Logic again, logic

This time it\’s the Low Carbon Kid. Talking about the costs of nuclear waste disposal he tells us that:

The last estimate for the cost of dealing with the waste and decommissioning of the U.K.\’s 19 reactors, by the National Audit Office in January 2008 was £73 billion over the next hundred years. This was 18% above initial estimates, and the costs of even near-term actions are still rising when they should have stabilised………The government has argued that new nuclear build should not be subsidised by the taxpayer and that companies should come up with a plan to manage the waste they create. They are currently allocating £1 billion per reactor.

But if I divide 19 into the 73 billion figure above I get nearly £4bn, not £1bn.

Oh, my. Well, what could one possibly say to this point? Well, if you look down the LCK\’s own post, you will see this:

But while the government pointed to this as the solution to waste from any new plants, CoRWM said it only meant this solution to apply to waste from Britain\’s old military nuclear programme dating back to the 1950s, so called legacy waste (see below for the link).


Yes, you see, that £73 billion figure includes cleaning up all of the waste from the military programme. Plus all of the original development of the basic technology.

Now I don\’t expect non-experts to know all of these things. But I do expect people who mention both to have the wit to add the two points together.

To make it clearer, let us apply the same logic to wind power. He\’s saying that we should include the maintenance costs of a 12 century windmill, one we maintain for heritage reasons, in our calculations of how much it\’s going to cost us to build a new windmill today.

Doesn\’t really work, does it?

And this is just flat out wrong:

The truth is we don\’t yet know what to do with existing nuclear waste.

Of course we know what to do with it. Vitrification and burial. The only reason we don\’t actually do it is because we\’ve got hippies screaming that we shouldn\’t. Or lying and insisting that we still don\’t know what to do.

13 thoughts on “Logic again, logic”

  1. Once it’s vitrified why don’t we chuck down the Mariana Trench? Is there any practical reason not to do this?

  2. I would think it’s probably better to put it somewhere it can be monitored and if necessary, moved.

  3. Stick it in Wales or somewhere like that.

    Tim adds: Fortunately, there is nowhere “like Wales”. One is quite enough…..

  4. @ Mr Potarto: The main concern with disposal, beyond putting it somewhere that it wont cause problems now, appears to be what happens if civilisation breaks down during the very long period that some of this waste is dangerous. Given that only an advanced civilisation could reach the bottom of the Mariana, that appears to deal with that problem rather neatly.

  5. Best to keep the nuclear waste at surface where it can be monitored. Obviously dumping it in outer-space is the ideal long term solution. I think within 20 years someone will develop a proven space vehicle that will take care of the “problem” of nuclear waste disposal.

  6. @exeng: There is the slight issue of rockets occasionally exploding and scattering their parts over a wide area. I suspect that current engineering solutions to prevent scatter would be rather heavy.

  7. I vote for Wales. In 20 years time we might have found something useful to do with it, and the Welsh need all the help they can get.

  8. If civilisation breaks down (of course this is to accept solely for the sake of argument that it hasn’t done so already), don’t we have rather bigger things to worry about than what some leftover hippies might do to an old nuclear waste storage depot?

  9. Low Carbon Kid’s blog includes a lie about the attitude of CoRWM to nuclear build – he claims they are against it but daren’t say so when they are using the standard practice of limiting their discussion to the area with which they are concerned to avoid completely open-ended debates that could last until they all drop dead of old age.

  10. a few years ago, I read on an inflight magazine about Finland’s nuclear programme and the research they had done into burial sites…why not use them?

    The problem with using Wales is that we will need the coal at some later date –

  11. Being of ancient years I have always wondered why it is stated that nuclear waste has no use and never will have?
    Did I miss something?

  12. So Much For Subtlety

    Nuclear waste may be mined one day for its contents so I am not sure we want to put it beyond reach. On the other hand 9-11 and this tsunami suggest that the casual means we have of storing it now are not a good idea.

    If we don’t want to use it later, the best solution would be transmutation. We simply need a large and hard neutron source that will convert most of the long-lasting elements into more radioactive and hence shorter-lived elements.


    I suggest we then vitrify the resulting fission products and then dump them in the North Sea. We could get them if we really wanted. They would be harmless enough – useful, even, for enforcing no-fishing zones. And in two or three hundred years they would be less radioactive that the ores they came from.

  13. Any leftover hippies in a decaying civilization would soon learn to treat certain buildings dotted around the landscape with great respect. Go inside that building and you will die; the gods have ordained this. The hippies would probably turn this learning into a religion; that’s what religions are for.

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