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Government EU Power Technology

Belgium's Aging Nuclear Plants Worry Neighbors (phys.org) 319

mdsolar writes with news that Belgium's decision to restart a reactor at its Tihange nuclear power plant and its aging Doel plant have some of its European neighbors uneasy. Phys.org reports: "As the two cooling towers at Belgium's Doel nuclear power belch thick white steam into a wintry sky, people over the border in the Dutch town of Nieuw-Namen are on edge. They are part of a groundswell of concern in the Netherlands, Germany and Luxembourg over the safety of Belgium's seven aging reactors at Doel and at Tihange, further to the south and east. 'I'm happy Holland, Germany and Luxembourg are reacting because they (officials) don't listen to you and me,' butcher Filip van Vlierberge told AFP at his shop in Nieuw-Namen, where people can see the Doel plant. Benedicte, one of his customers, nodded in agreement. Van Vlierberge said he was particularly uneasy with the Belgian government's decision in December to extend the lives of 40-year-old reactors Doel 1 and Doel 2 until 2025 under a deal to preserve jobs and invest in the transition to cleaner energy."
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Belgium's Aging Nuclear Plants Worry Neighbors

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  • by MindPrison ( 864299 ) on Monday January 18, 2016 @02:21AM (#51320717) Journal
    ...the Swedish reactors are some of the oldest and the least serviceable in the world.
    http://www.thelocal.se/2015062... [thelocal.se]

    Swedish reactors where considered the 2nd least upgradeable and amongst the worst in the world. Kinda interesting since their Finnish neighbour has one of the most efficient and upgradeable reactor designs in the world. Go figure.
    • by Z00L00K ( 682162 ) on Monday January 18, 2016 @02:42AM (#51320747) Homepage

      The reason is that after the referendum back around 1980 there was effectively a ban on all nuclear power research in Sweden.

      That has effectively caused the situation we have where the upgrades of the reactors have been limited.

      That said - the nuclear reactor technology is mostly a dead end because nuclear energy is very dirty - mines contaminating areas with radioactivity for millenia, mining and refining costing a lot of energy - producing CO2 in the process and post usage waste from the fuel and from the reactors when they are torn down.

      It's just the power plants themselves that are reasonably clean unless there's an accident (Fukushima [wikipedia.org], Chernobyl [wikipedia.org], Kyshtym [wikipedia.org], Harrisburg [wikipedia.org], Sellafield [wikipedia.org])

      Nuclear power is useful in special applications, but due to the long term effects of it if there's a problem it's not a good solution.

      • by Firethorn ( 177587 ) on Monday January 18, 2016 @03:42AM (#51320877) Homepage Journal

        That said - the nuclear reactor technology is mostly a dead end because nuclear energy is very dirty - mines contaminating areas with radioactivity for millenia, mining and refining costing a lot of energy - producing CO2 in the process and post usage waste from the fuel and from the reactors when they are torn down.

        Citation on the mines causing radioactive contamination? Do you have any idea how dirty other mining operations are? None of them are really 'clean'.

        As for the energy cost of refining - I suppose you're one of the ones that argues that we shouldn't be using solar panels because making them involves mining and refining materials that creates nasty waste? Just like with solar power, nuclear power quickly becomes energy positive, and while it takes a relatively large amount of refining to get a fuel rod, it produces so much power over it's life, even in a wasteful US once-through system, that the energy costs are negligible, at least compared to the most frequent replacements - coal, natural gas, and such.

        For reactors being torn down, yes it takes energy. But given that we should know how to make plants last 50 years at this point, minimum, it's not actually that big of a proportion. Hell, after 50 years you'll probably be replacing the solar panels as well.

        On nuclear accidents - I'll give you that the earliest plants are dangerous. Fukushima, for example was older than Chernobyl or Three Mile Island. Newer plants would be safer.

        Really, that's all I ask for - build new nuclear plants to replace the old ones, not coal or natural gas. Keep a healthy mix of sources going.

        • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

          by MrKaos ( 858439 )

          For reactors being torn down, yes it takes energy. But given that we should know how to make plants last 50 years at this point, minimum, it's not actually that big of a proportion. Hell, after 50 years you'll probably be replacing the solar panels as well.

          The energy expenditure for *one* reactor decommissioning is around the 30-70TWh range [citing Vattenfal *and* Storm for lower and upper ranges] so with 400 odd reactors around the world we have a roughly 2800TWh energy *debt* pending from existing nuclear reactors in the nuclear industry a decade or two after they are decommissioned. An energy debt that will have to be paid by the great grand children of the baby boomers.

          On nuclear accidents - I'll give you that the earliest plants are dangerous. Fukushima, for example was older than Chernobyl or Three Mile Island. Newer plants would be safer.

          AP1000 plants have a lower thermal containment ratio (ie, the amount of energy the conc

          • by Christian Smith ( 3497 ) on Monday January 18, 2016 @06:14AM (#51321225) Homepage

            For reactors being torn down, yes it takes energy. But given that we should know how to make plants last 50 years at this point, minimum, it's not actually that big of a proportion. Hell, after 50 years you'll probably be replacing the solar panels as well.

            The energy expenditure for *one* reactor decommissioning is around the 30-70TWh range [citing Vattenfal *and* Storm for lower and upper ranges] so with 400 odd reactors around the world we have a roughly 2800TWh energy *debt* pending from existing nuclear reactors in the nuclear industry a decade or two after they are decommissioned. An energy debt that will have to be paid by the great grand children of the baby boomers.

            Why would you think new plants have the same energy debt as old plants? New plants are designed with decommissioning in mind, whereas old plants were not and are a bugger to decommission. Dounreay in the UK has had loads of contamination problems, including masses of asbestos contamination, as well as discharges to the local beach (now closed). But all these old reactor problems are lessons learnt for the newer generation of reactors and designs.

            • by MrKaos ( 858439 )

              Why would you think new plants have the same energy debt as old plants?

              Because they are essentially the same machine. I agree that there has been improvements in some new designs, however the reactor vessel is the core component that is energy intensive to dispose of.

              New plants are designed with decommissioning in mind,

              Do you have something or somewhere specific in mind?

              whereas old plants were not and are a bugger to decommission.

              Indeed.

              Dounreay in the UK has had loads of contamination problems, including masses of asbestos contamination, as well as discharges to the local beach (now closed). But all these old reactor problems are lessons learnt for the newer generation of reactors and designs.

              Well you would expect design improvements to be made as experience was gained. The question being what type of improvements. I understand the (EU) EPR is the best option for safety, improvements in the Russian reactors from lessons about Chernobyl and Ame

          • by MrKaos ( 858439 )

            Wow, pretty over sensitive if that's considered be a Troll. I've cited from finding used in IPCC and presented to the European parliament so I guess this must be a version of Nuclear shill censorship.

        • by Z00L00K ( 682162 ) on Monday January 18, 2016 @06:32AM (#51321251) Homepage

          Citation on the mines causing radioactive contamination? Do you have any idea how dirty other mining operations are? None of them are really 'clean'.

          As for the energy cost of refining - I suppose you're one of the ones that argues that we shouldn't be using solar panels because making them involves mining and refining materials that creates nasty waste? Just like with solar power, nuclear power quickly becomes energy positive, and while it takes a relatively large amount of refining to get a fuel rod, it produces so much power over it's life, even in a wasteful US once-through system, that the energy costs are negligible, at least compared to the most frequent replacements - coal, natural gas, and such.

          ...
          To produce the 25 tonnes or so of uranium fuel needed to keep your average reactor going for a year entails the extraction of half a million tonnes of waste rock and over 100,000 tonnes of mill tailings. These are toxic for hundreds of thousands of years. The conversion plant will generate another 144 tonnes of solid waste and 1343 cubic metres of liquid waste.

          Contamination of local water supplies around uranium mines and processing plants has been documented in Brazil, Colorado, Texas, Australia, Namibia and many other sites. To supply even a fraction of the power stations the industry expects to be online worldwide in 2020 would mean generating 50 million tonnes of toxic radioactive residues every single year. ...

          http://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2008/dec/05/nuclear-greenpolitics [theguardian.com]

          The time factor involved for radioactive material being hazardous is what makes it bad compared to many other alternatives. The amount of energy needed to produce the fuel at a quality needed for the reactors is also pretty high, which easily can be translated to CO2 emissions.

          • by MachineShedFred ( 621896 ) on Monday January 18, 2016 @10:28AM (#51322153) Journal

            Whenever someone talks about something being 'radioactive for hundreds of thousands of years' it means they are trying to scare you. It's far worse if something is radioactive for only a couple hundred years, because it's far more radioactive.

            There are isotopes of Iron that have a half-life in the tens of thousands of years, but I don't hear anyone clamoring to shut down the steel industry over it.

            • by AmiMoJo ( 196126 )

              No, not really. It means they are pointing out that some waste has to be stored for that long because that's how long it is a danger to the environment and human health. That presents some unique challenges because it's hard to plan for that length of time. Is the area geologically stable enough for the next 100,000 years? Will any information you leave your descendants about it be intact and understood in 50,000 years times when there is still danger?

              Trying to trivialize these issues just wakens your argum

              • The amount of radioactivity of an isotope is inversely proportionate to it's half life. I'm fine with waste that is radioactive for 300,000 years, because it's just not that radioactive. Also, the type of decay matters - Plutonium, with it's half life of 280,000 years, decays by ejecting an 'alpha' particle, which is blocked by your dead skin. It is only dangerous radiation if you eat it or breathe it.

                And coal fly ash and released mercury is toxic FOREVER.

          • That article is feral FUD. It has all the hallmarks:

            1. Claiming that someone is exempt from some critical safety guideline, when the summary of the guidelines are that all local regulatory requirements should be met, right from the Department of Redundancy Department.
            2. Pulling numbers without a baseline comparison against alternatives, all those numbers look great compared to other mines.
            3. Appealing to authority (Australian greens) as if they are an actual authority.
            4. Talking about disregard for the loca

        • by AmiMoJo ( 196126 ) <mojo.world3@net> on Monday January 18, 2016 @08:01AM (#51321489) Homepage

          Manufacturing solar PV isn't nearly as bad a nuclear energy, if you look at the entire lifecycle on a per watt generated basis.

          • by tnk1 ( 899206 )

            Whatever ends up "winning" this debate will produce the best value per watt or least pollution per watt. Why? Because the winner will be the subject of research and improvements and the other will not. It almost doesn't even matter which source has the best absolute efficiency, because the improvements over what is currently possible will eclipse most of the arguments made either way.

            And whoever wins will say, "see, I told you so," but I'm certain that given the right amount of time, we could make either

      • by Xyrus ( 755017 ) on Monday January 18, 2016 @08:18AM (#51321543) Journal

        The reason is that after the referendum back around 1980 there was effectively a ban on all nuclear power research in Sweden.

        That has effectively caused the situation we have where the upgrades of the reactors have been limited.

        That said - the nuclear reactor technology is mostly a dead end because nuclear energy is very dirty - mines contaminating areas with radioactivity for millenia, mining and refining costing a lot of energy - producing CO2 in the process and post usage waste from the fuel and from the reactors when they are torn down.

        As opposed to coal, which is very clean to mine, have absolutely no radiological or toxicological contamination rendering sites into toxic waste dumps for millenia, produce no wastes whatsoever, and don't require any CO2 output because magical fairies and unicorns support it with their wings and horns.

        It's just the power plants themselves that are reasonably clean unless there's an accident (Fukushima [wikipedia.org], Chernobyl [wikipedia.org], Kyshtym [wikipedia.org], Harrisburg [wikipedia.org], Sellafield [wikipedia.org])

        Nuclear power is useful in special applications, but due to the long term effects of it if there's a problem it's not a good solution.

        Yeah, just like all those clean happy underground coal fires, fly ash dumps, etc. that of course have no negative impacts whatsover. And coal doesn't produce massive amounts of CO2 either, that's just a red herring.

        Oh you weren't talking about coal? You were talking about solar? Oh my bad. Rare earth mines are even cleaner. Those pictures of toxic wastelands in China as a result of open pit strip mines are just made up. And since rare earths are so plentiful and easy to get, ramping up production levels by several orders of magnitude to meet the global demand to make everything run on solar is completely feasible and has absolutely no negative repercussions, because reasons. And since solar power is fueled by hopes and dreams you can just put it everywhere and solve all the world's problems.

        Nuclear is "dead end" because a lot of people have worked very hard over many decades to make it dead end.

        • by Z00L00K ( 682162 )

          Just look at the whole life cycle of uranium ore and waste as well as plant decommission as well as the over 100k years the radioactive contamination is a problem and you will realize that nuclear production is actually pretty dirty.

          For further reading see: http://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2008/dec/05/nuclear-greenpolitics [theguardian.com]

          • by Creepy ( 93888 )

            It doesn't have to be. Most 4th generation designs are breeder reactors. Anything labeled fast reactor [wikipedia.org] here is a breeder reactor that converts either thorium to fissile uranium or "nuclear waste" uranium to fissile plutonium. In layman's terms, they actually run on what conventional nuclear calls nuclear waste. Furthermore, they tend to burn long lived actinides, leaving much shorter lived waste. All of these reactors are most effective with on-site reprocessing, but given that being a proliferation concern

      • by MachineShedFred ( 621896 ) on Monday January 18, 2016 @10:37AM (#51322199) Journal

        You talk about Three Mile Island in the same sentence as Fukushima, Chernobyl, and Sellafield, but from the Wikipedia article YOU linked:

        According to the Rogovin report, the vast majority of the radioisotopes released were the noble gases xenon and krypton. The report stated, "During the course of the accident, approximately 2.5 MCi (93 PBq) of radioactive noble gases and 15 Ci (560 GBq) of radioiodines were released." This resulted in an average dose of 1.4 mrem (14 Sv) to the two million people near the plant. The report compared this with the additional 80 mrem (800 Sv) per year received from living in a high altitude city such as Denver.

        The safeties worked. There was fuel meltdown, but it was contained, and the radioactive release amounted to less of a radiation dose then you would receive from a round trip flight from New York to Los Angeles.

        Was it a mess? Sure. Was it an expensive mess? Absolutely. Was the public in any danger at all? No.

    • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

      by _merlin ( 160982 )

      Sweden is Germanic while Finland is Uralic. Why would you expect them to be the same? ;)

    • by jcdr ( 178250 )

      Beznau 1 in Switzerland claim to be the oldest still in operation: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/... [wikipedia.org]

  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday January 18, 2016 @02:26AM (#51320723)

    The move away from nuclear power in Europe is a knee-jerk reaction to the Fukushima Daiichi disaster. That the plants are old might be cause for concern, if the reactors don't meet modern safety standards. However, nuclear plants are very safe now and every disaster or near-disaster is thoroughly analyzed and changes are implemented at other plants so such incidents never occur again. For example, the United States' Nuclear Regulatory Commission carefully reviewed the Daiichi plant disaster and implemented changes in the US to make such an event even more unlikely at American nuclear plants. The phase out of nuclear power is based on largely unfounded fears, not science and logic. It's easy to ridicule Americans for attitudes about climate change and evolution. But there are equally foolish things in Europe, like the views on nuclear power and GMOs. I just wish people on both sides of the pond were more rational about some pretty important issues. I'm not opposed to phasing out nuclear power if superior technology becomes available, but I don't think there's really a superior alternative in many situations. Fossil fuels are awful and solar and wind aren't without their own problems.

    • Fusion is the answer!!! That's why France is building ITER and no one complains. Never mind that much of the reactor vessel itself is going to be highly radioactive, and you could use it as a breeder reactor if you felt like it....

      • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

        by Anonymous Coward

        Part of the reason for building ITER is to determine how severe these concerns actually are. One of the counterarguments about the radioactivity is that fusion reactors won't produce much of the dangerous waste that comes from fission plants. Fusion power may not be viable in the near term, but ITER will hopefully answer those questions. That said, until there are real tests of fusion power, it can't be considered a viable alternative to fission plants.

      • by JaredOfEuropa ( 526365 ) on Monday January 18, 2016 @07:24AM (#51321393) Journal
        ITER is an international effort that happens to be built in France (Japan was the other candidate IIRC). Besides demonstrating a capability to sustain fusion at a significant net energy surplus, it should answer the question of to what degree the reactor vessel will become radioactive, and many other difficult questions as well. Sadly it'll be a while before we'll know more; realistically, ITER won't see first plasma before 2025, and will take years to demonstrate sustained fusion.

        Meanwhile, interesting things are happening in Germany. The Wendelstein stellerator [wikipedia.org] has seen first plasma last month and is going operational this year. This thing attempts to solve a number of issues with the classical Tokamak design, and the goals for this reactor are rather ambitious: to sustain plasma for up to 30 minutes.
      • I don't get why Fusion is given a free pass by the NIMBY everything nuclear is scary crowd. lithium is physically dangerous, deuterium is slightly toxic, and tritium is as much a nuclear hazard as anything coming out of a fission plants fuel rod and it's insanely difficult to contain as well. If you don't think that neutron activation isn't going to make the whole thing as radioactive as a fission reactor core, your delusional.

        The only reason that I can think of why Greens prefer Fusion over Fission is Fiss

    • Independent from your preference for nuclear or regenerative energy, the nuclear plants in Belgium are broken. It is like one major accident per week in their plants. They are unable to run and maintain the present plants. And they only run, because they are unablento implement any alternative including getting electricity from their neighbors.

      • by Mashiki ( 184564 )

        Maybe they should hang up the anti-nuke FUD and start building new nuclear power plants. Canada could even sell them some Gen3/3.5 or 4 if they're that desperate.

        • by prefec2 ( 875483 ) on Monday January 18, 2016 @05:31AM (#51321143)

          The real problem in Belgium is their lack of being organized. They cannot agree on anything in short term. Not in new nuclear plants (super expensive), grid improvements, or even a single wind turbine. The political factions in Belgium are unable to come to any agreements. Especially when a solution is not required at once. And the present plants did not blow up so far, so there is no imminent threat. For US Americans, imagine two tea parties (one from the south and one from the north) which hate each other and two moderate parties where one of the moderate parties is in favour for separation of the north and the other is not. And you need at least three parties to form a government. Forming governments have been hard in this environment. Lately, it took them over 500 days to come up with a coalition. They could also not mitigate their energy crisis by switching of highway illumination at night.

          • by Mashiki ( 184564 )

            Not being American, and living in Canada I already know what this is like. And still, somehow we manage to get our shit together most of the time.

            • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

              by prefec2 ( 875483 )

              The Belgians do not. Maybe you could help them. however, there are also some fundamental differences. First, your provinces have much more autonomy and are larger. Second, Belgium was patched together from different minor territories which where sometimes independent in history or belonged to France or the Dutch or Austria. All in all they have only the king as a common part. To solve this issue they constructed an elaborate balance of influence mechanism which is becoming more and more dysfunctional.

      • Take those "accidents" with a grain of salt. Most of those malfunctions (transformers ?) happen all the time, even 30 years ago.
        They just weren't reported back then like they are now. The one thing I do fear though is that they could've cycled through experts to find one
        who was willing to say it was safe to put the one with ruptures in the vessel back online.
        Because yes, we haven't build any new plants in a long time because the politicians can't make up their mind.
    • by zAPPzAPP ( 1207370 ) on Monday January 18, 2016 @03:30AM (#51320849)

      This has nothing to do with the move away from nuclear. I don't even know if Belgium is moving away from it. France certainly isn't, so it's not like 'Europe is moving away from nuclear'.

      These particular reactors have a fail basicly each week. Just over new years weeks they shut down and restarted three times due to various problems. They have cracks in their containment. They are horribly outdated.
      And not only is Belgium so small that any critical reactor failure would affect its neighbours directly anyway, they are also built right on the borders. So of course the neighbouring countries do have a word to say about these issues.

      • by AmiMoJo ( 196126 )

        France is slowly moving away from nuclear. For decades it was a cash cow for the companies running like, like EDF. They were sucking up tax money on the promise of cheap power, but it never came and they are now the biggest benefit queens in the country. The public is fed up of subsidising their for-profit business, and won't put up with it any more.

        Interestingly EDF has just conned the UK government into doing the same thing with the new plant they are building, in partnership with Chinese companies. Guara

        • Interestingly EDF has just conned the UK government into doing the same thing with the new plant they are building, in partnership with Chinese companies. Guaranteed high prices for the lifetime of the plant, regardless of what the market will sustain.

          Now that is just wrong, I can see the Government Subsidising some of the R&D as basic science does have intrinsic value to the society, and some insurance subsidy (don't whine if you get regulated while your suckling the public tit), is probably better than the people getting stiffed for whole thing if something goes south; but if the technology isn't able to stand on it's own, maybe it's better to put a bullet into the lame horse's head and put it out of it's misery.

    • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

      by Anonymous Coward

      For the record, in Belgium, the law to go nuclear-free by 2015 was voted in 1999. Nothing to do with Fukushima.

      At the time the government included ecologists who had had "stop nuclear" in their program since forever (funny thing is that they did argue that gas-based plants are a less-worse replacement for nuclear. Of course they'd prefer to go all solar and wind, but this is Belgium, not California).

      When the ecologists got kicked out of government a few years later, the other parties did nothing to prepare

    • by cyber-vandal ( 148830 ) on Monday January 18, 2016 @04:07AM (#51320947) Homepage

      The views on nuclear power are based on how polluting it is and how difficult it is to do it safely, especially when corners are cut as at Fukushima. The opposition to GMOs is based on a completely warranted distrust of large multinationals who are well known for delivering defective products while lying about doing so. Better behaviour and transparency is what's required, not just dismissing justified suspicion as stupidity.

      • by Xyrus ( 755017 ) on Monday January 18, 2016 @08:21AM (#51321557) Journal

        The views on nuclear power are based on how polluting it is and how difficult it is to do it safely, especially when corners are cut as at Fukushima. The opposition to GMOs is based on a completely warranted distrust of large multinationals who are well known for delivering defective products while lying about doing so. Better behaviour and transparency is what's required, not just dismissing justified suspicion as stupidity.

        Nuclear power is far less polluting than any other traditional power source by many orders of magnitude. In fact, if people weren't so damn stupid it would be one of the least polluting power sources on the planet for the power density.

  • Cleaner energy? (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Bearhouse ( 1034238 ) on Monday January 18, 2016 @02:41AM (#51320745)

    Nuclear is pretty clean, and low co2. Yes, it's more expensive than its boosters pretend, but then ago so are most of the other highly-subsidised alternatives. Disposal of the waste is not as difficult as people pretend, and in fact would be simple and cheap if successive generations of politicians not bowed to NIMBY pressure...

    Running older reactors can be perfectly safe too; costs a bit more, since you have to model how the materials age and replacement can be tricky, but there are specialists who provide those services. The concern is that some organisations are moving away from the "safety first, money no object" mentality to squeeze more cash out of their already highly-profitable installations.

    • Re:Cleaner energy? (Score:4, Insightful)

      by umghhh ( 965931 ) on Monday January 18, 2016 @03:46AM (#51320889)
      'would'??? So you say we have no working waste disposal but 'would' be able to fix the problem if we 'could' fix NIMBY problem. Wow that is a small task. Go and fix it today cowboy!
      As for cheap I do not know - the nuclear is subsidized only in different ways than say solar panels. The start of the panels were subsidized by Germans mostly. Once the production facilities were everywhere and forced prices down the subsidies were not needed anymore. Nuclear has been heavily subsidized by powers that be too. The only difference is that they never fixed this 'already fixed' waste problem and insurance is still subsidized. The price hikes on new reactors are faster then the building firms which means costs are almost out of control. Plus it is difficult to manage nuclear device when it works and when it goes out of control there is a huge problem what to do with the smoking pile of shit that remains. You may argue they are safe but if we build and use as much of them as you want then chances of accidents will multiply too. We may still be forced to use them but the way it looks like now - we can invest in so called renewables and in efficiency thus reducing the need for the nuclear besides special applications.
      • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

        by Anonymous Coward

        If you are thinking of fixing waste disposal in the US, start by changing the law. Reprocessing (to recover the pretty large fraction of fuel that hasn't been used up) is still illegal "for security reasons". Apparently the govt is afraid someone is going to make bombs.
        Reprocessing = less mining and less waste, but the current 'open' fuel cycle - mine, use once, dispose - is easier to keep track of.

        The current amount of waste stored in the US contains enough leftover fuel to power the entire nation's electr

        • Even more ridiculous: the waste being stored that could be reprocessed into more reactor fuel is grade-A unsuitable for weapons production because there is far too much Pu-240 and Pu-241 in it. You could never make a working nuclear explosive out of it, but we needed to 'lead by example' even if we were leading the world to a stupider place.

    • Re:Cleaner energy? (Score:4, Insightful)

      by drinkypoo ( 153816 ) <martin.espinoza@gmail.com> on Monday January 18, 2016 @05:33AM (#51321149) Homepage Journal

      "would be cheap" ... "can be perfectly safe" ... One thing you can count on is that there will be human actors who will act in bad faith. If your system can't survive that while still acting properly, then it's a bad system, unless your proposal includes a feasible means of altering human nature.

    • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

      by MrKaos ( 858439 )

      Disposal of the waste is not as difficult as people pretend,

      It's very difficult. Groundwater contaimination is a major issue. Stopping things like plutonium chloride from getting into the water table and finding the right geology to store this is a major challenge for geologists. There is some interesting work going on in tying transuranics up in some crystal types of rocks. The crystals are actually green and quite beautiful. Most importantly, they are impervious to water - so the hope is that it can become an industrial process.

      and in fact would be simple and cheap if successive generations of politicians not bowed to NIMBY pressure...

      Well NIMBY in the context of these r

  • by bolt_the_dhampir ( 1545719 ) on Monday January 18, 2016 @02:44AM (#51320755)
    It's fascinating how the old reactors are still in service because the public is afraid of them. The collective fear of the old reactors and their flaws leads to new reactors not being a favorable political decision. Thus, we are stuck with the 40 year old old versions of the most efficient clean energy production we're aware of.
    • The alternative would be to (a) increase the capacity of the link between the Belgium grid and the grids of their neighbors, and (b) plan fully invest in windpower and storage solutions. However, Belgium is unable to do anything. In Belgium the people are not even against nuclear plants, they ate however unable to govern their country. Mainly because they are 2 and a half country. It would be better to break is up I'm pieces and connect the parts to France, the Netherlands and Luxemburg.

      • The alternative would be to (a) increase the capacity of the link between the Belgium grid and the grids of their neighbors, and (b) plan fully invest in windpower and storage solutions.

        I'm not sure our shore line is big enough for the amount of wind turbines we might need.
        (a) might happen since it's been championned by a broadly respected economist, even though his socialist party (SPA) is part of the opposition now.

    • by AmiMoJo ( 196126 )

      It's fascinating how many people think the opposition is down to fear, and not money.

      Take the UK as an example. The public doesn't seem to be afraid of nuclear power or nuclear weapons, based on two debates we are having about it right now. First you have the new nuclear plant being built. No-one is complaining about safety, it's all about the insane cost, and the fact that in order to get a French/Chinese partnership to build it for us we had to agree to pay them way over the odds for the power generated,

  • Ah Belgium Politcs (Score:5, Informative)

    by prefec2 ( 875483 ) on Monday January 18, 2016 @02:52AM (#51320775)

    Unfortunately Belgium is the most dysfunctional state in Europe's west. Sometimes their political cast is unable to form a government for years. Actually, it is like that after each election. So they are not properly governed for 1/4 to 1/2 of the time. Their police has no clue where their potential terrorists live, and their control and oversight of nuclear plants is not governed by safety concerns, but by the fact that their grid is not that well connected with neighboring countries. They also do not have any program to replace the old and broken reactors with anything not even new plants. It is necessary that they understand that it us not working and that they should dissolve their country.

    • by NaughtyNimitz ( 763264 ) on Monday January 18, 2016 @03:05AM (#51320807)

      Exactlly: but that dissolving is met with fierce resistance from the French-speaking part of Belgium. Just recently, the leading party (a pro-secession Flemish party that has vowed to delay their already well known secession plans during their appointment in order to get the country back on track) has publicly announced they will look into the confederalistic matter INTERNALLY as a long-term strategy: just to make it clear they do not intend to do it now.
      Immediately and will all guns blazing, the French-speaking parties except the Liberal Party talk of nothing short of a revolution in the Belgian Parliament. Of course, every Flemish person understands it is in their best interest to keep Belgium (an artificial country created by the imperial powers of the 19th century) together as they 'think' the fruits of Flemish labour (a.k.a. money transfers from Flemish to Walloon part) is their due payment for the past 2 centuries of pampering those peasant Flemish farmers with their Germanic-based language into the industrial age.
      I for one think Europe should be about people in regions with their own culture but under the umbrella of a bigger organisation (EU) but without the blooper-government (Greece, Merkel-Migrants, ....)

      • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

        by Anonymous Coward

        dissolving is met with fierce resistance from the French-speaking part of Belgium

        Even in Dutch speaking Belgium, only 6% is in favour of dissolving Belgium. Source [kuleuven.be]

        The only ones in favour of splitting up Belgium is a minority in Belgium itself, and people from other countries who do not have a real clue about Belgium.

    • "[Belgium's] police has no clue where their potential terrorists live"

      Are you suggesting that that is different from other countries?

      • I assume that no country has a complete picture of radicals in their respective country. However, Belgium has a super fragmented police force. As shown recently in the aftermath of the Paris attacks, it became clear that they do not understand the structures in their own country. They had less insight than any other country. And it was almost impossible to communicate efficiently with Belgium police forces, as there is no well defined interface.

        • by Yoda222 ( 943886 )

          However, Belgium has a super fragmented police force. As shown recently in the aftermath of the Paris attacks, it became clear that they do not understand the structures in their own country. They had less insight than any other country. And it was almost impossible to communicate efficiently with Belgium police forces, as there is no well defined interface.

          I was only a teenager at that time, but isn't this almost the same conclusion that after the Dutroux case? Wasn't the police/gendarmerie merging supposed to resolve that? Looks like it fails...

          • by prefec2 ( 875483 )

            I did not monitor the Dutroux case a lot, as it was so far away (then; nowadays the world seems to be much smaller). I recently read an article - I am not sure whether it was in the Guardian or another European newspaper - which stated that Beldium has multiple police organizations and head of police alone for Brussels. The metro region is 1.8 million and the core is 1.1 million people. Most other regions of similar size have one organization and well defined ways of communication. True other countries mess

            • This is also true for the different provinces. As a consequence the borders get ignored because nobody wants the extra work and the exact jurisdiction is unclear.
              Police and justice have been fucked up in Belgium for a long time. Most lawyers decline government work because they "forget" to pay their bills repeatedly.
              Having said all that, I don't think splitting up the country is easy. We've gotten more autonomy in the recent "sixth state reform" and the increase in bureaucracy and confusion this has lead to
              • >Divorcing is expensive
                and in this case would not change a thing. 'wat we zelf doen, doen we beter'(what we do ourselves, we do better) = BS, just look at flanders' government.

                • by prefec2 ( 875483 )

                  My proposition is driven mostly from frustration over the issues in Belgium. As an outsider I hate it that I can do nothing to end this unpleasant situation for Belgium. And concerning the nuclear plants, we might be affected when there is an major accident. I already have enough experience form the Chernobyl disaster. And that accident was thousands of kilometers away.

              • by prefec2 ( 875483 )

                My proposition was mainly based on the frustration over the Belgian "government". So to see, as a measure of last resort. I am totally open to any other solution. Something that works. All in all we need to get our act together in the EU. Presently, more and more the idea of a collaborating Europe goes down the drain.

  • by johannesg ( 664142 ) on Monday January 18, 2016 @03:01AM (#51320795)

    The thing may really be a problem, that I don't know. But I _can_ tell you that this whole affair has the stink of public manipulation heavily upon it. For months, we have been hearing about every little problem in that reactor ("the copying machine in the reactor ran out of paper. There was no risk of radioactive contamination."). Which would invariably be followed by "The paper in the copying machine in the reactor has been refilled. Experts say the risk of radioactive contamination is minimal." There have been 3-4 articles a week about things happening in that reactor, and most of them, at least to my non-expert eye, looked really rather like business as usual, while at the same time containing all the keywords that would set of alarm bells in everyone reading it.

    As I said, I have no idea if there's anything wrong in that reactor, but public opinion is clearly being massaged. We are supposed to be afraid. It is not normal for every tiny problem to be made into a series of news articles, and I'm wondering what is really behind this story.

    • So they shut down the reactor because of missing paper in the copying machine?

      Because each time they reported about it, the reactor in question had undergone an emergency shutdown.

    • by AmiMoJo ( 196126 )

      The articles are about things that are a little more serious than a lack of copier paper, in that they demonstrate that the plant operators are not being very pro-active in heading off problems before they happen. Rather they wait for stuff to fail before doing anything about it, because that's cheaper. Problem is that if something goes wrong and they are still waiting for that replacement part to come in and be fitted, bad things could happen.

      The deal was that they get to operate something that is highly p

      • by chthon ( 580889 )

        The main thing playing here is that originally the reactors were owned by the state, since a couple of years they are owned by the Groupe Suez, a holding which of course wants to do "money first, safety last".

    • by houghi ( 78078 )

      I can imagine this is because Electrabel had to pay back a lot of money due to overpricing. If the reactors close, they can claim, that as a loss, while at the same time increasing the cost of power.

      However they can not just close it, as there is nothing wrong. They saw that the public can clse it for them, like what happend in Germany.

      This would mean a closed power station that still costs money in maintenance and that means tax reductions.And all the while clai,ing that they would want it open, so they co

    • Vermont Yankee was cracking up all the time and Massachusetts was concerned. http://nepr.net/news/2015/10/1... [nepr.net]
  • by BDeblier ( 155691 ) on Monday January 18, 2016 @03:03AM (#51320803) Homepage

    Speaking as a Belgian, I'm worried about a French multinational in control of the plants not giving a damn about anything but their own profit margins. We hear about incidents (so far in the non-nuclear parts of the plants) at least once per month. The problem is that unlike Chernobyl, Belgium's nuclear plants are in highly populated areas. In case of a real incident, we might have to evacuate and relocate several million people. Not to mention that the parts of our neighbors that could be affected are also pretty densely populated. The deal referred to exists purely to transfer a lot more money to said multinational. This money might be better spent either on a new generation of nuclear plant, or better, reusable energy. Unfortunately, said multinational also appears to have zero interest in investing in new power plants in Belgium.

  • while nuclear is a great source of energy, it requires constant vigilant maintenance and an electrical distribution system. why not invest in solar+battery for your entire country? they are low maintenance power harvesting systems that use a naturally occurring nuclear power, a star. stars are fantastic power sources because one's like ours are stable for billions of years, require no maintenance, have perfect security and their own multi-planetary power distribution systems. making solar panels and sod

    • why not invest in solar+battery for your entire country?

      Because Belgium doesn't see the sun for half the year, and when it isn't cloudy then it sees it only for a few hours in the day?
      Look I point out a lot that solar isn't baseload energy, but in this case I'm going to expand on that by saying that it is the most retarded choice of technology given the climate and location.

  • The reactor in Borssele is 3 years older than the ones in Tihange, and is built on the northern border (on the Schelde), the ones in Gravelines are not that old, but are built on the south border of Belgium.
  • by tinkerton ( 199273 ) on Monday January 18, 2016 @03:49AM (#51320893)

    While the belgian reactors are old , I think the current worries are mostly a result of the tight regime they're being run at now. Strict safety procedures means lots of powerdowns and lots of news events. This constant media attention then leads the neighbors to start worrying. That's the main issue at work now. It's not due to inherent dangers becoming too high.

    That aside, the fact that the reactors are old and still necessary is a symptom of the historical bad approach to nuclear energy that we had in the west. Nuclear energy boomed when the technology was immature, and lots of large scale plants were built with very long lifetime. This slowed down the evolution of the technology. For good evolution you need fast rotation of the plants and good diversity. Then enthusiasm waned and now the west is stuck with very old plants and no mature technology, and the technology here is as good as dead. We don't even have any experience in handling the end of the lifecycle of a plant. China, India and Iran are starting with better knowhow but the conditions are more dangerous (highly populated areas, earthquake prone..), so it looks like they have some disasters in the making too.

     

  • I saw the title... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by bluegutang ( 2814641 ) on Monday January 18, 2016 @04:56AM (#51321047)

    and thought "This looks like another post by user 'mdsolar' spreading FUD about alternatives to solar power".

    And guess what, that's exactly what is was.

    Why does Slashdot tolerate his continual shilling and trolling? Does he pay them?

    • Yes, along with HughPickens and StartsWithABang and the rest. Every crackpot gets articles posted here as long as they come up with the cash.
  • "Doel, Tihange remain: Electrabel radiates, the citizen pays"

    "The campaign manager of Greenpeace Energy, complains that the federal government (Michel I) failed, and will force obsolete nuclear plants to remain open.This choice creates new power shortages, it makes a transition to renewable energy impossible and offers Electrabel more profiteering that will be paid by the taxpayer. "

    Mr Eloi names the Belgian minister of the Interior "Nuclear Ali". And given the state of the reactors, I fear this will turn o

  • The real issue is Belgian politics, where no true statesman exists any longer, and even if there were, wouldn't get anything done because of it's convoluted and absurd political systems anyhow. Fact is, for decades they are in the inability to have a grand or even major energy-policy. They just muddled on and on. And they currently leaning towards an unrealistic 'green revolution" with windmills and solar - which recently saw the energy-bill rise with 80%, because of equally absurd subsidies by the state, o

  • Apparently, physical security is poor. Bad for a place with active terrorist cells. 'And the Doel 4 reactor was also shut down urgently in August 2014 after a leak in the turbine hall, caused by tampering, gushed out 65,000 litres of oil lubricant. Belgian prosecutors told AFP the investigation into who was responsible is continuing, and they do not rule out terrorism or an "act of vengeance".'
  • by peon_a-z,A-Z,0-9$_+! ( 2743031 ) on Monday January 18, 2016 @11:59AM (#51322763)

    One of the rare times where, after many users have provided counterarguments against mdsolar's negative posts in the past, we as a group need to resort to directly attacking the character and motive of all posts by mdsolar.

    http://slashdot.org/submission/5458403/20-nations-nuclear-facilities-said-to-be-vulnerable-to-cyberattack [slashdot.org]

    http://slashdot.org/submission/5439281/why-james-hansen-is-wrong-about-nuclear-power [slashdot.org]

    http://slashdot.org/submission/5415059/portions-of-land-at-san-onofre-nuclear-plant-may-be-contaminated-navy [slashdot.org]

    http://slashdot.org/submission/5373577/the-attack-of-the-nuclear-hucksters [slashdot.org]

    Why are we still accepting such biased submissions from mdsolar?

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