You all know I normally stay positive here, right? This blog is for factually accurate modern nuclear information and analysis, and developments relating to the necessary establishment of nuclear power in Australia. Just for today, I need to pull on the steel-caps and work off some frustration, because there’s a lot of fear, uncertainty and doubt out there, and a lot of people with no scruples about exploiting it.
Ever heard of the nuclear reactor in the Phillipines? It’s an unfueled 621 MW light water reactor on the Bataan peninsula, completed in the 1980s. The Phillipines annual energy consumption was 468 TWh in 2011, so although the Bataan plant would have only contributed a bit over 5 TWh (at 80% capacity factor) to this, had it been successfully commissioned decades ago it could have meant an expansion of nuclear capacity in a country which is now instead planning more coal burning plants.
If you search it up, you may chance upon this carefully worded result:
What the article looks like:
Laudable as it is to acknowledge the actual human tragedy of the Haiyan disaster in the lead sentence, this article is still a neon-lit example of pure anti-nuclear propaganda (and I choose it exactly as an example – I haven’t read the rest of the site and haven’t paid attention to who the author is). It’s hard to know where to start, but let’s go with the provided list of six specious reasons:
1. Three Mile Island was the worst reactor accident ever in the US (which currently has 104 near-perfectly functioning reactors) and it resulted in nothing more or less than the successful demonstration of 2nd generation nuclear containment in the event of a core melt down. Scary at the time, horribly expensive, but no one was even injured.
2. Earthquakes? The Touhoku earthquake didn’t cause the Fukushima accident. In fact Japan’s entire fleet of reactors rode the whole disaster out safely, a few not even scramming.
3. Pinatubo erupted in 1991, the second largest of the 20th Century. Look at a picture of the Bataan plant today. It might have been the safest place to seek shelter – it the damage had even reached that far!
4. Apparently the “National Union of Scientists Corporation” reported 4000 defects after commissioning was suspended. Who the heck were they? Not nuclear industry professionals, that’s for sure.
5. Chernobyl had to be on this list. Anyone with the slightest interest in accurate knowledge about nuclear reactors knows the Westinghouse LWR is an entirely incomparable design.
6. A president rejects nuclear power and nuclear opponents will call him wise. Well, no shock there. Can I ask if that makes John F Kennedy a bloodthirsty moron?
Here’s the article’s own representation of the typhoon next to a map showing where the nuclear plant is. Funny how they neglected to indicate it’s location – how were the sub-80 km/h winds supposed to crack open the containment building, breech the pressure vessel and snatch up still-fissioning fuel rods to be flung out and among the traumatised Phillippino population, exactly?
I’m not specifically calling for the refurbishment and commissioning of the Bataan facility, but some are. I can’t spend the time to collect all the relevant information to make an informed decision, but the point is that the anti-nuclear voices, who triumphantly point to the stained concrete structure which never got its chance as a “monument to man’s folly, to pride and refusal to admit a mistake” and other such glib, analysis-free polemic, don’t spend the time either, and instead stretch credulity with straight-faced predictions of millions of extra deaths. Still, a billion dollars for 5TWh per year of CO2-mitigating electricity is only something to sniff at if one puts idealogy ahead of reality.
In response to Haiyan the US diverted USS George Washington to the Phillippines. Part of the desperately needed aid she brought was fresh clean water – provided straight from her nuclear reactor desalination facilities which can output 1.5 million litres daily. That’s a heck-load of instant drinking water to appear in your harbour! If I had been a suddenly homeless Phillippino I reckon I would have been pretty happy to have nuclear reactors so close by that day, all things considered.