Could a really bad idea get even worse? The answer is “yes, yes, a thousand times yes!”
Apparently seeking a way to ensure their energy independence from the West, China is throwing in with Putin’s Russia in a venture to develop floating nuclear power plants.
One of the conundrums of nuclear energy is that in order to safely regulate and therefore harness the overwhelmingly destructive power of nuclear reactions, it is necessary that an unlimited supply of water be constantly available to quell those reactions, as necessary. That’s why nuclear power plants have generally been situated so close to lakes, rivers and oceans.
In Japan, where nuclear energy had become the principle driver of the economy, power plants with multiple reactors liberally dot the coastlines; but, as we have learned since March 2011, therein lies much of their potential for disaster.
In our post-Fukushima world, even die-hard nuke lovers have to admit to the necessity of finding better ways to isolate nuclear products from natural waterways.
The Japanese have tried every strategy they could think of, including chemical “freezing,” to prevent contaminated groundwater from co-mingling with waters of the ocean habitat. Nothing has worked, and it is estimated that hundreds-of-thousands of gallons of highly contaminated water are being added to the ocean every day.
Russia has been notoriously oblivious to environmental impacts; and even though China has adopted some green technology to address its choking atmosphere, that nation’s focus is strictly short-term, and largely motivated by GDP rather than environmental concerns.
The “choice” of nuclear as the alternative to coal is rather like the decision in the 1950’s to use DDT in order to eradicate crop predators. In the short-term, it worked remarkably well to increase yields and everyone was thrilled; but in the longterm, the collateral damage both to biodiversity and humans themselves was found to be so profound that its use was abandoned in the developed world.
The idea of floating nuclear plants, particularly in nations like Russia and China where quality control and corruption have been huge issues, is completely insane.
This and several other recent developments illustrate that world organizations like the UN have waited too long to establish clean water as a basic human right that must be protected both from exploitation and the hubris of
If we can’t even get that done, it’s just a matter of time before we snuff ourselves out.
Note: I am proud to be working for Fairewinds Energy Education, but the views expressed here are my own alone.