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Nuclear History - Past and Present

  1. Jul 18, 2007 #1
    I've been wondering how the Atomic Age/Cold War Era has changed our cultures, and people.

    In Finland, we have, at the moment, quite lot of discussion about nuclear energy, as we are building our fifth NPP, and planning for the sixth. There's also The Finnish Model of solving the nuclear waste question, and plans to begin mining in South Finland, as our soil is rich in uranium.

    Naturally, there is some opposition to all this. People get emotional, take sides... either you are for, or against. - What's interesting in this, is, seems that it's mostly quite shallow discussion, based on little or no knowledge, and if you are against nuclear power, you are labelled as "green".. which is considered unpatriotic. I think the majority of thinking people in this country are for nuclear power.

    Yet I see no stories/articles in our media about nuclear power. There's not much interest in people. If you try to open discussion.. well.. about the history of nuclear power, or try to find more philosophical point of view of man vs. the atom, or cultural, psychological.. there'll be only silence. If I push it little further, you get answer like, "ah, it all happened in foreign countries, they are militaristic, they have atom bombs, it is so different from Finland, it doesn't concern us."

    Well, I think, if this country is investing heavily on nuclear power, it's not just energy thing. My guess is that fear keeps people silent. Perhaps they think that nuclear energy is a necessary evil, - you use it, and don't think about, then all will be ok. Or that such considerations are meant only for the professionals. Then there's the language barrier; although all Finns study english language at school, and also french, german, russian - they seldom use these languages, and when confronted by spoken or written english, they will get shy, or even get hostile reaction - "we are Finns, why we must listen this foreign thing.." It's funny.

    Then I thought, is it like this in other countries? By googling I easily find such stories I am thinking about, for example, about the history of Oak Ridge: When Oak Ridge Changed the World, Secret City - The Oak Ridge Story. - Why is this? Is it because cultural difference, or is it because cultural aspects of nuclear technology is such highy specialized field of interest, that you can find no one to discuss with, from a country that has only some 5 million inhabitants?
  2. jcsd
  3. Jul 18, 2007 #2


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    Staff: Mentor

    It's more the case of a different time.

    Nuclear energy was realized back in 1945, with the development of nuclear weapons - e.g. the two weapons used at Hiroshima and Nagasaki. Many of the scientists and technicians who worked on the fundamentals of nuclear energy were European immigrants who were displaced by WWII.

    After the war, the enormous energy potential of nuclear energy was explored, and it was promoted by the government and the scientific community. However, the downside of nuclear energy was not appreciated and many technical challenges were underestimated.

    Other nations like Finland came later to the technology of nuclear energy. First it was with the Asea Atom BWRs at Olkiluoto and the Russian VVER-440s at Loviisa. IIRC the Russians take their fuel back for reprocessing, unless that has changed.

    Now mining and presumably conversion and enrichment (unless Finland exports the ore for conversion and enrichment) an expansion of the nuclear industry. And then there is the backend part - spent fuel and/or the option of reprocessing, which still requires diposition of the fission products.
  4. Jul 23, 2007 #3


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    As I recall, the Fins had something that was dubbed the "Eastinghouse" reactor.

    It was a Russian built reactor; but with a western-style containment building for safety;
    which the Russians didn't offer.

    Dr. Gregory Greenman
  5. Jul 25, 2007 #4
    Yes, they westernized a russian VVER here.

    The Finnish builders called the process as "transforming a Moskvitch into a Mercedes". Also it had some effect to safety of later russian VVER-type reactors, because in Loviisa it was first times when the russians got in touch with western safety. Robert Darst has written about it... I think in book "Smokestack Diplomacy".
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