Against the decaying skyline here, a one-of-a-kind engineering project is rising near the remains of the worldâ€™s worst civilian nuclear disaster.
An army of workers, shielded from radiation by thick concrete slabs, is constructing a huge arch, sheathed in acres of gleaming stainless steel and vast enough to cover the Statue of Liberty. The structure is so otherworldly it looks like it could have been dropped by aliens onto this Soviet-era industrial landscape.
Angelo Persichilli has a great article in todayâ€™s Toronto Star about the future of nuclear energy in this country.
While I donâ€™t trust those who tell me that nuclear energy is completely safe, likewise I donâ€™t trust those who say we have an alternative that can sustain our demands to run our businesses, our economy and â€” hereâ€™s the bottom line â€” the quality of life that weâ€™re used to.
I suspect that giving up nuclear energy at present wouldnâ€™t just be an economic decision, it would require a change in all our lives.
We used coal to power our economic growth two centuries ago, then oil in the last century. We realized that the first was polluting the environment and the second will soon be in short supply.
We already complain about the skyrocketing cost of energy, but itâ€™s going to be worse in the future when emerging economies like India and China reach their full potential.
Solar energy is not fully developed, we donâ€™t like wind energy because those big towers ruin the scenery and we turn against governments when the cost of energy is too high.
I understand that itâ€™s easy to criticize governments for sticking with nuclear power, but no one wants to tell voters that without nuclear energy weâ€™d have to change our way of life.
Weâ€™d have to use fewer cars and more public transportation. Weâ€™d need to turn down our furnaces and air conditioners, tell our children that the switch at the entrance of their room can be also used to turn the lights off, reduce our use of jet aircraft to conserve fuel and get rid of some home appliances.
Thatâ€™s the real debate: Are we ready to make those sacrifices?
This debate reminds me of a movie I watched some time ago, in which the family of a rich businessman was furious with him when they learned in the media he was making his money in the arms trade.
He apologized, but said that if he was going to give up the business, they had to give up their mansion in the city and their cottage on the lake, the SUVs, the Ferrari and the Armani clothes.
He told them he was supposed to make another delivery the next morning and had to leave for the airport at 5 a.m.: â€œIâ€™m not setting the alarm clock. Itâ€™s up to you. If you donâ€™t set it, Iâ€™ll miss the plane.â€
The alarm rang at 3 a.m.
A Castor railcar glows ominously in a thermal image, but the scene shows only that the cars’ contents are warmâ€”no hotter than a sweltering summer dayâ€”said Matthew Bunn, of Harvard University’s Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs.
"The decay of these atoms in the fission products from nuclear reactors releases a fair amount of heat, so [the canister] will look red" in thermal pictures.
The CASTOR trains are always hot topics, Bunn added. "For people concerned about the whole issue of nuclear power and whether the disposal or storage of nuclear waste is safe, the trains provide an obvious political symbol."
While the waste looks ominous, the temperature is a lot cooler than I thought it would be. It reminds me of being in California and the surfers surfing outside the nuclear reactors because the waste water heated up the ocean in the immediate vicinity. I like to be warm like the next guy but that takes it a little too far. via
The Rosneft drilling "blocks" are in the Kara Sea, where, according to a 2008 Bellona report, nuclear-powered underwater drilling ships are to be deployed sometime soon, as well as floating nuclear power plants. And why is so much of the Russian Arctic closed to foreigners? Who is hiding what? On the Domodedovo plane back from Anadyr to Moscow, I sat next to a geochemist who had been working on a research vessel scouting the Barents Sea for potential drilling sites. When I asked if safety procedures were policed, he rolled his eyes and ordered another drink.