Misleading claims on nuclear as “clean”

Nuclear power, a new environmental threat CPA – The Guardian Peter Mac 28 Oct 09 Last week former Queensland premier Peter Beattie, union leader Paul Howes and the International Nuclear Academy’s Professor Leslie Kemeny followed former NSW Premier Bob Carr in advocating nuclear power as a supposed remedy for climate change.

Beattie and others are more cautious than Carr and Kemeny in expressing their support. Aware of the likelihood of a political backlash, they argue that “there is an argument for nuclear”, as one of a number of new energy options.

The cost of building, running and insuring nuclear plants is so astronomical that the US government has had to provide enormous subsidies and underwrite the insurance of the US plants. (After the Three-Mile Island and Chernobyl reactor disasters, insurance firms became unwilling to insure these facilities against accidents.)

The description of nuclear power generation as involving zero emissions is totally misleading. The critical figure for any power generation system involves the emissions given off during the system’s full cycle, not just during the plant’s operation. On this basis, nuclear power is surely one of the worst performers.

The nuclear energy cycle involves a huge level of carbon dioxide emissions in building the plant, mining and milling the uranium ore, remediation of the tailings, enriching the uranium, fabricating the reactor elements, cooling and disposing of the reactor water, storing, cooling and guarding the waste for 60 years and then transporting it to a safe storage site and guarding it – for 250,000 years!

Uranium enrichment also produces some chlorofluorocarbon gas emissions, which are subject to international bans (except for use in nuclear power stations), because they destroy the ozone layer and are also 10,000 to 20,000 times more damaging as greenhouse gases than carbon dioxide……………………

The mining corporations’ competing claims to be Australia’s environmental saviours are phoney and disturbing. But the uranium industry’s promotion of nuclear power for Australia is particularly dangerous.

 CPA – The Guardian – #1433


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