Germany’s Real Challenge to Nuclear Power
Nuclear power only survives thru a collection of interlinked paradoxes: The denial of the link between civil and military nuclear programs. “Confidence” that high level waste can be managed, when ever nation has failed for decades. Claims that new reactors are economic or even will be “too cheap to meter” while it is really “too expensive to matter.”
Yesterday the German commission assigned to determine the future of nuclear power announced their findings:
1) The 8 closed reactors will remain closed
2) The 9 younger reactors will be closed by 2022
3) Since civil and military nukes cant be separated, they are calling fro the reform of the IAEA
4) Waste storage locations more than Gorleben need to be located and waste must be retrievable.
It is worth pointing out that that 6 months ago this policy being proposed for Germany would have inconceivable except by the most radical anti-nuclear activists. This is Fukushima’s very expensive silver lining. While closing the reactors will grab the headlines, it is points 3 and 4 which dare to touch key nuclear paradoxes that are especially important.
One of these is the endless denial for the link between civil power generation and weapons proliferation. The IAEA (the UN’s nuclear watchdog) is tasked with both promoting reactors and controlling the spread of weapons. Yet every nuclear weapons state build their program based on reactor technology, except China which was given weapons technology directly by the Soviet Union. India and Pakistan got theirs from Canada, Israel got theirs from the French, S. Africa from the US.
Every nuclear campaigning organization and a handful of tiny anti-nuclear states like Austria have pointed out how this paradox cripples the IAEA and many national regulators (including the US NRC) which embrace this contradictory mandate. But for the industrial giant of Germany to point out that the emperor has no clothes is staggering.
Similarly, by demanding that nuclear waste be retrievable, a prohibitively expensive requirement, Germany is admitting that our current technology has no safe method of handling highly radioactive waste.
Beneath the headlines of closing reactors, the real story is lurking: the nuclear power paradoxes can not survive objective review.