[Marxism] RE: Nuclear power rebuttal from Muna Lakani

paul illich paul_illich at hotmail.com
Tue Oct 18 03:22:50 MDT 2005

David Fleming, on Nuclear Power


The first of two presentations by David Fleming was on Uranium depletion. He 
made a good case for nuclear power being a seriously bad idea on a technical 

Whilst Uranium is abundant in nature, it is rare in high enough 
concentrations to mine without using as much or more energy to get at it as 
can be extracted from it in a power plant. This negative energy balance 
makes it financially non-viable to build many more nuclear power stations. 
They take 10 years to build and Uranium reserves are already dwindling. 
Current energy from nuclear plants equates to 2.5% of global energy supply, 
and it is David's contention that even at this low rate, we have enough ore 
for another 40 years power generation from this source.

Also, the 'costs' of nuclear power have been 'subsidised' by industry 
through the expedient of simply not dealing with nuclear waste. This puts 
off till tomorrow some extremely high costs (not just financial, as the 
wastes are dangerous - generation wastes will kill you if you stand 
unprotected next to a chunk for 2 minutes). If you factor in the costs of 
building a plant (I gather the first 20 years of energy produced merely 
covers the input from the build) and of decommissioning, then there is no 
way that the industry can pay for it at all.

As the Uranium supplies dwindle, it becomes a sellers market, so costs 
spiral. Much ore is available only from politically unstable areas, so that 
military solutions are likely to be adopted by certain nations in order to 
safeguard access. And the cheap and quick nuclear plant building plan that 
the US is expressing an interest in is likely to lead to more accidents, 
less skilled staff, and dodgy security - the latter making nuclear terrorism 
even more likely. To avert these outcomes would make the costs of building, 
running, and decommissioning new plants even more prohibitive. Yet still the 
US government talks up nuclear.

David also appreciates the problems of large-scale energy production for 
communities, both from the perspective of stripping financial assets from 
the masses to the top of the capital pyramid and from the perspective of 
denying local control over energy provision. Local control is increasingly 
important as the national grid becomes less reliable.

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