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Opinion: It would be insane to expand nuclear power to combat climate change

Opinion: It would be insane to expand nuclear power to combat climate change

Canister storage at San Onofre
San Onofre Nuclear Generating Station – Dry canister storage for nuclear waste Southern California Edison

A recent statement was issued by former nuclear regulatory top-dogs from the United States of America, France, Germany, Great Britain, and Great Britain. Joint statementWe oppose nuclear power expansion as a strategy for combating climate change. Why? There’s not a single good reason to build new nuclear plants. Here are ten solid arguments not to.

1. Nuclear is too slowThe design and construction of the new generation of commercial nuclear plants, also known as Advanced and Small Modular Reactors (ASR), is still decades away. The latest Report from the International Panel on Climate Change informs that limiting global warming to 1.5°C (2.7°F) means “achieving net zero carbon dioxide emissions globally in the early 2050s.” Wind and solar farms can be up and running in just a few months or years.

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2. It is too expensive to use nuclear energy. Renewables like wind and solar are already the world’s Cheapestform of energy. By 2019Utility-scale renewable energy prices have already fallen to half of what they were for nuclear. Consumers would be paying more for their energy if they expanded nuclear power.

3. Nuclear is neither non-polluting nor carbon-free.. While operating nuclear plants don’t emit carbon dioxide, mining and enrichment of uranium are carbon intensive and pollute the air with chlorofluorocarbons. Radioactivity is regularly released from nuclear plants into the air and water. The United States already has 85,000 metric tonnesHighly radioactive commercial spent fuel oil waste, the most hazardous pollutant known to mankind.

4. The problem of permanent disposal is technically insurmountable. Though the Nuclear Waste Policy Act of 1982 mandated construction of a permanent deep geologic repository to isolate nuclear waste for a million-plus years, there’s still no progress. For the foreseeable future, commercial nuclear plants will be de facto nuclear waste dumps.

5. Nuclear is non-renewable. Like oil, coal, and natural gas, uranium can only be obtained from a finite source. The United States imports uranium. Nearly halfIt imports uranium from Russia, as well as its two closest allies, Kazakhstan (and Uzbekistan).

6. Proposed “temporary” storage solutions so-called consolidated interim storage sites —are a diversion. A proven geologic repository for spent nuclear fuel doesn’t exist anywhere on earth. Governors TexasAnd New MexicoThey are fighting against interim facilities in their state for fear of becoming permanent dumps.

7. Nuclear The waste dry storage canisters that are used across the United States are thin-walled (1/2 – 5/8 inch). unsafe for storage and offsite transport They’re susceptible to short-term cracking but can’t be inspected for cracks or monitored to prevent radiation releases. Other countries use thick-walled (10-19 inch) metal casks that are designed for protection against cracking.

8. When it comes to nuclear, there is no room for human error and natural disaster.This is evident in the disasters at Chernobyl and Fukushima. Humanity can’t guarantee the safety of current nuclear reactors let alone ensure that future societies will stay clear of nuclear waste dumps for a million-plus years.

9. Terrorist attacks can be carried out on nuclear plants.Whether it is still operating or storing nuclear waste. In the open, dry storage canisters are found. The ease with which Russia captured the Chernobyl site as well as the Zaporizhzhia nucleus during the invasion of Ukraine demonstrated the vulnerability to malfeasance.

10. The idea that Small Modula Reactors may save the day is magical thinking. Roughly Ten thousand SMRsIt would be necessary to affect climate change in time. This would create thousands more radioactive dumps and provide opportunities for both nuclear accidents as well as weapons proliferation.

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To address the climate crisis, we must reduce carbon emissions as quickly and cost-effectively as possible. That nuclear can’t deliver on this and should be banned is the outspoken position of the former head of the Nuclear Regulatory Commission, Gregory Jazcko.

The “all hands on deck” logic of politicians who support expanding nuclear energy is faulty. Every dollar spent on nuclear is a dollar that has not been invested in energy efficiency or faster, cheaper renewables. Expanding nuclear will slow progress towards solving the climate crisis.

Sarah Mosko, a licensed psychologist, sleep disorders specialist and freelance environmental writer, was born in San Diego, but now lives in Orange County.

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