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Nuclear Power


It seems to me that I'm about the only one left in New Zealand that's willing to say what I think. Well, me and Cam Slater, I guess, oh and maybe Don Brash. So there's three of us. Everyone else is too scared to be labelled racist by fools who don't even know the meaning of the word.


Anyway, the topic of the day is nuclear power. This is a much-misunderstood subject surrounded by misinformation and emotion. So much so that even intelligent politicians who understand the reality are too scared to mention nuclear power. So it's timely to discuss the facts so that we can all be better informed, rather than just following what James Shaw says. Given that he's about the number one hypocrite in the country along with that overhyped supersized fraud with the pink hair, he doesn't have much cred left.


In New Zealand and other countries, environmental movements pull their hair out and cut themselves at the mere mention of nuclear. I think they call themselves the Greens or the Veggies here in New Zealand. In France, where a huge percentage of their power comes from nuclear, they have an opposition group with a spokesman called Les Verts who keeps getting quoted and in the rest of Europe, they use an angry little girl named Greta Thunberg to snarl about it.


You see, the thing about nuclear (fission) power is that it's the cleanest, greenest and safest baseload power available. Baseload means power that's always available, not power that relies on the sun falling on a solar panel or the wind blowing. These are unreliable. And the point needs to be made that they are all reliant on nuclear to work anyway. The sun is a giant nuclear fusion reactor. It is required to power solar panels. It creates wind by uneven heating of the earth's surface, and it moves water by heating into the sky so that it can rain and fill up the hydroelectric dams. So, like it or not, all of our energy comes from a big kickass nuclear fusion reaction.


Uranium is all around us. There's some in most rocks and even a bit in our bodies. It's been discovered over the years in New Zealand in quantity, particularly on the west coast of the South Island. But the quantities haven't been commercially viable. Uranium in the ground is not dangerous. When it's mined, it's turned into U3 O8, commonly known as milled uranium or yellowcake. Yellowcake is sometimes yellow and sometimes brown. It's put into 205-litre steel drums and sent to places for enrichment.


Yellowcake is relatively harmless as well. It's more toxic from the chemicals in it than from radioactivity. You'd have to ingest it in quantity to do any harm. Cleaning up a spill would only require overalls, gloves and a respirator. Yellowcake from Australia often transits New Zealand ports in standard 20ft shipping containers. I hope this fact hasn't caused any of you to hide under your beds. If it has, it'll be safe to come out in 2099.


So yellowcake can't do any harm, really. However, it needs to be enriched to be used in a power station. The isotope uranium 235 is only available at about 0.7% in yellowcake, so enrichment using centrifuges is required to bring it up to about 4%. At this point, it is suitable for nuclear power. Enrichment is not something you can do in the garage or in your bath. It's quite technical and can only be done in: Argentina, Brazil, China, France, Germany, India, IRAN, Japan, The Netherlands, NORTH KOREA, PAKISTAN, Russia, the UK and the USA.


The problem with letting 'baddies' do this sort of thing is that continued enrichment becomes useable for nuclear weapons. 20% enrichment is enough, but to reach critical mass, you would need 400kg of it, whereas if you enrich to 90%, you only need 28kg of it. But enough about this because the subject for today is the peaceful use of uranium.


So the 4% enriched uranium is converted into ceramic fuel pellets, which are then used to power a nuclear reactor. Put simply, nuclear fission in the reactor creates heat, turning water into steam that drives a turbine and produces power.


New Zealand has an installed power generating capacity from all sources of about 9.5GWe. 1.1 GWe of this capability is from burning fossil fuels. Don't worry about what a GWe is. Suffice to say, that's how much power we could produce each day if we needed it. We get close most of the time, but the problem arises when there is no wind and the dams aren't full. So to get what we need, we fire up the fossil fuel generators of which we have that 1.1GWe or 19% of our generating capacity. These require 2,500,000 tonnes of coal per year to run. The same nuclear power would require just 27 tonnes of uranium for the year. We imported over 1,000,000 tonnes of extremely dirty Indonesian coal last year. That's not good enough.


And what the Veggies won't tell you is that in 1975, 90% of our power was from renewables. In 1995 that was down to 85%, and in 2020, 81%. So we are going backwards despite the increased wind and solar. The growth in demand is outpacing our growth in renewables. So what to do?


Well, it just so happens that you can get a 1.1 GWe nuclear power station built for around NZD$ 11 billion. Add $500 million for Iwi and another $500 million for our Asian immigrants. They are bound to get on the gravy train sooner or later with their own treaty, perhaps called the treaty of' Sumdum Witecun', and for a nice round $12 billion, your problem is solved. If you think that's a lot, it is, but it's only 20% of what the current idiots spent protecting us from a disease that killed 46 people five minutes earlier than they would have died from underlying conditions anyway.


But where would we put this power station, I hear you ask, and I'm glad you did because the answer was decided in 1966. The government at the time was considering nuclear power, and they decided on Oyster Point on the Kaipara Harbour. It fit the bill for lack of tidal waves and earthquakes, a source of cooling water, not being too close to the population, and being close enough to the population for efficiency of transmission and access to a workforce. But, of course, these days, it's even simpler because some modern reactors don't require much of a water source and are incredibly safe, so they don't need to be plonked so far out in whoop whoop.


Safety has always been a concern with nuclear power, and a few incidents haven't helped. The worst was Chernobyl, but this was caused by faulty technology, cost-cutting and a lack of suitable training for the operators. Covering it up when it first happened didn't help either.


So safety is almost a non-issue now with modern technology and first world operators. I would be happy to live close to one and even work in one. I've included a graph below which you should study to show the relative safety of nuclear versus other sources of power generation and the relative emissions. The percentages would be even better when taken over a more recent time frame. One thing is for sure, it's better than coal.



By now, the Veggies and Les Verts and all his French friends will be formulating their response to this article even before I have published it, and their only remaining argument is where do you store all the waste from the spent fuel rods? Simple. Australia. And that's it for today's article………oh. Do you want more info on this? Why? Are you Australian? It's not complicated. Dig a big deep hole in the ground in the middle of Australia and throw it in there. No really. That's the best and currently most viable option. The fact that it hasn't been done yet is just because of procrastination. There are countries planning to do this and make money by importing nuclear waste.


Currently, most nuclear waste is sealed in stainless steel containers, then encased in concrete and stored at facilities specifically for the purpose. We just need to back up the Tesla, throw them in the back and drive them to holes in the ground. But we may not even have to do that because a Nobel peace prize-winning physicist called Gerard Mourou has designed a laser that is so powerful that future versions of it will be able to change the makeup of the atoms in the waste and make them almost harmless. Good on your Gerard. I'll have some of that, please.


So if you are worried about global warming, you really need to come to terms with nuclear power. The Chinese have. They plan to build 150 new reactors in the next 15 years. If you haven't heard of SMRs, you are about to. Small Modular Reactors https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Small_modular_reactor are being designed for remote areas and for large energy-intensive factories to take them off the grid. They are smaller, safer and more efficient. You'll have one in your house in 30 years. Get with the programme. #smr #nuclearpower #gerardmourou #dirtycoal


Check out my other blog posts and the rest of my site at www.burfoot.net and sign up for future updates on the contacts page.




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