Nuclear Power at Interesting09

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This weekend I attended Interesting, a series of talks organised by Russell Davies for the (mostly) marketing crowd about the non-marketing stuff. As a result, Saturday morning session turned out to be a good cocktail of the fairly obscure,  the geeky and the occasionally controversial. One of my favourite talks was by Alby Reid, who spoke on the common misconceptions about nuclear power. His session’s flow was neatly divided into the questions that most people’s heads bark back with as soon as they hear about nuclear power.

Here are some bits of his talk:

Good morning. My name is Alby Reid, I’m a physics teacher and I think nuclear power is Interesting. Today I’m going to try and convince you that nuclear power is – by far – the best solution to the problems posed by anthropogenic greenhouse gas emissions and that it’s clean, safe and reliable too.

It’s impossible for “another Chernobyl” to occur. The reason that the explosion at Chernobyl was so significant is that Chernobyl didn’t have a containment dome and this meant that the explosion that occurred wasn’t contained. Nobody builds reactors without containment domes any more.

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So what about the waste?

Both statements are true: nuclear power stations do produce thousands of tons of nuclear waste. Nuclear waste is dangerous for thousands of years. But somewhere in the middle Greenpeace and Friends of the Earth have pulled a classic bait and switch.

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The thousands of tons of waste includes all grades of waste, including low level waste made up of things like lab coats and air filters that must, by law, be classified as nuclear waste and disposed of securely.

But the waste that’s dangerous for thousands of years is only the high-level stuff.

The topic of nuclear power is one of the intriguing ones and I would like to know more about it and its correlation to solving the energy problems that might be hard to address with green energy solutions. Alby Reid’s talk, which you can read more of at his site, was an interesting insight into trying to solve the usually hushed issue of energy crisis we might be facing sooner than we think.

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