Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Nuclear energy. Consequences of Japan Earthquake and Fukushima incident

In addition to my previous post about nuclear energy, I would like to detail what is the impact of this sequence of catastrophes.
Surely the big earthquake and tsunami account for most of the life losses, Fukushima will account for a small amount, even in long term. Life losses related to the nuclear incident will be limited because Japanese government is able to take any measure to prevent it. But this comes at a cost that may be higher than that of reconstruction and economic restart of the earthquake affected regions.
Fukushima incident, like any nuclear spillage, will require costly actions of:
- population evacuation and relocation costs: temporarily distributed in emergency host sites, evacuated citizens shall receive contribution for getting a new house somewhere else. new cities (or neighborhoods) will be constructed. Just think that a flat for a typical 3 people family will cost 2-300k$ on average. Add 15k $ car per family
- the region which may be impacted by radioactive effects is not known, at this time, but it may be huge and Japan is a densely populated region. Dicing a number, let's say that 1% of Japan population will be affected by relocation: that's 1.3M people
- radioactive environmental tests in short and mid-term: costly equipment shall be used to monitor status and modification of radioactive impacts on environment. Just imagine rastering a region of 100 square kilometers with earth-air-weather sensors and elaborating a huge and complex amount of data.
- long-term screening for nuclear-related diseases: this means that about 2 M people shall be screened periodically to look for potential effects derived by radioactive exposition.

Now, if I were pure fact-oriented, I would like to estimate the benefit-cost-ratio of building this nuclear power plant, derive the advantage of economic savings with respect to "other" power technology, and add the cost of this incident. I need too much data, but I am sure there are people who have this data and I hope they will publish it.
Anyway, since I am not purely fact-oriented, I try to imagine what means to me -a man in his forties with a family, a job, a car, several hobbies, and few good friends- what means to me being picked with just my dresses and a lot of fear, hoping the rest of the family is safe and dry, and being putted in an alien city, and everything to restart again. And, with me, thousands of other people in the same situation.
I cannot monetize this cost, I am sorry.

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Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Nuclear energy. A delicate matter

Italy is now in a confusing and chaotic discussion about nuclear energy, because of a law decree (2008-06-25) that allows the construction of new power plants based on nuclear fission technology.

But Italy decided, in 1987, to repeal the norms that gave the central government the power and the resources to select the location, decide about the "risk compensation" and allow the (at the time) public utility ENEL to invest in nuclear power plants abroad.

Now, we are going to vote (again) in a referendum, to repeal the new law decree.

Just after the new referendum proposition, a "Nuclear Forum" started an advertising campaign to promote the use of the forum, to discuss ideas, improve knowledge and increase awareness about the delicate matter of nuclear energy.
The nuclear forum (Italian) seemed to be a good idea, initially. But a recent decision of the self-disciplining committee of advertisment blocked the video, since it is factious and subtly oriented towards nuclear energy.

To make matters worse, the referendum is structured in a typical legalese way, with the result that if you DO NOT want nuclear power plants in Italy, you have to mark YES.

My opinion is to mark YES to this referendum, because I believe - no, I do not "believe", I assume the position, after evaluating several pros and cons, that nuclear power plants constitute an unbearable risk, and even the benefit-cost ratio is too low to consider the option.

I try to outline the facts here, I'll write some in-depth posts soon:

Issues (pros and cons and pros-that-actually-are-cons):
- Risks for power plant and waste management: impact evaluation is too "optimistic", root-cause analysis is shallow both in interrelation and time: long-term effects on nature and humans, disease. Even risks are not well identified
- Waste management: disposal and storage costs, in a long term
- Fissile material procurement and long-term scenario
- Economic development
- Energy independence
- Energy total cost
- Commissioning time and energy needs


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I just decided to restart this blog. I keep old posts, although they are strictly adherent to one of my previous work experiences.
I keep them because this blog is going to be an archive of thoughts and ideas.
The main objective of this blog is, now, collect what caught my attention in a certain period, during the constant information overwhelming that happens to us.
Then, I will periodically refresh my memory with what I wrote. It' like watching an old photobook just to re-discover my past.

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