Monday, May 2, 2011

Reflections at the Beginning of May

I’m back! It’s been three weeks since we left on our trip to Europe, and once again, I return home with new awareness and perspective on the US, the rest of the world, and or course, energy technology. We spent almost two weeks in Norway, one of the most affluent countries in the world. Every thing was clean, and efficient. We rented a French Peugeot 308 diesel, which got 65 miles to the gallon; diesel was a little over $11 a gallon…so a little more expensive than driving my Camry. Didn’t see a pothole in the 350km we drove, and the rail and bus systems were wonderful. Same was true in France and the Netherlands.

So, the nuclear accidents at Fukishima continue. Although the news coverage is nil, it seems some progress is being made in stabilizing the damaged reactors and the spent fuel pools. It will probably take many months or years before full cold shutdown is achieved, and then, in spite of Toshiba’s claims, it will take 50+ years before any decommissioning can even be done. And, of course, at what cost; and who pays?

Fukishima has forced the nuclear waste debate out into the open. We will see all kinds of ideas and “solutions”…the bottom line is there is NO solution to this problem. The “boys” at the honored nuclear institution of MIT have recommended we put all the spent fuel in casks and move them all to a central location and sit on them for 100 years. Brilliant! At what cost? Who pays? What happens after 100 years? Who pays then? How much will it cost then? New interest in Yucca Mountain, New Mexico, who knows where…deep geologic disposal is not a solution. Reprocessing? That hasn’t really come up yet, but the economics and technological feasibility of that will prove unrealistic. There was quite a bit on all this being reported in the British press, since their reprocessing program is in a shambles. There is also some renewed discussion of Low Level Waste disposal.

We dodged a bullet with the latest string of tornados…hope we continue to be lucky in the future with global climate change!

While all this is going on, this country continues on the path of corporate greed and political corruption. With record profits in most private sectors, where is the investment in infrastructure and jobs? At least the French are looking down the road a bit.

Our politics are the laughing stock in Europe; and the Republicans continue to provide a humorous but tragic soap opera.

It’s good to be home!

No comments:

Post a Comment