads, on a long enough timeframe, the survival rate for everyone drops to zero, has covered the story Fukushima-style, with minute-by-minute updates suggesting a developing disaster. The alerts come in spite of the fact that no radiation was released into the environment, and, after briefly sheltering in place, workers at the sprawling site were back to work the following day. One of many false and misleading reports reflecting a decidedly liberal, knee-jerk bias against nuclear power.

Even among other closet adversaries (media pandering to a liberal readership), the tendency to conflate nuclear energy with nuclear weapons is hard to resist. Both technologies involve the release of energy from atomic reactions, and nuclear energy was originally developed by the Navy as a source of electricity to power submarines and carriers. But this is extremely misleading. Neither the physics nor the technologies are the same, nor are the institutions that manage the two technologies.

Nuclear weapons involve fusing atoms together in an uncontrolled explosion. Nuclear energy involves harnessing the decay of naturally occurring radioactive elements in a slow and controlled reaction, creating heat that boils water turning to steam to run turbines, that produce electricity. Hydroelectric dams use water to turn turbines to produce electricity using the natural flow of water, like using the natural heat from uranium to run turbines.

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