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China Can’t Wait to Get Back to Nuclear Power

Posted on Mar 23, 2011
Illustration by PZS

While Japan is busy trying to keep babies from drinking irradiated water, officials in nearby China are getting ready to roll out a reactor they say is more advanced and safer than the one currently poisoning Tokyo’s water supply.

China had announced a moratorium on nuclear building pending a safety review, but it appears as though construction of this fourth-generation reactor will start next month.


The “world’s first high-temperature, gas-cooled reactor” will be installed at Rongcheng in Shandong province, Cui Shaozhang, deputy general manager at Huaneng Nuclear Power Development Co., a unit of China Huaneng Group Corp., the nation’s largest power group, said in an interview yesterday in Singapore.

“There are differences between the Japanese and Chinese reactors,” Cui said. “Japan’s Fukushima plant was using old technology while Chinese reactors are more advanced.”

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By TDoff, March 24, 2011 at 5:42 pm Link to this comment

Isn’t it laughable that the bogus PR for the nuclear industry still promotes itself as part of the ‘Green Energy Solution’, even in view of the Fukushima catastrophe!? Of course, they’ll claim that ‘We’re twice as smart now as we were way back then, when Fukushima was built’.
Dumb bas****s, don’t even know basic math. Two times zero is still zero.

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By Jose, March 24, 2011 at 2:16 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

I’m assuming that this is the Pebble Bed design which does sound promising. If anyone wants to find out more about this design there’s a good Wikipedia entry.

The key difference is that this design pupports to be dyanmicaly stable rather than dynamicaly unstable. Current reactors default to meltdown if the systems cooling them fail. Wherease the Pebble Bed defaults to a slowdown in the fission process if systems fail.

On paper it sounds really good. As did early attempts at Gas cooled reactors. The devil is in the details however and the history of Nuclear Power is riddled with broken promises and hype. The Pebble Bed may very well avoid the problems with 2nd and 3rd generation designs but that isn’t to say that it won’t be beset by problems which are uniquely it’s own.

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By gerard, March 23, 2011 at 11:48 pm Link to this comment

P.S.  It is a good way for China to solve its
population problem?

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By gerard, March 23, 2011 at 11:46 pm Link to this comment

For detailed news and commentary in Japan,  Google Japan Times daily.
As to the “new technology”—in order to prevent complete meltdown, the nuclear industry will pull out all the stops on their Wurlitzer to assure
“improvements” and “safety measures” and will tell us again that “accidents can’t happen.”  We have heard it all before.  It’s music to our ears because it means we don’t have to conserve energy or worry about any of those “green” technologies waiting in the wings for finance and development.  And what about the waste products alive and deadly for 200,000
  People are doomed if they believe these government and industy lies.

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By Bill Jones, March 23, 2011 at 5:20 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

One assumes, of course, that China will not be foolish enough to use a reactor built by General Electric, a company that can’t build a decent fridge.

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By TDoff, March 23, 2011 at 2:09 pm Link to this comment

While some might consider irradiating babies a rather extreme form of population control, you must give the Chinese credit for exploring new boundaries of population control. And they do have a burgeoning people-problem, which, if not contained, might require them to search for more living space. So China’s neighbors, at least those who are upwind, may be rooting for the Chinese reactors, and for them to fail. In this case, ‘failure’ would be in the eyes of the beholder, and leaking, radiating reactors, may be just what they need. So GE should be sitting pretty, as the experts in the field of failed reactors.

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Sole Prop's avatar

By Sole Prop, March 23, 2011 at 2:02 pm Link to this comment

This is the fourth generation nuclear reactor design
supported by such as Stuart Brand and Jim Hansen? It
consumes the waste created by first through third
generation reactors “without the meltdown dangers”??
We’re heard it heralded as the end all, be all, but I’d
like to know much much more before I’d sign off on
rolling them out. “Can’t melt down”. We’ve it heard
from the industry too many times. What really in detail
is the design that “can’t melt down”, can’t release
radiation into the atmosphere? Again, more is needed
before I’ll hear that and smile.

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By lasmog, March 23, 2011 at 12:58 pm Link to this comment

Now what could possibly go wrong with a famously corrupt, secretive, greedy, authoritarian state throwing up nuclear plants as fast as their corrupt, secretive, greedy, corporate partners can slap them together?

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By Gmonst, March 23, 2011 at 12:42 pm Link to this comment

There remains the potential for catastrophic failure at any nuclear power plant, no matter how many safety measures have been put in place.  While that will always be a major concern, my personal objection to going whole hog with nuclear is the waste.  When you have waste streams that need to be protected for lengths of time stretching to millions of years, it seems kind of insane to me to pursue such a power source. 

While I certainly think we need to get away from fossil fuel power sources.  I don’t think in the end nuclear is the way we should go.  I definitely do not like the idea of creating ecological time bombs planted in the earth.  I don’t have enough faith in humanity to believe it will always be done safely and will remain safe for all time.  We are kicking a very dangerous bucket down the road for many many generations of future people.  That to me seems extremely selfish and shortsighted.  The huge sums of money that will be needed to build this new generation of reactors (which produce as much waste as any generation) would be much better served in the development of saner and safer energy sources.

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By sdemetri, March 23, 2011 at 12:12 pm Link to this comment

Death rate per watt generated:

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By Inherit The Wind, March 23, 2011 at 11:41 am Link to this comment

I specialize in it! That’s why the Right-Wing-Nuts detest me and the Loony Left hates me even worse!

I try to call ‘em like I see ‘em—and NOBODY on either side, especially the extremes, likes that!

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rico, suave's avatar

By rico, suave, March 23, 2011 at 11:29 am Link to this comment

You speak heresy, son!

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By Inherit The Wind, March 23, 2011 at 11:21 am Link to this comment

Don’t worry, rico, the “Loony Left” will support China using such technology, just not any Western nation or Japan.  They’d support Iran or Qaddaffi using it as well.

That’s why they are the “Loony Left” (as opposed to the sane Left).  Our own left-wing “TeaParty” but without the talent organization.

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By rico, suave, March 23, 2011 at 9:25 am Link to this comment

Three cheers for China. At least somebody’s got the cojones to oppose Luddism. Soon the environmental impact of Chinese energy consumption will be the lowest in the world.

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By Alessandra, March 23, 2011 at 4:10 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

The Fukushima plants are still in a critical situation, still out of control, still spewing God knows how much radiation, along with the cover-ups, the lack of accurate information, and the unnerving, spare sound-bites, but none of this has dettered nuclear industry shills and “experts” from around the world to jump on their soapboxes to reassure us that nuclear energy is “prefectly safe,” “the only alternative,” that there is “nothing to panic or be overly concerned about.”

Meanwhile, today’s lot of dreadful news tell us that Tokyo’s water supply is now radioactive to the point of being unsafe for babies. (Obviously that will go into soil, animals, food).

“The level found in Tokyo tap water does not pose an immediate health risk to adults, officials said. ”

For how long? And what if you drink it day after day?

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