The State’s Corruption of Nuclear Power

There’s a lot of misinformation and confusion out there about nuclear power. Environmentalist wackos are against nuclear because they are against energy; as environut Paul Ehrlich infamously said, “Giving society cheap, abundant energy would be the equivalent of giving an idiot child a machine gun.1 Others think nuclear power plants can explode like nuclear bombs (they can’t). Still others fret about where the waste would be stored, the same types who wonder about landfills. They don’t realize the waste problem is far worse with other types of energy, or that nuclear is safer and cleaner too.2

The current nuclear technology is superior in many ways to fossil fuel energy production, but thorium-based nuclear energy has many advantages over the current uranium-based systems. As noted here, in a thorium-fueled nuclear reactor, “1) it cannot be used for producing the raw material for atomic bombs, 2) it cannot meltdown under any circumstances, and 3) after 500 years its waste will be no more dangerous than the ashes from a conventional coal burning power plant.” Point 1 should give you a clue as to why this did not become the dominant technology. Thorium does not provide material for nuclear bombs, while uranium reactors do. (See Safe nuclear does exist, and China is leading the way with thorium (“US physicists in the late 1940s explored thorium fuel for power. It has a higher neutron yield than uranium, a better fission rating, longer fuel cycles, and does not require the extra cost of isotope separation. The plans were shelved because thorium does not produce plutonium for bombs. As a happy bonus, it can burn up plutonium and toxic waste from old reactors, reducing radio-toxicity and acting as an eco-cleaner.”); Obama could kill fossil fuels overnight with a nuclear dash for thorium (“After the Manhattan Project, US physicists in the late 1940s were tempted by thorium for use in civil reactors. It has a higher neutron yield per neutron absorbed. It does not require isotope separation, a big cost saving. But by then America needed the plutonium residue from uranium to build bombs.”); see also the video below around 7:10.)

  1. See also Lew Rockwell’s great Anti-Environmentalist Manifesto, and his The Enviro-Skeptic’s Manifesto

  2. See Petr Beckmann’s The Health Hazards of NOT Going Nuclear (Amazon; PDF) and his pamphlets The Non-Problem of Nuclear Waste and Why “Soft” Technology Will Not Be America’s Energy Salvation, mentioned in my post Access to Energy

Comments on this entry are closed.

  • Very nice, Stephan. You just managed to leave out all of the other institutional crony-cap aspects like Price-Andersen liability caps, utility rate guarantees, etc.

    Mind if I cross-post this at my Mises blog?



  • Can someone please explain to me how nuclear is a libertarian solution when it requires government intervention at every stage to exist?

    Nuclear power has never and will never exist on the free market due to national (and international) security concerns and the inability of the industry to find private insurance.