Nuclear power no help against climate change
Leslie Kemeny (The Age 31/12/08) quotes the nuclear-powered European Union laughing all the way to the bank.” In fact, nuclear power is going ahead only when fully or mainly owned by the government, as with France’s company AREVA.
In the USA nuclear plants rely on the Price Anderson Act – which provides tax-payer insurance against serious accidents (seeing that no insurance companies will provide this), and any new plants depend on increased federal government subsidy, and government responsibility for nuclear waste disposal.
The costs of nuclear waste disposal, including decommissioning old nuclear plants are almost inestimable, as these costs keep ballooning out. Nuclear waste disposal is a growing problem, world-wide now best exemplified by the current turmoil in the USA over the proposed Nevada nuclear waste dump at Yucca Mountain.
Kemeny’s real argument is that nuclear power fights global warming..Dr. Bill Keepin, a consultant to the Energy Foundation of San Francisco, has estimated it would take 1,000 large new reactors in the U.S. and 5,000 worldwide (about 10 times the existing numbers) to replace coal generation at a minimum cost of $5 trillion, leaving five sixths of the greenhouse gas emissions untouched, as electrical generation only accounts for one sixth of the problem.
Meanwhile the entire nuclear fuel cycle, from uranium mining, with its many intermediate stages, and involving much heavy transport, through to burial of wastes is a significant source of carbon emissions.
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