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German Parliament Backs Nuclear Exit By 2022

Soulskill posted about 3 years ago | from the figurative-meltdowns-do-more-damage dept.

Power 364

fysdt sends this quote from an AFP report: "The German parliament sealed plans Friday to phase out nuclear energy by 2022, making the country the first major industrial power to take the step in the wake of the disaster at Japan's Fukushima plant. The nuclear exit scheme cleared its final hurdle in the Bundesrat upper house, which represents the 16 regional states, after the legislation passed the Bundestag lower house with an overwhelming majority last week. Germany's seven oldest reactors were already switched off after Japan's massive March 11 earthquake and tsunami knocked out cooling systems at the Fukushima Daiichi plant, causing reactors to overheat and radiation to leak. A further reactor has been shut for years because of technical problems."

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364 comments

What About Africa's Nuclear Technology? (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#36695928)

Oh wait nevermind. Those primitive spear-chuckers never invented any.

So when are... (2, Insightful)

Darkon (206829) | about 3 years ago | (#36695936)

...we going to see an earthquate and tsunami in Germany to justify this fearmongering?

Just wait till China is invading Kazakhstan (1)

Colin Smith (2679) | about 3 years ago | (#36696088)

importing your energy resources from the other side of the world is not the greatest idea in the world.

Re:Just wait till China is invading Kazakhstan (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#36696546)

importing your nuclear energy from across your border with France is, however, brilliant.

Re:Just wait till China is invading Kazakhstan (1)

Reece400 (584378) | about 3 years ago | (#36696820)

Except if one of France's nukes has a serious melt down - Germany will still suffer (albeit not as badly)

Re:So when are... (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#36696740)

For those crappy old plants you do not need an earthquake. Snow in winter or Vattenfall management just suffice. In Germany it is not only the plants, it is also the nuclear waste problem. They do not know where to put it.

Safer alternative designs? (2)

alanshot (541117) | about 3 years ago | (#36695968)

Prior to the disaster I had heard of improved reactor designs that supposedly could not melt down.
Anyone know if these designs are limited to the small scale versions (the size of a semi trailer) Toshiba has designed, or can they be scaled up?

Re:Safer alternative designs? (1)

betterunixthanunix (980855) | about 3 years ago | (#36696152)

There are CANDU reactors, which are resilient to meltdown conditions (the fuel is positioned for optimal reactivity, and changes in that positioning e.g. the beginning of a meltdown reduce the reaction rate) and which can also accept Thorium as fuel (which is more abundant than Uranium and which is less useful for nuclear weapons). Newer designs, however, are even better; for example, pebble beds (which are not yet deployed afaik) do not require an active cooling system to prevent a meltdown, and so even a catastrophic event will not become a disaster.

Re:Safer alternative designs? (5, Informative)

Annirak (181684) | about 3 years ago | (#36696264)

The fundamental principle of the CANDU reactor design is the use of heavy water as a neutron moderator. Because water vaporizes at low temperatures, the reactor has a negative void coefficient, which means that overheating the reactor causes it to be inefficient at slowing neutrons, which reduces the reaction rate. This means that the CANDU reactor has an inherent negative feedback system and will effectively shut itself down if it overheats. This is not a control system, which can fail, this is a, quite literally, fail-safe design. If you crack the containment vessel and leak all the heavy water out, the reactor will shut down.

Re:Safer alternative designs? (2)

Rising Ape (1620461) | about 3 years ago | (#36696510)

The CANDU has a positive void coefficient, though not as large as the pre-Chernobyl RBMKs. This is largely a consequence of being overmoderated to allow it to run on natural uranium, so loss of coolant doesn't lead to significant loss of moderation.

Re:Safer alternative designs? (1)

Amouth (879122) | about 3 years ago | (#36696634)

i must be confused - but i thought you needed to slow/absorb the neutrons to reduce the reaction rate - wouldn't removing the moderator/inhibitor increase reaction?

Re:Safer alternative designs? (2)

bdcrazy (817679) | about 3 years ago | (#36696720)

Fast neutrons don't initiate fission as well as slowed neutrons. Removing the slow ones limit the reaction rates.

Re:Safer alternative designs? (1)

Amouth (879122) | about 3 years ago | (#36696986)

thanks.. that's counter intuitive to me but then again i never studied it :)

you think of it as splitting an atom - you would think hitting it with more energy is better but i see now how it is the after affect of being heaver (after absorbing the slower) that causes the split.. oddly to me it seems an organic style process

thanks

Re:Safer alternative designs? (2, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#36696846)

Nuclear Operator at a CANDU station here...
The increase in reactivity due to voiding in the CANDU is due to many factors but one of the causes is due to the interactions of faster than thermal neutrons at the resonance absorption frequency of U238.

The positive void is dealt with by having a safety shutdown system that can respond in less than 2 seconds.

Also, voiding tends to add about 4-6mk.
Source:

http://www.unene.ca/un802-2005/ben/candu_void_reactivity.pdf

Re:Safer alternative designs? (2, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#36696946)

Also I forgot to mention that slow neutrons cause fission (a few exceptions exist). Thus the point of having a moderator.

Even if the reactivity drops to near 0, we still need to deal with decay heat. I heard something like one reactor at full power is as powerful as fifty 747's with their engines at full throttle. The same reactor when shutdown produces enough decay heat equivalent to one engine from a 747.

Re:Safer alternative designs? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#36696456)

The few pebble-bed reactors out there have had significant problems. In fact, the best known of them was in Germany [wikipedia.org] and didn't do so well at all. While more expensive than the various conventional pressurized water reactors, a least the CANDU design has the benefit of being deployed world-wide with years of successful commercial operation. Pebble-bed has potential, but it can best be regarded as still experimental.

Re:Safer alternative designs? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#36696172)

could not melt down

Jesus, have they never heard of WestWorld, "... Where nothing can possibly go worng" ?

Re:Safer alternative designs? (1)

Joce640k (829181) | about 3 years ago | (#36696344)

It makes no difference when you live in a land ruled by greens.

You really have to visit Germany to see the scale to which they apply the "green" mentality. I'm not saying it's all bad (in fact some of it is very good) but some things need a bit of effort to fully understand the pros and cons. Nuclear energy is one of those things - very easy to dismiss out of hand but the only sane choice if done right, ie. a difficult thing to sell to the common man.

Ironically enough, Germany is one of the few countries I'd trust to do it right. Everything they build there is done with one eye on quality of life, longevity and how it will effect future generations.

Re:Safer alternative designs? (4, Insightful)

AGMW (594303) | about 3 years ago | (#36696426)

It makes no difference when you live in a land ruled by greens.

Well, if Germany wants to go down that route to be Green then so be it, but they should also enshrine in law some massive (punitive) tax on any energy they import from technologies they abandoned, otherwise surely they're just encouraging other countries to be un-green to meet Germany's energy shortfall!

Re:Safer alternative designs? (1)

dgatwood (11270) | about 3 years ago | (#36696870)

There's something ironic about calling any country "green" when such a high percentage of people burn sticks of paper and tobacco for their own entertainment. And that definitely isn't done with one eye on longevity. Just saying.

Re:Safer alternative designs? (4, Insightful)

Andy Dodd (701) | about 3 years ago | (#36696908)

I'm not sure if any power generation reactor can be 100% resistant to meltdown.

However, modern reactor designs ARE much more resilient and in fact nearly every failure mode encountered at Fukushima has already been addressed in them.

For example, the latest generation BWR (ESBWR) uses heatpipes to pools on the reactor building roof to provide passive core cooling. No intervention is needed for 72 hours, after that all you need is a fire truck to refill the pools. (no special generators, etc.) The next refill will likely be significantly later since decay heat is significantly less after 72 hours. Since these pools are fully isolated from radioactive materials, they're a lot easier to top off than the SFPs at Fukushima.

Modern reactor buildings have catalytic hydrogen recombiners that prevent hydrogen buildup, eliminating the explosions that have made management and cleanup MUCH more difficult.

Obviously SFP management needs to be revisited - I think it simply didn't get the attention it needed, but none of the SFP thermal management issues are insurmountable or even difficult to solve. Most of the SFPs are only dissipating about as much power as a tractor-trailer engine, with Unit 4 being the exception. (That pool is rather overloaded with a full reactor load of freshly spent fuel. Lesson learned - don't pack pools so densely with fuel.)

Re:Safer alternative designs? (4, Informative)

cbarcus (600114) | about 3 years ago | (#36696960)

Yeah, there's a couple, but I think the best design is the Liquid Flouride Thorium Reactor (Molten Salt Reactor)- it's super efficient, inherently safe, affordable, scalable, and very flexible. It's potentially so cost-efficient that we could synthesize carbon-neutral fuels for all of our transportation needs, and definitely for less than $2/gal (and longer term, significantly less than that). The high operating temperatures mean that water cooling would not be required, so it safeguards our shorelines, rivers, and aquifers. This isn't a theoretical design, as it has already been shown to be feasible by a prototype built in the 60s (the program was shut down in the 70s because it competed with the uranium/plutonium fuel cycle, and it didn't easily produce plutonium for weapons). Really, this is amazing technology for which I believe the "Green Nuclear" label is very appropriate, and the anti-nuclear movement ought to take a very close look at this.

In fact, "farming" energy through renewables is a terrible choice by comparison, and will not be able to generate the cheap energy we need in order to sequester the CO2 that threatens Civilization and end the water shortage (via desalination). China already announced this year that they are pursuing this technology (something the US pioneered the development of), so nearly everyone else in the developed world is lagging in the Thorium Race. I guess after another decade or so of suffering, we'll just go further in debt as we try to buy Chinese-made LFTRs.

This could be our greatest moment, commercializing perhaps the greatest machine ever conceived, ending our economic problems, revitalizing our manufacturing base, ending poverty- so much is possible with cheap energy. Are we instead going to go the way of the Amish, shunning such potential out of fear and ignorance?

Hey Germany.... (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#36695970)

Hey Germany- you buy much of your electricity from France...they have nuclear reactors- are building more, and are right next to you. Good luck with this experiment in futility. You're probably going to kill more people in the long run with such knee jerk reactions.

Re:Hey Germany.... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#36696008)

Actually Germany *exports* some of its energy even *after* shutting the nuclear reactors down...

Re:Hey Germany.... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#36696128)

It's not shut its reactors yet, so you're either a fortune teller or you're taking a guess at what the country's energy needs will be in the future (much like Germany's government are doing).

Re:Hey Germany.... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#36696278)

Half of the reactors are already shut down and currently exported energy exceeds the production of the remaining reactors. So this is based on current energy consumption of the last months.

Re:Hey Germany.... (2)

localman57 (1340533) | about 3 years ago | (#36696320)

Hey Germany- you buy much of your electricity from France

Actually Germany *exports* some of its energy even *after* shutting the nuclear reactors down...

Since neither of you AC's posted a citation, I'm going to make up my own facts too.

Actually, Germany and France both create a surplus of electricity, and think they're selling it to each other, but since they never figured out how to sync up their generation frequency/phase, all the power just gets turned into heat where the wires connect. Enron sold them the transmission system in 1998.

Re:Hey Germany.... (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#36696584)

It's all synced: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/UCTE
And for the exporting statistics, just an example: http://www.wwf.de/fileadmin/fm-wwf/pdf_neu/Oeko-Institut_KKW-Ausstieg.pdf

Re:Hey Germany.... (1)

F-3582 (996772) | about 3 years ago | (#36696146)

At the moment there is a project involving an under-sea cable to Norway which produces 99% of their electricity from renewable sources. Unfortunately this project is being hindered by some stupid bureaucracy (involving some awkward definitions...never mind) and the oligopoly of four big power corporations owning the net.

And there are lots of projects done by local authorities and smaller companies, for example using CHP in district heating plants or in your own basement, just to name a few examples.

So, it looks like Germany won't have to import that much of its energy, once the oney formerly being used for nuclear subsidies is being put into good use.

Re:Hey Germany.... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#36696506)

What a good thing that just today, the French government started thinking aloud about the nuclear exit [reuters.com] .

Re:Hey Germany.... (3, Insightful)

prefec2 (875483) | about 3 years ago | (#36696934)

Hey France we where exporting more energy to other countries including your country. Now we will sell you less energy. Especially in summer that is a problem for you when the nuclear plants cannot produce peak output because of the water shortage.

But I bet that this comment of yours is not from France at all. I know French people they are neither jerks nor stupid. And yes it is stupid to claim that Germany was importing more energy than it is exporting. And we will see next year if Germany has a positive or negative balance.

What does it have to do with Japan... (0, Troll)

magarity (164372) | about 3 years ago | (#36695978)

Do they have a lot of problems with tsunamis in Germany?

Re:What does it have to do with Japan... (1, Insightful)

nedlohs (1335013) | about 3 years ago | (#36696092)

Some people are smart enough to realise that while the earthquake/tsunami was the initial cause the same end result could occur via some other event causing cooling failure at a nuke plant.

Completely junking nuke plants seems a rather short sighted reaction, but what it has to do with Japan is obvious to anyone with at least 3 brain cells.

Re:What does it have to do with Japan... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#36696224)

Some people are smart enough to realise that while the earthquake/tsunami was the initial cause the same end result could occur via some other event causing cooling failure at a nuke plant.

Completely junking nuke plants seems a rather short sighted reaction, but what it has to do with Japan is obvious to anyone with at least 3 brain cells.

And it is obvious to anyone with at least 4 brain cells that "Do they have a lot of problems with tsunamis in Germany?" was meant half jokingly as a commentary on how stupid the German government is being.

But I personally don't think they are being stupid, far worse, fear and scarcity are valuable government tools. By using the fear that was created by the nuclear meltdown in Japan the German government will be creating an artificial scarcity of electric power with a fairly predictable effect on economic output. Masking what the government must think is going to be a period of economic stagnation anyway, because of reduced exports to America... and instead being able to blame a reduction in GDP on scarcity created by the nation's shift away from nuclear towards a "safer" and "greener" economy.

Re:What does it have to do with Japan... (1)

delinear (991444) | about 3 years ago | (#36696228)

A record earthquake followed by a tsunami would junk most buildings - more people died in their offices than as a direct result of Fukushima. By the same logic the German government is applying here we should tear down office blocks because some other event could conceivably cause them to fall down (and again, more office blocks have fallen down than nuclear plants have melted down).

Re:What does it have to do with Japan... (1)

nedlohs (1335013) | about 3 years ago | (#36696362)

No, because collapsed office blocks don't spew radioactive material into the environment.

Dead people are irrelevant. Living people scared of evil magical radiation are what matters.

Re:What does it have to do with Japan... (4, Insightful)

KovaaK (1347019) | about 3 years ago | (#36696690)

A man has a pool in his back yard, but the neighborhood kids keep sneaking in at night and peeing in it. The man decides to expand his house around the pool and hire a small squad of 24/7 security personnel for $250,000/year. While the man is at work, a very dedicated psycopath with explosives and automatic weapons takes out the man's on-shift security team, kills his wife, rapes his kids, and pees in his pool. The man's neighbor (Germany) hears about all of this and says "good god, I'm getting rid of my pool now, it's just too dangerous."

Some people are smart enough to realise that while the earthquake/tsunami was the initial cause the same end result could occur via some other event causing cooling failure at a nuke plant.

I disagree. I'd say that some people are smart enough to realise that while the damage to the nuclear plants in Japan was unfortunate, it was a casualty of the earthquake/tsunami, not the tragedy itself. Nuclear plants may not be perfect, and they can cause a small amount of harm in incredible circumstances. Things like record-breaking earthquake+tsunamis, acts of war between advanced nations, meteors falling in unfortunate locations... these kinds of incredible circumstances are far worse for the populace than the anything nuclear plants can do. Perspective is important, and the German populace and politicians seem to be lacking it right now.

Re:What does it have to do with Japan... (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#36696976)

There are people who would say that Fukushima is the result of incompetent management, complete disregard for security, letting a company with a tradition of lying about security continue to operate nuclear power plants and similar failures that all have happened in Germany already.
And mostly it is a way to avoid discussing the nuclear waste, where the only "suitable" place they found for it is leaking it so they must all get it up again except they realize the way they packaged it it's going to cost them a huge amount of money.
Plus Germany doesn't even have any installations to recycle the waste so even for that they have to ship it a long way with a lot of political and practical issues. And huge costs, which btw. the tax payers pay, just like they did for the nuclear reactors, and the storage/recovery of the wast and basically anything else. Which is why nuclear energy is "cheap", it's pre-paid with insane amounts from tax money.
I admit I am not convinced it isn't silly to quit, particularly in such a haste, but on the other hand it doesn't seem silly enough that you can't take the risk of trying. Particularly when you can be quite certain that France will have nuclear power you can fall back to in the worst case (thanks to insanities like electric heating France can't that easily switch away no matter what).
Kind of a bit of a risk of losing but also good chance of winning a lot by it.

Re:What does it have to do with Japan... (1)

F-3582 (996772) | about 3 years ago | (#36696162)

No, but we also have occasional earthquakes. Oh, and the Fukushima meltdown had started before the tsunami hit.

Re:What does it have to do with Japan... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#36696376)

Oh, and the Fukushima meltdown had started before the tsunami hit.

Citation needed.

Re:What does it have to do with Japan... (1)

Tsingi (870990) | about 3 years ago | (#36696832)

Oh, and the Fukushima meltdown had started before the tsunami hit.

Citation needed.

An AC looking for a citation. Look it up yourself.

Here's a power plant in California on top of a fault line, and close to another one. There are lots of them, look them up yourself.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Diablo_Canyon_Power_Plant [wikipedia.org]

Re:What does it have to do with Japan... (1)

Verunks (1000826) | about 3 years ago | (#36696314)

Do they have a lot of problems with tsunamis in Germany?

yes the one that will hit the government if they don't do something to please the people

Re:What does it have to do with Japan... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#36697002)

I kid you not, they are not using hydropower as the reason why we cannot have nuclear plants at certain sites. As a break in a hydro plant could cause tsunami like effects. Funny when you consider that hydro as an overall industry has by itself killed far more people then the nuclear one has, so why are we stopping the nuclear plants due to the hydro's possible failure instead of using only nuclear?

Nuclear Exit in my pants (1)

slashpot (11017) | about 3 years ago | (#36695984)

I have a nuclear exit in my pants.

Oh you guys... (1)

rplst8 (828331) | about 3 years ago | (#36696022)

Quit posting news from the Onion. Oh, wait. Germany did what?!!

The Dog (0, Offtopic)

Jodka (520060) | about 3 years ago | (#36696054)

A dog is walking along a street. A car comes racing down the street, hits the dog, and throws it 30 feet. The dog impacts against a phone pole. It survives and learns its lesson: It never goes near that phone pole again.

Re:The Dog (2)

elsurexiste (1758620) | about 3 years ago | (#36696464)

Wat.

The problem was in the plants' design. If you don't want to modify your existing facilities or build redesigned ones, and would rather invest that money in wind & solar or just buy energy from another country that will update its nuclear power plants, then sure, it's reasonable to phase them out in ten years.

Coal (2)

betterunixthanunix (980855) | about 3 years ago | (#36696078)

...because coal is so much better? From TFA:

building new coal and gas power plants

So, instead of nuclear energy -- which has killed only a handful of people over the past few decades -- they would rather have coal, which has killed at least hundreds of thousands of people in that same period of time. Never mind the long lasting environmental hazards created by coal mining and the toxins that coal fired power plants spew as part of their normal operation -- nuclear is obviously a much greater concern.

Re:Coal (1)

s122604 (1018036) | about 3 years ago | (#36696194)

My guess is that most of the plants end up being fired by natural gas..
The Kremlin and the Executives at Gazprom must simply be ecstatic..
Of course if the shale gas revolution pans out, maybe we in the US can get in on the extortion...

Re:Coal (1)

betterunixthanunix (980855) | about 3 years ago | (#36696272)

Natural gas is only somewhat better than coal, in that the emissions from a natural gas plant are a bit cleaner (we only have to worry about carbon dioxide). Natural gas mining is a dangerous business that damages the environment and can ruin towns. Uranium mining is not the most environmentally friendly industry around, but the amount of uranium that needs to be mined is much smaller than the amount of natural gas, per joule.

Re:Coal (1)

Rick2419 (2355622) | about 3 years ago | (#36696340)

I agree, Nuclear is much safer than coal where people die everyday from mining operations and many more are injured. It would be sad to see more countries eliminate their nuclear power because of the Fukushima disaster. "Officially, about 5,000 of his fellow workers died in mining accidents last year. Unofficially, nobody knows how many were killed. In the space of a single week late last year, gas explosions and accidents in four mines left nearly 100 miners dead." Read more: http://www.time.com/time/magazine/article/0,9171,1595235,00.html#ixzz1RX3hPODE [time.com]

Re:Coal (5, Informative)

The Great Pretender (975978) | about 3 years ago | (#36696488)

Nice use of selective editing.

"These include building new coal and gas power plants, although Berlin is sticking to its target of cutting greenhouse gas emissions by 40 percent by 2020 from 1990 levels, and by 80-95 percent by 2050.

It also signed off on expanding wind energy, in a bid to boost the share of the country's power needs generated by renewable energies to 35 percent by 2020 from 17 percent at present.

Germany is already far ahead of most of the world in alternative energy and this SHOULD force them to accelerate progress in the area, which will benefit all of us. The question is whether they stick to the road map.

I couldn't care less... (1)

Entropius (188861) | about 3 years ago | (#36696096)

*if* they were replacing their nuke plants with other sources of clean energy. If you knock down one source of clean energy and replace it with another one, this really affects nobody other than the folks paying the bill.

But they're not -- they're replacing them in part with coal/gas plants, according to TFA. This ought to be regarded by non-paranoid people as a step backward.

Re:I couldn't care less... (1)

delinear (991444) | about 3 years ago | (#36696238)

But they're not -- they're replacing them in part with coal/gas plants, according to TFA. This ought to be regarded by non-paranoid people as a step backward.

It is. All 12 non-paranoid people left in the human race consider it exactly that.

Re:I couldn't care less... (1)

LinksAwakener (1081617) | about 3 years ago | (#36696378)

It is. All 12 non-paranoid people left in the human race consider it exactly that.

That pretty much nails it right there. Well said.

Re:I couldn't care less... (1)

localman57 (1340533) | about 3 years ago | (#36696428)

It is. All 12 non-paranoid people left in the human race consider it exactly that.

I'm not paranoid, and I consider it exactly that. But I'm pretty sure that at least 3 of the remaining 11 are actually liars who are actually out to get me and the other 8.

Re:I couldn't care less... (1)

Andy Dodd (701) | about 3 years ago | (#36696944)

Yup. Russia and France are quite happy about this I'm sure, because it means either:
1) Germany will be buying French nuclear power
2) Germany will be buying Russian natural gas

Either way, this makes Germany dependent on other countries for energy. Not a good idea.

Regulating the regulators (5, Insightful)

Omnifarious (11933) | about 3 years ago | (#36696106)

Japan's nuclear disaster has proven to me that neither the companies responsible for nuclear power plants, nor the people responsible for ostensibly regulating them can be trusted. I think Germany's decision is absolutely correct until we can come up with a better political/organizational technology for regulating nuclear power plants.

Re:Regulating the regulators (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#36696156)

So why do they not reform the regulations instead of ceding to populist, demagogic fear-mongering and scrapping nuclear outright?

Re:Regulating the regulators (1)

Joce640k (829181) | about 3 years ago | (#36696410)

Because that won't win any votes at the next elections. Winning votes centers around listening to the knee-jerks of the common man.

Re:Regulating the regulators (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#36696494)

because doing so would be fixing the problem and not pandering to the people who elected them ?
that would mean they would lose the next election and no longer be politicians. its hard to convince anyone to do the right thing when their job depends on them doing the exact opposite.

Re:Regulating the regulators (1)

Pyrion (525584) | about 3 years ago | (#36696790)

Simple. The politicians want to keep their jobs. Reforming the system means biting the hands that feed their reelection campaigns.

Re:Regulating the regulators (1)

Omnifarious (11933) | about 3 years ago | (#36696920)

I don't think the regulations can be reformed. The regulations in place were perfectly adequate, they were just ignored.

Re:Regulating the regulators (2)

betterunixthanunix (980855) | about 3 years ago | (#36696210)

Nevermind that in the entire history of nuclear power, only a handful of people have been killed by nuclear incidents, compared with hundreds of thousands of people killed by coal over the same period of time. Let's also take the time to remember that the environment impact of coal is immediate and very real: toxic gases and heavy metals spewed by coal plants as part of their normal operation, slag piles, abandoned mines/acid mine drainage, etc. Yes, uranium mining has an environmental impact, but less uranium needs to be mined per joule of energy than coal.

Re:Regulating the regulators (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#36696500)

Yes, let's compare people killed in the accident itself, ignoring all the fallout results to a nebulous "people killed by coal". That's not even lying with statistics. Let's ignore the people displaced by the accidents too, who cares about those suckers anyway? Living near a nuclear plant, their own damn fault! Oh yeah, and let's downplay the nastiness of uranium mining and downright ignore how much sediment needs to be processed to obtain that little bit or pure metal.

Re:Regulating the regulators (2)

betterunixthanunix (980855) | about 3 years ago | (#36696604)

If we only count the people killed by nuclear accidents, we are talking in terms of what, dozens? Maybe hundreds? The number of people killed in coal mining accidents is orders of magnitude greater than the number of people killed by nuclear accidents. Sure, uranium mining is nasty...about as nasty as coal mining, and we need a lot more coal mines per joule than uranium. If you want to speak in terms of fallout (raising the number of deaths to tens of thousands) then you should speak in terms of deaths from coal emissions too (millions).

Re:Regulating the regulators (1)

Omnifarious (11933) | about 3 years ago | (#36696900)

Nevermind that in the entire history of nuclear power, only a handful of people have been killed by nuclear incidents, compared with hundreds of thousands of people killed by coal over the same period of time.

I don't care what kind of bogus statistics you quote. How can I even trust them when the industry lies so freely and easily?

All I care about is how the accident is minimized to the point of lying about it while it's happening and after it happened. It takes months for anything even close to resembling the truth to come out, and even then I don't trust it. How can I trust any of the statistics you quote when everybody involved in the industry lies through their teeth?

I want honesty and real accountability. When those are provided, I'll be happy to support nuclear power. But not until then. And by being an industry apologist, you aren't helping.

Re:Regulating the regulators (1)

Vegan Cyclist (1650427) | about 3 years ago | (#36696952)

Why is it 'either/or' with nuclear and coal?

I believe a false dichotomy is being argued here, and it's reasonable to state that there are other forms of technology BESIDES coal for energy generation, and they could very well be utilized in place of coal. (Imagine that.)

I don't have a URL handy, but Japan themselves are heralding this, and pursuing green energies.

Further, you're really underplaying the realities behind nuclear and the harm it causes. 'Human deaths' isn't the only metric.

Re:Regulating the regulators (1)

LinksAwakener (1081617) | about 3 years ago | (#36696760)

You do realize the Fukushima Daiichi plant is 40 years old, right? It was built to regulatory code in the very late 60's/early 70's. There are a lot of plants built during that time, sure, but every plant that I know of keeps up with the current safety standards and are under constant, continuous monitoring to make sure everything is safe. I fully agree that more regulation is needed in some places, but in the US and Canada at least (and I imagine the UK as well), that regulation is already in place. Why do people fear nuclear power--a form of energy that is proven to be very safe, reliable and environmentally clean (though not renewable)--but they don't say the same about coal, an industry that has an appalling number of deaths?

I don't feel nuclear energy generation is the answer long-term, as we will run out of radioactive material and places to safely store them, but compared to what the world uses currently, it is the solution we need right now and can, at a minimum, sustain us for hundreds of years until we master more renewable sources.

Re:Regulating the regulators (1)

Omnifarious (11933) | about 3 years ago | (#36697058)

You do realize the Fukushima Daiichi plant is 40 years old, right?

Yes, and I'm also aware that the plant was supposed to have been decommissioned already, per the regulatory code you cite. It just wasn't because that regulatory code was ignored for the sake of profit and convenience.

There are a lot of plants built during that time, sure, but every plant that I know of keeps up with the current safety standards and are under constant, continuous monitoring to make sure everything is safe.

And with all the lies about the state of Fukishima while it was occuring, how can I trust anything you say about these inspections? Are the inspectors on the take from the industry? Did they used to work in the industry? Are they ignoring this hairline crack or that little problem because "it'll be OK"?

I don't trust the regulators. I don't trust the industry. They both lie. How can I have any trust for any part of it when they lie?

At least I know the coal industry isn't lying to me. I know what the dangers are and I trust that people are aware. I do not trust any booster of nuclear power anymore. With so many lies, how can I? And you don't even bother to address that point at all, which tells me you don't actually care that they lie.

The danger and scope of Fukishima was consistently understated. Repeated posts by people just like you told me how many redundant safety features there were and how they now had it all under control. You all lied to me. You're probably lying to me now. I suspect a lot of you even believed yourselves when you posted the nonsense you did. The liar who believes their own lies is the most dangerous kind.

future (2)

Twinbee (767046) | about 3 years ago | (#36696150)

Common Germany, your engineering is some of the finest. Think long term and if nothing else, put money into research of "Thorium" or "Travelling Wave" reactors, the type championed by Bill Gates. Both of these are completely safe and the waste is minimal.

Re:future (2)

Andy Dodd (701) | about 3 years ago | (#36697000)

I don't think either have been proven to be completely safe... In fact I think one of the reasons thorium cycle hasn't been widely deployed is the difficulties of designing a completely safe thorium cycle reactor.

However, both DO have a lot of promise and good safety potential. But I wouldn't yet call them "completely safe".

Remember, lots of people said pebble bed reactors were completely safe. Germany has managed to disprove that...

That said, almost any modern reactor design is significantly safer than the old clunkers in operation today, especially Fukushima which has some of the oldest operating reactors on the planet.

NIMBY - Let France do it (1)

Gopal.V (532678) | about 3 years ago | (#36696154)

From what I can see, I hope the European Union survives till then (with Greece, Portugal and Ireland in it), but if it does, most of the new nuclear reactors in France would be powering the industrial complex of Germany.

In some sense, that does make a lot of sense to have a single nation throw their weight behind a tech and sort of specialize in it. On the other hand, naming Fukushima as a cause is just political pandering of the lowest kind.

Re:NIMBY - Let France do it (1)

Pyrion (525584) | about 3 years ago | (#36696724)

And if something ever goes wrong and fallout escapes into the atmosphere, won't Germany be *downwind* of it?

FUCK YOU ALL (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#36696252)

We will do this.

And we will put a huge "Made in Germany" on it.

FUCK YOU!

Moving on (3, Informative)

bkmoore (1910118) | about 3 years ago | (#36696256)

If any country has the engineering capacity to move off of Nuclear for base-load power, it is Germany. Blast Germany all you want to, but I hope they make it work. Maybe America could use a little more vision.

Unless you have lived in Germany, you probably aren't aware just how controversial nuclear power has been, especially since the 1970s. Germany was planning on quitting Nuclear power once the useful life span of their reactors expired, but Chancellor Merkel reversed this decision in what was derisively known as the "Ausstieg aus dem Ausstieg" or in English, the "Exit from the Exit" from atomic energy. Then Fukushima happened on the eve of provincial elections in Baden-Wuertenberg. So she reversed course just in time, but her Christian Democratic Union still lost the election to the Green Party for the first time since the end of WW 2.

I don't agree on Merkels U-Turns every time public opinion shifts, but I am in favor of ending Nuclear energy. The contaminated (evacuated) zone around Chernobyl is the size of Switzerland. If something similar happened in Germany, they would loose a major chunk of their country. Just food for thought.

I'll probably go down in flames from the nuclear fanboys, this being /. and all. Sometimes, I think they are more afraid of someone finding an alternative than they are of an actual mishap. Maybe Nuclear power makes sense in a larger country such as the USA, or Russia in an isolated location. But in Germany, a mishap would be catastrophic and affect the livelihood of tens of millions of people. Yes, I do live in Germany.

Re:Moving on (5, Insightful)

betterunixthanunix (980855) | about 3 years ago | (#36696492)

Your parliament is not phasing nuclear power out in favor of wind or hydroelectric energy, they are phasing out nuclear power in favor of coal. Coal is one of the deadliest energy sources around. It doesn't take a disaster to make coal power deadly -- it spews hazardous gases and heavy metals as part of its normal operation.

I'd take nuclear power over coal any day of the week.

Re:Moving on (1)

Skapare (16644) | about 3 years ago | (#36696662)

The greens are backing coal, now?

Re:Moving on (1)

Rising Ape (1620461) | about 3 years ago | (#36696962)

What they're backing is irrelevant, as what actually occurs is ultimately limited by physics, engineering and economic practicalities, not the whims of politicians. If Germany have phased out coal by 2022 I'll eat my hat.

Re:Moving on (2)

Yakasha (42321) | about 3 years ago | (#36697006)

The greens are backing coal, now?

Yes. They're just too short-sighted to realize it.
The core of any country's power needs has to come from 1 of 4 options:

  • coal
  • natural gas
  • diesel
  • nuclear

Solar is not cost effective, wind, water, geo-thermal, tidal are limited by geography.

So if you outlaw/restrict nuclear, you're left with burning coal, gas, or petroleum.

Re:Moving on (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#36696956)

>implying any further coal power plants are going to built
Seriously, stop that without knowing anything. As far as fossils are concerned the most additional power will stem from gas power plants.
Nevertheless, renewables is where it's at, and that's where Germany is moving.

Re:Moving on (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#36696842)

The contaminated (evacuated) zone around Chernobyl is the size of Switzerland.

No it isn't. The original evacuated zone had a radius of 30km , it has since been changed a bit but it is still nowhere near the size of Switzerland. It's about 6% of the size of Switzerland. It's closer to the size of Luxembourg.

Re:Moving on (2)

Andy Dodd (701) | about 3 years ago | (#36697042)

Please stop using Chernobyl as an example, it's an extremely poor one. It was a known dangerous, fundamentally unstable reactor design that has always been illegal to build in the United States, and I believe Germany also never built reactors with positive void coefficients that completely lacked any form of containment.

Sadly, I have to agree. (1)

mrquagmire (2326560) | about 3 years ago | (#36696260)

Sadly, I have to agree with what they're doing. For a long time I was all for nuclear power since it seemed to be the only realistic source of clean energy. However, as we have learned, corporations and government agencies simply cannot be trusted with anything as important as making sure nuclear power is produced in a safe manner. There will always be some level of incompetence, laziness, or greed that will make 100% safe nuclear power impossible.

Re:Sadly, I have to agree. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#36696536)

Sadly, I have to agree with what they're doing. For a long time I was all for government-regulated food supply since it seemed to be the only realistic source of clean food. However, as we have learned, corporations and government agencies simply cannot be trusted with anything as important as making sure food is produced in a safe manner. There will always be some level of incompetence, laziness, or greed that will make 100% safe food impossible. So we're exiting the food market by 2040.

How many people died from e.coli?

Re:Sadly, I have to agree. (1)

betterunixthanunix (980855) | about 3 years ago | (#36696538)

No energy source is 100% safe. Yet there have been only a handful of nuclear disasters, which killed only a handful of people. In terms of safety, nuclear power has a pretty good record, bested only by wind and hydroelectric power (possibly natural gas if we don't include the harm done by gas mining).

Re:Sadly, I have to agree. (1)

am 2k (217885) | about 3 years ago | (#36696818)

The problem is that the disaster zones become inhabitable for a very long time. So even when not that many people are killed, you're losing land to it, and during that time the people living in the vicinity of that land have a shorter lifespan.

I personally consider the nuclear waste a much larger issue, though, because that's an unsolved problem even when nothing goes wrong at all. But that's not a sudden disaster, so it's not that much in the news.

The problem is not a few dead people. It's the cos (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#36696854)

The cost of a major nuclear disaster in Germany has been conservatevely calculated to be in the area of one two three times the GDP. The taxpayers don't want to bend over and pay this sum.

Frist Post (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#36696276)

Frist Post

Uh... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#36696282)

Just how many Tsunamis are hitting Germany these days? I hadn't known the country to contain that much of a coast along a major deep sea fault line. Is Lex Luthor now in control of the alternative energy market and causing earthquakes to happen under the streets of Berlin? What isn't the news really telling us?

Moonbeams and fairy dust will work! (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#36696288)

"The Bundesrat also approved measures to fill the gap left by nuclear power, on which Germany relies for about 22 percent of its energy needs.

These include building new coal and gas power plants, although Berlin is sticking to its target of cutting greenhouse gas emissions by 40 percent by 2020 from 1990 levels, and by 80-95 percent by 2050."

So, they're building new coal and gas-fired plants to fill in the gap in energy production, both of which will likely be imported at ever-increasing expense, but they're still going to cut CO2 output?

Either closing the gap left by nuclear power or reducing CO2 would be challenging enough. But both? At the same time? With world oil supply declines also expected over the same time period? Germany is going to implode in an industrial sense. At this rate the real money makers in a decade or two are going to be anyone with a spare cord of firewood in the winter.

Re:Moonbeams and fairy dust will work! (1)

MJMullinII (1232636) | about 3 years ago | (#36696562)

No, they won't implode -- they'll simply choose one or the other, and if the United States is any indication, they'll choose their economy over the environment.

In other news -- (1)

MJMullinII (1232636) | about 3 years ago | (#36696550)

"France's Nuclear Energy Sector predicts strong growth in French Electricity Exports"

Re:In other news -- (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#36696916)

"France's Nuclear Energy Sector predicts strong growth in French Electricity Exports"

Funny enough, France actually imports energy from Germany... That is the French have to build new reactors, but only to compensate for what they can't import from Germany any longer!

lol @ /. (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#36696612)

Strohdumme Amis halt...

German Parliament Outsources Nuclear Power (5, Informative)

Wrath0fb0b (302444) | about 3 years ago | (#36696614)

Since the first halt, Germany became a net power importer [bloomberg.com] from France -- whereas it used to be the other way around. And of course France generates 80% of its power from nuclear [wikipedia.org] . So yeah, they aren't really doing anything except shuffling the plants around.

France is going to make out pretty well from all this, probably going to end up as the major electricity producer on the continent. They are already reaping major economies of scale, having the http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Electricity_pricing [wikipedia.org] electricity prices in Europe.

Re:German Parliament Outsources Nuclear Power (1)

Yakasha (42321) | about 3 years ago | (#36697030)

Since the first halt, Germany became a net power importer [bloomberg.com] from France -- whereas it used to be the other way around. And of course France generates 80% of its power from nuclear [wikipedia.org] . So yeah, they aren't really doing anything except shuffling the plants around.

France is going to make out pretty well from all this, probably going to end up as the major electricity producer on the continent. They are already reaping major economies of scale, having the http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Electricity_pricing [wikipedia.org] electricity prices in Europe.

Why do you think the US hasn't tapped its own oil reserves?

"Not in my backyard."

But but .... (1)

unity100 (970058) | about 3 years ago | (#36696772)

what are we going to say cohorts of nuclear energy geeks who were ...... doh nevermind.

Relative risk (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#36696872)

What is the deadline for phasing out organic beansprouts?

Germany and Nuclear Power (2)

prefec2 (875483) | about 3 years ago | (#36696972)

Nuclear power became very unpopular after the Chernobyl accident. This lead to a nuclear power plant exit strategy in 2001 implemented by the red-green coalition (liberal and progressive) government. The exit date was around 2020/2022. Just recently the autumn 2010 the black-yellow coalition (conservatives) changed that plan to something in the 2030ies. then the Japanese had that bid disaster and the black-yellow coalition became very, very unpopular, because of their recent gift for the energy oligopoly. So in panic they changed it back to 2022. The only difference is, that seven old plants and one new one (which was broken for years now) are offline. The old one are so secure that you can built you own Fukushima-accident in Germany with a sport plane.

However, it is very interesting to hear that there are so many people telling Germany: You don't make it. It is not possible to switch. Lets say your're right. We never know until we've tried. But, when you are wrong then what will you do?

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