You are also looking thru the lens of our current situation. Very little was being discussed about the risks of global warming and greenhouse gasses back in the heyday of nuclear power, i.e. the 1970's. The last nuclear power plant in the US was built in the 1970s, which was when the last major accident that happened in the US (3 mile Island). That's not even considering Chernobyl.
If Th-based processes were chosen, that cannot easily generate Pu, nuclear proliferation won't be such a hazard. It would have far-reaching political consequences. E.g. USA is strictly against the Iran's nuclear program specifically because it might help produce bomb-grade fissile material.
235U-based processes are also pretty inefficient: about 1% of the nuclear material is burned when the (very active) fuel needs another cycle of refinement. Known Th-bases processes produce somehow less-active waste, and can burn more of the fuel before refinement is necessary.
A number of new, quite a bit safer, nuclear projects aimed to burn 235U and the current stockpiles of nuclear waste exist. But due to the fear-mongering, and likely due to relatively low coal and oil prices, they have little chance to be implemented, at least, in a reasonably short term.
No, I won't mind living near a well-maintained nuclear plant. In fact, I lived ~90km from one for 20+ years. I would be much less happy to live next to a major coal-burning plant, since it produces rather noticeable levels of radioactive contamination during normal operation .
Yeah, I'm surprised by how little attention this gets. A significant accident occurred that wasn't supposed to, and subsequent investigations showed that there were significant lapses, including from regulators. People can't be experts in nuclear plant design, construct, regulation, inspections, etc., so they need to be able to rely on the authorities in charge. When that trust is betrayed, it naturally has consequences. You can't just say to people, "Well, yeah, last time we told you to trust us we were completely wrong, but this time will be different!"
When problems happen that aren't supposed to happen, people are naturally going to be overly cautious and skeptical of future assurances. That's not an entirely unreasonable reaction.
Compare it to the damage of coal and it would not even show statistically.
Nuclear power plants are good neighbors: quiet and they pay a lot of taxes. Most of my neighbors when asked where the nuclear plant was pointed to the smokestacks on the coal power plant miles away.
Actually, yes! Statistically it's safer than living next to a coal-fired plant.
You see, that higher number implies a greater infrastructural and economic investment. Further, the sole large power plant in an area is automatically a military target, whereas if the same capacity were split across many facilities it becomes impractical to attack or control them all.
I'd love to see each municipality in the US above a certain population own and operate its own small reactor, using it to power the municipal utilities. But I do have a bit of a problem with a federal agency operating the only nuclear reactor in a 100-mile radius. It just ends up managed differently, becoming a political power center in addition to an electrical power center.
A higher number of reactors also means more chances that one of them fails because reactors that don't exist can't fail but those that do most certainly can.
As such the security gains, from infrastructure synergies, would have to be massive to actually be able to offset that.
Also, do you know of any reasons why the 1000th instance of a design might be less prone to failure than the 1st, or 10th?
Can you think of any reasons why a car door handle might be more reliable (for the same cost) as dirigible door handles? There are many thousands of car door handles in use daily, such that all common failure modes have been seen, and then addressed in later manufactured models. The handle that fails can make the next handle made better able to avoid that specific failure mode.
You want things to fail just a little bit, but not enough to hurt anyone or cost too much money. If something fails, that means it isn't over-engineered for its intended purpose. And the failure point may then be examined to make the next design better, and improve upon existing maintenance strategies.
That's a non-sequitur, there are alternatives besides coal just like there are more solutions to the problem than merely increasing energy production.
> Can you think of any reasons why a car door handle might be more reliable (for the same cost) as dirigible door handles?
A car handle is only one piece of a bigger machine, one could argue it's actually rather unimportant because if your car handle fails your car still drives, as such I'm not sure that's actually a good example.
How many iterations did we have on cars, as a whole system, so far? Over a century of designing cars and how close are we to a car that never fails? Which should be a way easier task than trying to make nuclear reactor safe, we had more time for it and even way more need for it, yet we are still nowhere close to having our "perfect cars", as such I just don't see how "perfect nuclear" is anywhere in our reach.
Wind and solar can not even cover all the required growth, specially not outside of the developed world.
Natural gas is a good option, specially to replace coal.
Modern nuclear plants however would be even better.
Using logic instead of emotion, yes I would. Hopefully the electricity costs would be cheaper.