Aach --- again --- Aach --- wise again :)
The aging workforce comment was not meant to indicate that older individuals can't do the work on an individual level - but that a lot of nuclear workers retire and take their years of accumulated experience with them when they do. The work just isn't fulfilling enough for most to keep doing it when they could be fishing instead. There's a pressure/burnout factor as well.
Regarding cookie-cutter plants - in general this is a good idea, though you want several models so that one design flaw doesn't shut everything down.
I would propose that it's not saddling nuclear power with regulations that has made it a less-popular career choice - - it is the long-standing public perceptions about the industry that keep students from even giving it even a glance. Also, as with most power plants, the nuclear ones tend not to be in glamorous locations, and working conditions can sometimes be more akin to a construction site than a nice office. Long hours and sometimes less than competitive pay can also play a part. (In fact, the whole utility industry is struggling with aging workforce issues and attracting enough new employees to replace retirees.)
Regulations do, of course, play a part in the costs associated with nuclear, and these expenses are ultimately mandated by the public via their government. These required costs are often in stark contrast to the public's parallel expectation for cheap, reliable electricity and the frequent lack of understanding about the realistic options for producing this commodity in the vast quantities that are desired.
Posted by James Aach to Wattenblog at 1/19/2007 03:34:40 PM
Pic: Nuclear Mushoom Cloud with a red slash over it. Regular nuclear power has been is the safest energy source in history. No one died at Three Mile Island.