barfle wrote:I have concerns about nukes - that simply means that, in my mind, questions remain unanswered.
Having retired from thirty years in a generating plant I'm hardly impartial, therefore will only take one of your questions, and answer only from my personal experience.
On heat rejection:
Yes, most Nukes dump more heat than similar sized fossil plants.
That's because they operate at lower temperature.
Where I worked the nuclear plant with 516 degreeF steam was about 30% efficient, the fossil plant adjoining with 1000 degree steam was about 40% efficient. Up the road a few miles we had combined cycle plants, which use a jet engine to drive a generator directly, and their hot exhaust gas feeds a boiler that runs another generator. Those darn things can do a shade better than 50% efficient. The heat from a fossil plant goes some out the exhaust stack, the rest either to the body of water or to air via cooling towers if it has them. Nukes of course have no combustion products to exhaust so it's all out one place.
There was a nuke design out there, the Gulf General Atomic plant at Ft St Vrain Colorado, which would have made 1000 degree steam if it had ever run. I thought it was a promising machine, but it had some mechanical difficulties that got compounded by management difficulties. Freeman Dyson spoke well of that design in his "Disturbing the Universe". I'd like to have seen it run.
So, dumping heat to the environment is not unique to the nuclear plants, just they're sorta hogs about it. Some of them have big cooling towers whose shape has become a scare symbol for anti nuke activists. The St Louis planetarium has exactly the same shape, a parabola rotated about the Y axis. It's a practical shape for a building that needs a lot of open space inside.
Where I worked the heat was a boon to the aquatic critters in the wintertime. We added about fifteen degrees to the water. Fishing was great right where the warm water came out, about two million gallons per minute, and the manatees (and later on the crocodiles too) loved it. In summer they'd head for cooler places and it looked barren, but they came back every winter . (All our power plants were popular with winter tourists for manatee watching.) Eventually they closed off the cooling system from the ocean, environmentalists were worried about the heat, and about all you catch anymore is big jacks and sharks. I guess the snappers couldn't get out to the reefs where they like to spawn. But the crocs are thriving and will probably become a menace before many more years. I think they got the manatees.
Maybe somebody here has experience in a plant up north - I imagine the great lakes fish would love a warm spot about January.
You Californians - do whales hang out at Diablo Canyon?
Barfle - here's a link to FPL's PR page, they're not unbiased but might address some of your other questions.
http://www.fpl.com/environment/nuclear/ ... _you.shtml