Monday, November 07, 2005

10 reasons that nuclear power is not the answer

At Laurie's request, here is the antinuclear argument in 700 words. It is only a draft at the moment, but I may be run over by a tram tomorrow, thats a good excuse for anything

NP does not provide an answer to global warming because:

1 Electricity Produced by Nuclear Power (NP) is not CO2 free
"The use of nuclear power causes, at the end of the road and under the most favourable conditions, approximately one-third as much CO2-emission as gas-fired electricity production. The rich uranium ores required to achieve this reduction are, however, so limited that if the entire present world electricity demand were to be provided by nuclear power, these ores would be exhausted within three years. Use of the remaining poorer ores in nuclear reactors would produce more CO2 emission than burning fossil fuels directly." -

2 Conventional NP offers an insignificant contribution to world energy needs
The finite nature of uranium reserves mean that a fourfold expansion of the world's nuclear fleet would exhaust the known global reserves of uranium. It would produce maybe 5% (maybe less)of the world's energy needs for some thirty years, then that would be it.

3 Fast Breeder technology means uncontrollable nuclear weapons proliferation
The plutonium-driven fast breeder reactors could make a more significant
contribution, but this would mean kissing goodbye to any notion of
preventing the spread of nuclear weapons to rogue states and terrorists, because there would be so much plutonium around, there is no way we could keep it from falling into the hands of terrorists.

4 NP possession now implies Nuclear War later
No country has developed nuclear weapons without first having a nuclear power programme. That is what the fuss is about in Iran and North Korea.
If we have weapons, we will almost inevitable using them at some stage. America has already used them once, on the Japanese.

5 NP is not economic - and is not insured
Greenpeace has calculated that nuclear power stations are insured for only about 0.01% of the total value of an MCA (Maximum Credible Accident).

6 Routine discharges of radioactive materials cause cancer
There is a vast amount of writing on this subject, but it is not necessary to develop it here, since it could be argued that a few local cancers are a small price to pay if nuclear power saves us from the catastrophe of global warming, and the relatives of the cancer victims could be compensated. The low level Radiation Campaign is a useful site for this information:

7 Nuclear Power Stations are vulnerable to terrorist attack
9/11 demonstrated the acute vulnerability of the structures of western civilisation to attack from terrorists motivated by suicidal religious convictions. We cannot hope that humane and rational considerations would inhibit terrorists from using the same technique on one or more NPS. It would be consistent with the modus operandi of Al-Qaeda to do this kind of high profile action. It is a moot point whether a jumbo jet would breach containment, but it would certainly disrupt the coolant circuits sufficiently to cause releases, and a critical incident (major meltdown) cannot be ruled out.

8 The waste problem is not solved
Some nuclear wastes have radioactivity that remains dangerous to human and animal health for 250,000 years. What right do we have to dump that problem on our descendants for the sake of a few years worth of electricity?

9 Nuclear power stations are vulnerable to flooding as sea levels rise
They are mostly built near the sea, for cooling and waste discharge purposes.

10 NP would suck funding away from the real long term solutions which are energy efficiency and renewable energy.
Nuclear power was developed through massive state subsidies as part of the nuclear weapons development programme. These R+D costs are not included in conventional nuclear power costings. In the UK, these expenses were hidden from parliamentary inspection in the post-war public accounts as "Repairs to Public Buildings". NP was a spin-off of the nuclear weapons effort.

The NP programme died off in the 90s, ironically not so much through the activities of the green lobby as through the policies of Mrs Thatcher, who although a staunch supporter of NP, insisted on privatising it. When the City took a look at the books, they did not like what they saw, and decided not to buy into it.

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