Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Nuclear Power - Seen and Unseen - Part 2

Smoke rising from Reactor 3 Fukushima

The massive clean-up in North-Eastern Japan is just beginning. It is one thing to have a 9.0 earthquake and tsunami that are both natural and unpredictable events, but that disaster was compounded by a man-made event, that might have been preventable; the nuclear disaster at Fukushima. There is lots of blame to go around, but it is too early to start.

The after quake clean-up is literally happening under a (radioactive) cloud. No one is liable for the natural events, they come with the territory, with Japan, but who is responsible for the nuclear mess? Is it TEPCO, are they responsible? Of course they are. But they already have huge debt, minimal insurance coverage, and they may be responsible for paying off farmers in the area around the plant. They may also default and not meet any of their obligations. Ultimately like in every other country that has nuclear power plants, the government (taxpayers) hold the greatest liability.

Thus it is the nature of nuclear power that makes it very unlikely to exist in totally free markets. Who would insure a nuclear power station? How long would the contract last? What happens to nuclear reactors when their useful lifespan is over, still insured? Who would be liable for the waste generated by the plants, waste products that have half-lives of tens-of-thousands-of-years? These are real problems that would make contracts, voluntary agreements among free-trading individuals and corporations, unrealistic. 
If you think nuclear power is a good idea, safe and economical, then you are deluded. You must believe governments have the right to force people and their children and their children's children and so on, to accept the liability for these things forever, or tens-of-thousands of years, whichever comes first. What choice do those future generations have? None! Don't believe me? If you are Canadian go look at the "Nuclear Liability Act," which limits power plants to $75 million of liability for any one incident (see Section 31 of the Act). Imagine a class-action suit on behalf of 5 million people exposed to radiation, that would bring a whopping $15 each! Who pays for the rest? Taxpayers do. Of course that is the unseen and unseemly part of nuclear power, there were no voluntary agreements entered in to, it is simple coercion. In whose interests has this law been written? Does it protect the rights of Canadians like laws are supposed to?
If you are American, check out the Price-Anderson Act, same idea different country. In fact such laws exist in all countries where nuclear liability is a concern.
Think about this next time you switch on the lights, and realize that there are other options that may not be acceptable by the standards of present day green environmentalists, but the other options are better than freezing in the dark.

Below is a video where Stefan Molyneux brings you True News about nuclear power.


  1. The problem is that there are risks and benefits with every sort of power plant. You have to compare nuclear to those other sources of power before deciding it's so horrible. Also, what do you think about thorium power?

  2. There are risks and benefits in all aspects of life. Farming often requires clearing forests and destroying habitats, but the benefits for the farmers and families are enormous. Nuclear power as I suggest would not exist without government coercion. Any form of energy production where the producers and consumers can agree to contracts that are voluntarily entered into works for me. That even includes green energy - but who would want to pay those high prices? Some might, thats fine. As for thorium fuel a less dangerous alpha emitter, but it too has issues. I know it can be used in Canadian reactors right now, is easier/safer to work with than U or Pu - and there is less chance of a Chernobyl-type disaster. I would like to see Canadian reactors adopt it - as they phase out. I think clean-coal and nat. gas along with hydro are best, most ethical choices.