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Japan Plans To Scrap Nuclear Plants After 40 Years 229

Posted by timothy
from the over-the-hill-gang dept.
An anonymous reader writes with this news as carried by the San Francisco Chronicle: "After the nuclear meltdown of the Fukushima plant, 'Japan says it will soon require atomic reactors to be shut down after 40 years of use to improve safety.' If, however, a nuclear plant is deemed still safe it may continue operation."
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Japan Plans To Scrap Nuclear Plants After 40 Years

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  • if it ain't broke (Score:5, Insightful)

    by alphatel (1450715) * on Saturday January 07, 2012 @06:57PM (#38625418)
    I promised my neighbors I will stop burning cow dung after 10 years, unless I deem it doesn't still smell like sh*t.
    • by quantaman (517394) on Saturday January 07, 2012 @07:02PM (#38625448)

      You're missing the point.

      Older plants don't have as many safety features as newer plants, as well existing safety features may degrade as they age. So instead of plants simply getting older and less safe they're proactively saying "this plant will be shut down by X unless you can prove it's still safe enough to continue".

      • OTOH... (Score:5, Insightful)

        by msauve (701917) on Saturday January 07, 2012 @07:16PM (#38625534)

        will soon require atomic reactors to be shut down after 40 years of use to improve safety.' If, however, a nuclear plant is deemed still safe it may continue operation."

        That also implies that if a plant is unsafe, it still gets 40 years. Otherwise, what does the time limit mean? At the end of 40 years, a plant is either safe or unsafe. If safe, they can keep going. If unsafe, why was it still running?

        • Re:OTOH... (Score:5, Insightful)

          by suomynonAyletamitlU (1618513) on Saturday January 07, 2012 @07:49PM (#38625752)

          That also implies that if a plant is unsafe, it still gets 40 years. Otherwise, what does the time limit mean?

          It means that they expect plants to be worn down by use. Plants that are less worn are deemed less likely to be a problem, even if they have fewer safeguards. Plants that are both worn and with fewer safeguards will (ostensibly) not be tolerated.

        • by Hentes (2461350)

          If they can't guarantee a safe lifetime of 40 years, they won't build it in the first place.

          • Re:OTOH... (Score:5, Insightful)

            by Surt (22457) on Saturday January 07, 2012 @08:37PM (#38626032) Homepage Journal

            Right .....
            And, of course, Fukushima was less than 3 months over 40. If the tidal wave had been 3 months earlier, everything would have been fine?

            • by Hentes (2461350)

              The tidal wave was expected to happen 1000 years later, actually.

              • by Sneeka2 (782894)

                I think you forgot to close your sarcasm tag. Or have I missed the story on Slashdot about the 100% accurate tidal wave prediction technology they are using?

            • by khallow (566160)

              If the tidal wave had been 3 months earlier, everything would have been fine?

              While you are right to be dubious, my take here is that the real problem is evolution of human knowledge over these time spans. In theory, one could keep Fukushima going forever even after a big disaster like the tsunami. Just rebuild the nuclear reactors exactly as they were and keep going. But we know that would be a bad idea.

              But we can engineer nuclear plants so that they achieve standards of safety. Not a guarantee that nothing bad will happen, but a reasonable expectation that bad things will happe

              • by KZigurs (638781)

                I don't think the earthquakes and tsunamis have changed much in the past 40 years. The possible nuclear meltdown safeguards certainly have changed by now, but the modelling of how likely such an earthquake would be to affect the site is almost guaranteed to have been the same exactly up to few days after it happened (takes time to react and update the models).

                • by khallow (566160)
                  I don't think earthquakes and tsunamis have changed in any measurable way in the past billion years. What has changed dramatically over the past 40 years is our understanding of possible earthquake and tsunami extremes, and our ability to model such disasters and their effects.
        • Re:OTOH... (Score:5, Insightful)

          by VanGarrett (1269030) on Saturday January 07, 2012 @07:55PM (#38625792) Homepage

          Do you believe that a nuclear plant goes into operation immediately when the last construction worker on-site finishes his final designated task? That seems a bizarre way to run things, in any country. The nuclear plant is inspected prior to commencing operations, and is presumed safe until its next inspection. Can you know before the box is open, whether Schrodinger's cat remains alive? This is not a new thought-experiment.

          The decision that Japan has made, is that 40 years is a reasonable length of time to check in on a nuclear plant, to see if it still meets current safety standards. It may no longer meet standards because of normal wear and tear on the facility, or it may be because the standards have been raised. Seeing as the previous modus operandi was to build a nuclear plant and let it continue until it explodes, I'd say that this is a clear and marked improvement.

          • by msauve (701917)
            Are you seriously so naive to believe they only inspect nuke plants after 40 years?

            In the US, it's a continuous process:

            Under a program initiated in 1977, resident inspectors are stationed at each nuclear power plant. There are at least two resident inspectors assigned to each site. Resident inspectors provide first-hand, independent assessment of plant conditions and performance...During the course of a year, NRC specialists may conduct 10 to 25 routine inspections at each nuclear power plant

            - US Nuclea [nrc.gov]

            • by Sneeka2 (782894)

              Which is the point the GG*P allures to. If there are continual inspections, what does the optional 40 year limit actually mean? If the plant was deemed unsafe at the last inspection, it is shut down before 40 years are up. If the plant passes its inspection as usual after 40 years, it can continue to operate as usual.

              • by AK Marc (707885)
                The point of the GGGP was that if the plant meets all operating specs, it is "safe" and at 40 years, it must re-certify as if it were new (i.e., if that base design were an issue, it will fail, even if fully within all operational safety parameters).
          • Re:OTOH... (Score:4, Insightful)

            by AmiMoJo (196126) <mojo@world3. n e t> on Sunday January 08, 2012 @12:56PM (#38630066) Homepage

            Seeing as the previous modus operandi was to build a nuclear plant and let it continue until it explodes, I'd say that this is a clear and marked improvement.

            Be serious. They ran them until they were deemed unsafe or uneconomical. No-one thought that such a large tsunami would ever hit Fukushima, or any other the other places where tens of thousands of people were washed away. Clearly that was wrong but there were regular safety inspections and they did deem to the plant fit to continue operating.

            The real problem is that nuclear power is so expensive that that power companies and governments are reluctant to build new facilities when they can keep the old ones running. Governments are also unwilling to impose further regulation, e.g. forcing Fukushima to upgrade its emergency cooling systems, because ultimately the cost gets passed on to them or their citizens. Obviously power companies won't do anything safety related unless forced to by regulation or insurers since it affects their bottom line and shareholder dividends.

            We need to start making better use of our fusion reactor. It is fuelled for a few billion years and all the management, running and waste disposal is outsourced with the energy beamed directly to us in vast quantities. The fusion plants work the same way as nuclear and most other energy types, i.e. using fusion power to generate steam that drives turbines. They are totally safe too, the worst accident possible being a high pressure steam or molten salt leak.

        • Re:OTOH... (Score:5, Insightful)

          by quantaman (517394) on Saturday January 07, 2012 @08:31PM (#38626004)

          will soon require atomic reactors to be shut down after 40 years of use to improve safety.' If, however, a nuclear plant is deemed still safe it may continue operation."

          That also implies that if a plant is unsafe, it still gets 40 years. Otherwise, what does the time limit mean? At the end of 40 years, a plant is either safe or unsafe. If safe, they can keep going. If unsafe, why was it still running?

          People like you are why I always feel the need to write long pedantic posts :/

          First lets establish the obvious in that safety isn't a binary condition, it's a continuum.

          Now older plants are less safe for two reasons. 1) they were built when the technology was less advanced, 2) they are old.

          Now if a plant is unsafe enough it will obviously be shut down before the 40 year mark, the only reason to believe otherwise is if you're being deliberately obtuse.

          However, we're looking at the situation where a plant is safe enough that there's no immediate reason to shut it down, but if someone started the ball rolling and did a really tough safety inspection it might end in the plant being shut down.

          What this law does is start the ball rolling.

          I'm sorry to sound snippy but comments of the type "I'm going to misinterpret a statement so I can make a clever remark" really bug me and detract from the discussion.

          • Re:OTOH... (Score:5, Interesting)

            by thegarbz (1787294) on Saturday January 07, 2012 @09:56PM (#38626406)

            First lets establish the obvious in that safety isn't a binary condition, it's a continuum.

            This needs to be expanded on. Safety is not only a continuum but it's an ever changing continuum as new standards for what is deemed "safe". I work at a plant which is quite unique around the world. It's unique in that we've never had a death on site. Does that mean we're safer than other sites? Hell no.

            Looking back at our history we had scaffolders holding onto the top of a tower with one hand with no safety harness on and with the other mounting a scaffold pole. We had a really old control room with a large window facing the plant less than 10m away. We've never had an incident that has damaged that building but that doesn't mean it is safe. We had to build a giant cement bomb proof bunker for our new control room and more recently move all day staff off site.

            When the plant was built there was no emergency shutdown system. Now 50 years later we still use some of the original kit but with a number of SIL rated shutdown systems in addition to the modern control system. Not to mention 50 years worth of changes in process design, check valves and relief valves in critical positions, a massive relief flaring system, etc.

            That point I am trying to make is that if you build a site and maintain a site perfectly to the standards of the day it was designed then eventually it will be deemed unsafe simply because you're ignoring years of changes in standards and lessons learnt from the process safety industry.

            40 years ago you weren't held liable for not putting up a wet floor sign either.

        • Re:OTOH... (Score:4, Insightful)

          by LordLucless (582312) on Saturday January 07, 2012 @08:34PM (#38626014)

          That also implies that if a plant is unsafe, it still gets 40 years. Otherwise, what does the time limit mean?

          You're missing the point. The plants were up to contemporary safety standards when they were built. They aren't now - not because their safety standards have necessarily decreased, but because contemporary safety mechanisms are so much better.

          This is saying that older plants must measure up to modern safety techniques, you can't "grandfather" in an old plant, just because its been operating for a long time.

          • by sjwt (161428)

            We grandfather in almost everything else?

            Imagin if every building had to meet new building and environmental codas, what about cars! the safety standers on those change all the time.

            Their are things that can be forced onto older plants, but you might find that most if not all plants if told they have to either implement new codes top to bottom in the next 5 years or shut down would shut-down.

          • by tsotha (720379)
            That makes a lot of sense. Plant and reactor design has changed a whole lot over the last forty years, and not every new safety system can be retrofitted.
        • by rrohbeck (944847)

          "Safety" is not a boolean value.

      • by gadzook33 (740455)
        Yeah, you're completely missing the point! Rules were made to be broken! What?
      • by jamesh (87723)

        I can't find the link but I thought the existing plants were already past their expected lifespans, but were still operating because the authorities deemed them safe enough to continue operating. So how does this new wordplay change anything?

  • In Other Words... (Score:4, Insightful)

    by CrazyDuke (529195) on Saturday January 07, 2012 @06:59PM (#38625430)

    Japan will continue to use nuclear plants after 40 years after some political/financial lubrication and rubber stamping a safety report, just like every other first world nation with old plants in the news lately.

    War is peace; Freedom is slavery, etc...

    Mmm...chocolate rations...

    • by lightknight (213164) on Saturday January 07, 2012 @07:47PM (#38625748) Homepage

      Indeed. It's our weird world of thinking -> "We won't build new nuclear power plants (which are safer, and benefit from technology advances), because nuclear power is unsafe; but we will continue to operate the older nuclear power plants (which are less safe, and are slowly crumbling) because we have already spent the money building them."

      There are days when I think the inmates are running the asylum.

      • by Hentes (2461350) on Saturday January 07, 2012 @07:56PM (#38625798)

        There are days when I think the inmates are running the asylum.

        You have just described how democracy works.

        • Does anyone else wake up in the morning, spend a moment thinking through all the various systems of rule the human race has conceived of, and feel that none of them are satisfactory? Not one of them.

          Democracy when you're younger -> everyone gets a vote, everyone is intelligent / cares to carefully understand or weigh each issue before casting a vote.
          Democracy when you're older -> why am I always in the minority? if everyone is intelligent, why are they constantly voting for plans that will backfire in

          • by Hentes (2461350)

            While my comment was admittedly cynical, I do believe in democracy (maybe because I'm still young :) ). People have, in fact become much more educated over time. 100 years ago most people spent 4-8 years in school, now it's 12-20 years. Society developing, and in places where democracy has been around for long enough (like in Western Europe) it starts to stabilize and become more and more effective. Sadly, this is a very slow process, and sometimes I get the feeling that bureaucracy, legal and financial sys

      • by Asic Eng (193332)

        The operators of the existing plants would want to keep them running in any case. Simply because those plants are already paid for, so keeping them running longer typically means to get higher profits. This would apply if you wanted to build new gas-fired plants, offshore wind parks or new nuclear power stations.

        If you want to replace old nuclear plants, you have to say: "These plants are unsafe to operate, we need something else, be it energy X, Y or Z". There is no way any energy supplier would replace

      • by russotto (537200)

        Indeed. It's our weird world of thinking -> "We won't build new nuclear power plants (which are safer, and benefit from technology advances), because nuclear power is unsafe; but we will continue to operate the older nuclear power plants (which are less safe, and are slowly crumbling) because we have already spent the money building them."

        If you won't build the new ones, won't continue running the old ones, and can't or won't build enough conventional capacity to take up the slack, what are you going to

      • Japanese are evolving to radiation already anyway.., a mummy in Japan now carries geiger counter to prevent parking their baby-coach in a radiation hotspot. See GeigerMama.com (no joke) http://geigermama.com/ [geigermama.com].
  • by SEWilco (27983) on Saturday January 07, 2012 @07:00PM (#38625434) Journal
    Doesn't seem like a change, unless they presently don't shutdown an unsafe plant before 40 years.
    • Re:So, no change? (Score:5, Insightful)

      by Anonymous Coward on Saturday January 07, 2012 @07:03PM (#38625452)

      No, it means that now, a plant has to be shown to be unsafe to be shutdown. With the changes, a plant has to be shown to be safe to qualify for an extention. It basically means more inspections.

      • by amiga3D (567632)

        It sounds like they're saying they'll all be shutdown in 40 years unless they're safe. Thus making it sound like if they are newer than 40 years they don't have to be safe. Of course that's from the summary which so often has little or nothing to do with the article.

        • by fnj (64210)

          I tend to doubt the truth of the actual wording is any less stupid than it sounds like from the summary.

  • Makes Sense (Score:3, Insightful)

    by jrmrjnck (2231848) on Saturday January 07, 2012 @07:02PM (#38625444)
    So... inspect old plants and shut them down if they're not operating safely. That sounds oddly reasonable.
  • by F69631 (2421974) on Saturday January 07, 2012 @07:04PM (#38625462)

    40 years old nuclear plants will be shut down, unless they're still safe. --> 40 years old nuclear plants that are no longer safe will be shut down

    One would assume that this has been the policy all along. Hell, if a nuclear plant is deemed "no longer safe" they should shut it down whether it's 20, 40 or 60 years old!

    The government said Friday that it plans to introduce legislation in the coming months to require reactors to stop running after 40 years. Japanese media reported that the law may include loopholes to allow some old nuclear reactors to keep running if their safety is confirmed with tests.

    The proposal could be similar to the law in the U.S., which grants 40-year licenses and allows for 20-year extensions. Such renewals have been granted to 66 of 104 U.S. nuclear reactors. That process has been so routine that many in the industry are already planning for additional license extensions that could push the plants to operate for 80 years or even 100.

    Japan does not currently have a limit on years of operation. It had planned to expand nuclear power before the meltdown, but has since ordered reactors undergoing routine inspections to undergo new tests and get community approval before they can be restarted. The new restrictions mean that only six Japanese reactors are currently running.

    So, they'll keep doing what they have always been doing, except that they now introduced arbitrary time limit, which they can circumvent if they want to.

    • I also thought that's what they were doing as well, and that Fuku has recently passed it n-decade review?

    • by tsotha (720379)
      It depends on what standard they intend to apply at the forty year mark. A reasonable thing to do would be to look at current designs and current thinking on seismology to determine what kind of gap exists between the old design and a brand new one. If the gap is too large the plant would be replaced. It's impossible to tell from the article if that's what they have in mind, but I wouldn't be surprised.
  • by FishTankX (1539069) on Saturday January 07, 2012 @07:05PM (#38625466)

    It'll be interesting to see if Gen 3+ and Gen 4 nuclear reactors will be allowed longer terms of lease, given that they have less parts to fail and more passive saftey systems. I think that nuclear could really be a keystone of Japan's nuclear energy future. That, and the Japanese have done research on how to extract uranium from the sea after Uranium prices spike in the future once easily mineable resources become exhausted. If we don't get breeders or thorium running, Japan has done the research.

    http://www.jaea.go.jp/jaeri/english/ff/ff43/topics.html [jaea.go.jp]

    Japan's only major energy resource is the sea. And the sea has enough Uranium to keep Japan ticking long after their population dwindles away due to their low birth rate.

    • by rrohbeck (944847)

      They are way more expensive than wind generators.
      And forget about the "base load" vs "intermittency" argument.

      • by thegarbz (1787294)

        They are way more expensive than wind generators.
        And forget about the "base load" vs "intermittency" argument.

        Firstly [citation needed] and while you find one for how nice and "cheap" wind power is I'll find you one for how nice and cheap nuclear is. This is afterall Japan where they don't have the governmental and insurance overheads of the USA.

        Secondly, ok lets forget the baseload argument. Japan doesn't have the land to put enough wind farms up to power its population. Run the numbers. It just can't happen unless you start to put wind farms out at sea which double screws your supposed "cheaper" argument.

        Thirdly,

      • by tsotha (720379)

        And forget about the "base load" vs "intermittency" argument.

        Well, of course, because if we don't you won't be able to pretend wind energy is cheaper.

      • by fnj (64210) on Sunday January 08, 2012 @02:20AM (#38627516)

        And forget about the "base load" vs "intermittency" argument.

        Yeah, let's just forget about the key reason why wind power can never form the bulk of power generating capacity. Hell, who cares about facts.

      • by Loki_1929 (550940)

        Cheaper.... to construct? Certainly. To operate on a per/TWh generated over the lifetime of the plant basis? Not even close. In fact, it's a joke.

        Let's talk about the fact that nuclear power is SAFER (as in less deaths per TWh generated) than wind power. Oh, you didn't think about that one, did ya?

    • by dbIII (701233)

      It'll be interesting to see if Gen 3+ and Gen 4 nuclear reactors will be allowed longer terms of lease

      You'll have to tell me - I'll be pretty old forty years after the first Gen 3+ plant gets finished (AP1000 under construction in China) and most likely well over 100 and dead some 40 years after a Gen 4 reactor gets built.
      Extraction of Uranium from seawater is nothing other than an as yet unapplied joke so long as there is a lot of very easily mined ore full of Uranium, Copper, Silver and Gold (eg. Olympic

  • by gregmac (629064) on Saturday January 07, 2012 @07:07PM (#38625488) Homepage

    So what have they done up to this point? Shouldn't all plants require safety inspections, all the time, and if they're not up to standards they get shut down? Age of the plant shouldn't matter at all -- in fact, a plant built 50 years ago should be held to the same standards as a plant built 2 years ago. It doesn't matter if putting generators in the basement next to the ocean was deemed to be okay in 1967. If current standards say your backup power has to be protected from tsunamis, then the plant has to be fixed, or shut down.

    • just pay a bribe to pass.

    • by dbIII (701233)
      Yes.
      This is about making an announcement for the sake of it and continuing as usual, just like when Germany pretended they were getting out of nuclear power for reasons other than not wanting to spend the money to run the things.
      I'm not sure about how the standards apply for non-nuclear thermal power stations in the USA. There are huge thick books full of case studies of what happens when you run various power station components to destruction and they are all US examples. In places where they actually ca
  • by Superken7 (893292) on Saturday January 07, 2012 @07:14PM (#38625524) Journal

    They are dependent on nuclear energy obviously, and 40 years is probably quite a feat. But after those 40 years, when there is radioactive waste that will last for thousands, and after leaving certain zones inhabitable for centuries... was it worth it?

    • You are also assuming energy is the only reason the Japanese build nuke plants, it's not. Apart from the "national pride", there is a much more subtle reason Japan continues to invest in nuclear energy, it basically gives them access to nuclear weapons without actually having nuclear weapons. Nuclear weapons are of course banned by law, but most experts seem to think that thanks to the nuclear power industry in Japan, Japan has the material, equipment, and expertise to produce nuclear weapons in less than
      • by dbIII (701233)
        There's also the less contraversial motive of having an energy source that can withstand a prolonged naval blockade, for instance by China. Remember that way back when the choice was made everyone involved remembered WWII first hand and the oil supply being cut before Pearl Harbour.
      • by tsotha (720379)

        You are also assuming energy is the only reason the Japanese build nuke plants, it's not. Apart from the "national pride", there is a much more subtle reason Japan continues to invest in nuclear energy, it basically gives them access to nuclear weapons without actually having nuclear weapons.

        Oh, bullshit. The Japanese people are as against nuclear weapons as they were the day after they got nuked themselves. Yes, the nuclear plants are partly strategic, but the reason is the country doesn't have energy re

    • by dbIII (701233)
      There is Synrock, which is finally coming into use after years of poor funding (due to idiots pretending that nuclear waste does not exist), but the waste will probably just be left lying around in pools of water around the plants instead of being dealt with properly that way, or even by the far less ideal 1960s idea of vitrification.
      Breeders can use the really active stuff but are of course net producers of waste instead of users of waste (like some people applying magical thinking assume them to be).
      To su
  • Hey, that's great. In fourty years I'll be dead.
  • by MrKaos (858439) on Saturday January 07, 2012 @09:04PM (#38626204) Journal

    If you look at the history of the Research and Development of nuclear reactors you will notice they were scaled up from test reactors to full sized commercial reactors very quickly. Speaking in general terms if you look closely at the design of most commercial reactors they just look like big versions of the test reactors. Even the AP-1000 and the EPR reactors suffer from a plethora of design inadequacies that demonstrate the full life cycle of a reactor was not considered.

    I reason this because the simplest and most obvious design change to Nuclear reactors would be to build them underground which would mean any nuclear accident would be automatically contained and the entire facility sealed off and, if necessary, flooded with water. It would also mean decommissioning and disposal of the reactor could take place in-situ and that would avoid the energy costs (around one third of the reactors lifetime output) incurred. I've only ever seen an IFR reactor design underground but there are many other safety features that can be applied.

    The argument for Nuclear Power generally ignores the entire nuclear industry paradigm and focuses on reactor technology as the answer, whilst the argument against focuses on the consequences of an industry that was rushed into existence based of the premise of nuclear weapons production. But I believe there is a middle ground based on spent fuel containment and a proper infrastructure to support it.

    There is little doubt that Fukushima would be much easier to deal with now if the spent fuel pools were empty but the truly sobering thought is that US reactors of the same design have up to five times the density of spent fuel contained in those pools and the same type of accident in one of those reactors would almost certainly result in a un-contained plutonium fire.

    It is possible to build a much safer nuclear industry but it would start with an international effort that incorporated the Joint industry findings the NRC commissioned AND the EPR design enhancements applied to all new reactor designs. That and a proper infrastructure program to handle spent fuel would answer most of the arguments the critics have of the Nuclear industry.

    It's really only attributable to the arrogance of the 50's thinking that leaves legal artifacts like the Price-Anderson act in existence long after it's use by date and demonstrates that announcements such of these are as insincere as the regulatory enforcement that led Japan, and the world, into this mess in the first place.

    • I reason this because the simplest and most obvious design change to Nuclear reactors would be to build them underground which would mean any nuclear accident would be automatically contained and the entire facility sealed off and, if necessary, flooded with water.

      Not quite. After shut-down the core continues to produce heat at 6% of nominal output. This heat must be transported away, or you will get a meltdown. If you build teh reactor underground, this gets much harder. Building underground also does not

      • by fnj (64210)

        I think he's saying, fuck it, in that event let the crew evacuate and let it melt down and to hell with it. Just leave it entombed well underground. I would assume he's not thinking of three feet of earth here, but REALLY WELL underground. That's not too different from what was done with underground nuclear tests. Believe me, the pressure due to a melted down nuclear reactor is not even close to the pressure of an exploding nuclear weapon, and that was pretty fully contained, so what do you think the proble

  • by Anonymous Coward on Saturday January 07, 2012 @09:13PM (#38626234)

    I remember reading Asimov's 'Foundation'; where people after colonising the whole galaxy, fell into lackluster apathy and gave up on their knowlege of science, abandoning nuclear energy in favour of combusting carbon based fuels. I'm glad Asimov's not alive to see the day when the human race lives up to the end of days scenario he thought so terrible before even touching the stars.

    • by Lanteran (1883836)

      Yes, that one particular example in particular struck a cord. Paraphrasing:

      The signs of decline are everywhere, recently a nuclear power plant melted down in (some star system). Their viceroy's response? Nuclear power plants are hard to maintain due to the lack of nuclear engineers. So, train more engineers? Unthinkable. Instead they opted to restrict nuclear power.

      Great series, depressing insight into the decline and fall of the modern-day Empire.

      • by fnj (64210)

        It's depressing in general tone, but I wouldn't say in general that having empires fade away is necessarily a BAD thing. Not if you have republics rise in their place. That was more or less what "Foundation" was about.

  • I'm not an expert on reactors but I don't this attitude of there being a 'nuclear plant' as if there were only one type there are different types and even the growing popularity of liquid fluoride thorium reactors (LFTRs).

      Canada, where I live, has plants using natural uranium in vessels that are not pressurized and they work fine without all the drama.

      Japan can do as it pleases of course I understand why but everyone else is freaking out over misinformation.

    • by dbIII (701233)
      That's right, want a reactor to produce Plutonium for your weapons program? CANDU!
      That's why Australia wanted one in the 1960s and why Turkey was blocked from buying one a few years ago.
      Also, what do you mean by "every growing popularity"? Is one planned anywhere? Didn't the Indians take that technology, update it by about three decades, leave out the fluoride, and start work on a modern design instead of that stillborn dream of the 1950s?
  • Obviously, Japan HAS been running Nukes for the LAST fourty years, and now AFTER 40 YEARS OF SAFE OPERATION they will close nukes they deem unsafe, and ones they deem safe will remain in operation.

    What exactly is the news here? They will close 'unsafe' power plants and keep 'safe' plants up and running. Did Japan knowingly keep unsafe power plants online?

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