The Telegraph's commentator also thinks, along with many nuke proponents that inhabit the world, that "there has never been a verifiable death" in the West from the nuclear power. (I suppose he doesn't include Russia as part of the West.)
In his own words, from The Telegraph 3/20/2011 right before he headed off to the Mayan Highlands:
Safe nuclear does exist, and China is leading the way with thorium
A few weeks before the tsunami struck Fukushima’s uranium reactors and shattered public faith in nuclear power, China revealed that it was launching a rival technology to build a safer, cleaner, and ultimately cheaper network of reactors based on thorium.
This passed unnoticed –except by a small of band of thorium enthusiasts – but it may mark the passage of strategic leadership in energy policy from an inert and status-quo West to a rising technological power willing to break the mould.
If China’s dash for thorium power succeeds, it will vastly alter the global energy landscape and may avert a calamitous conflict over resources as Asia’s industrial revolutions clash head-on with the West’s entrenched consumption.
China’s Academy of Sciences said it had chosen a “thorium-based molten salt reactor system”. The liquid fuel idea was pioneered by US physicists at Oak Ridge National Lab in the 1960s, but the US has long since dropped the ball. Further evidence of Barack `Obama’s “Sputnik moment”, you could say.
Chinese scientists claim that hazardous waste will be a thousand times less than with uranium. The system is inherently less prone to disaster.
Ah. China is known for its safety records for sure.
“The reactor has an amazing safety feature,” said Kirk Sorensen, a former NASA engineer at Teledyne Brown and a thorium expert.
“If it begins to overheat, a little plug melts and the salts drain into a pan. There is no need for computers, or the sort of electrical pumps that were crippled by the tsunami. The reactor saves itself,” he said.
“They operate at atmospheric pressure so you don’t have the sort of hydrogen explosions we’ve seen in Japan. One of these reactors would have come through the tsunami just fine. There would have been no radiation release.”
Then why aren't the nuke reactors in the world thorium-based, by now? Evans-Pritchard says it's because thorium cannot be made into weapons:
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.
Evans-Pritchard further says western-lifestyle needs nuclear power, and no one has died from nuclear power:
I write before knowing the outcome of the Fukushima drama, but as yet none of 15,000 deaths are linked to nuclear failure. Indeed, there has never been a verified death from nuclear power in the West in half a century. Perspective is in order.
We cannot avoid the fact that two to three billion extra people now expect – and will obtain – a western lifestyle. China alone plans to produce 100m cars and buses every year by 2020.
The International Atomic Energy Agency said the world currently has 442 nuclear reactors. They generate 372 gigawatts of power, providing 14pc of global electricity. Nuclear output must double over twenty years just to keep pace with the rise of the China and India.
And his parting shot:
So the Chinese will soon lead on this thorium technology as well as molten-salts. Good luck to them. They are doing Mankind a favour. We may get through the century without tearing each other apart over scarce energy and wrecking the planet.
This is my last column for a while. I am withdrawing to the Mayan uplands.
As the Fukushima I Nuke Plant accident has made abundantly clear to many people (clearly Evans-Pritchard is not one of them), it is the human errors that make up the accident - from the design of the reactor and the plant, fitting the pipes that don't fit, hiding the condition of the degrading parts and equipments and structures and the regulatory agency who helps the operator to hide them, to name only a few.
It doesn't quite matter how safe thorium is, when the most dangerous and unpredictable component of all is the humans.