Future so bright, i gotta wear shades
[Update 9/7/2014: This reactor has again been delayed, now til 2018 – almost a decade after it’s original planned start date. Oh and the price tag is up to US$ 11 Billion.]
Like a zombie, the nuclear industry is very difficult to put down.
Unsurprisingly, the most recent announcement from Finland is the new third generation French reactor being built there will be at least 5 years delayed (beyond its original 4 year construction schedule) and at least 120% over budget (originally it was to cost US$4.14 Billion and be completed by 2009, not it will be at least US$9.1 billion and operational by 2014). Neither the builder nor the regulator is taking responsibility for these overruns and at the same time they are confident about this new schedule.
This is an old story. The people who sell reactors are fantastic sales people, and they know once they have gotten you in for a few billion, you cant cancel the project, so they always under bid. This is happening in both the UK and Saudi Arabia now where new reactors of this same design are being proposed at prices below what reality is delivering.
How is it we believe such lies? Many actually do not. But politicians who make these decisions are tremendously influenced by the utilities who fund their campaigns. These same politicians move costs away from the utilities by helping them avoid insurance and waste handling costs.
“But what about Fukushima?” you might ask. The popular press is claiming the accident is under control (it is not) and the radiation is not spreading far. In fact today’s New York Times is reporting radioactive hot spots are being found around Tokyo over 160 miles from the meltdowns. But these are being found by citizens groups and not the government which continues to claim the problems is localized to the area of the meltdowns.
So what is the fix? Where is the hope in all this? Well, part of it in Japan is these very groups which are monitoring where the government has been trying to ignore the problem. Originally started as a facebook discussion group, the relatively affluent Japanese have started to take measurements of this toxins into their own hands. On this side of the ponds, i am still hopeful about the dialogs which are coming out of the Occupy Everywhere movement. I turns out that by avoiding the classical political strategy of issuing demands, we end up with a much richer conversation. Now our job is to turn that talk and energy into action and political change.