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March 19, 2012 | by  | in Opinion |
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C.R.E.A.M – Nuclear Energy Sux

We used to think of radioactive atoms as little electric coconuts: clever little things filled with energy for us to harvest. Unfortunately, it’s become clear that they’re more like rotten walnuts: a pain to open and a disappointment once you’re in. Nuclear energy was an awesome idea, but ‘awesome’ doesn’t always make for optimal policy. Even if you ignore the possibility of a semi-apocalyptic nuclear meltdown, atomic energy is more grotty and expensive than a uStay apartment.

Let’s start in America. When nuclear energy was first developed, the Yanks burst into excitement. ‘Electricity too cheap to meter’, the nuclear lobby clamored, rallying public support. That PR was for a reason: they refused to start building until they were given liability caps, limits on how much they could get sued if the reactor blew up. They insisted that the risk was too scary—no firm who could build a nuclear reactor would risk bankruptcy like that. It seems that once they accounted for the damage that an accident would cause other people, nuclear wasn’t worth it.

Unfortunately, the American government agreed that risking tens of thousands of deaths wasn’t as important as ‘progress’. The liability caps came in and the plants were built. However, the budding nuclear state slowed down quick; America’s youngest reactors were built in the ‘70s. At first, companies reckoned that you knock one up for a few hundred mill, but they couldn’t fool themselves forever. It actually costs about seven billion dollars to build a nuclear reactor because, funnily enough, making a machine that literally destroys the building blocks of reality is quite hard.

Also tricky was that nuclear energy makes a lot of nuclear waste: that shit is really bad for you and it doesn’t go away. Some solutions were aired. For example, Italy’s government funnelled American and European nuclear waste to the
mafia, who in turn bought off Somalian authorities and secretly dumped it off the East African coast. Unfortunately
the 2004 Indian Ocean tsunami broke up the rusting barrels, causing Somalia’s shoreline to become a radioactive hazard, so that’s an approach unlikely to be repeated. When we’re hiring the fucking mafia to get rid of their waste we must be getting desperate.

The ‘Nuclear Age’ should be a forgotten pipe dream, but governments aren’t giving up. The Americans promised ten billion dollars for two new reactors in 2010. Some fads from the ‘70s are cool: think brown vinyl chairs or plastic-framed glasses. Some ‘70s fads are less cool, like wasting billions of dollars risking thousands of deaths. Nuclear energy is in the latter category: it’s expensive and it’s dangerous and it just doesn’t make sense.

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