Everyday, we see more indications that the global environmental movement is ready to give a hearing to nuclear energy and the role that it can play in helping to constrain greenhouse gas emissions while supplying reliable and affordable electricity.
I just found another good sign this morning, as E/The Environmental Magazine, is featuring a number of articles on nuclear energy in their current issue.
While I think the editors at E should be applauded for tackling the issue, and I believe that in many ways they've clearly worked to be even-handed, there are a number of areas where they fall short. I'll detail some of those areas now, as well as point to some additional resources of information on NEI's Web site:
A Nuclear Phoenix?
The uranium supply is also an issue. On the spot market, uranium prices have soared as existing reactors have worked through supplies from mothballed plants. Demand is projected to exceed supply and push prices higher. The shortfall in uranium mining can be at least partly made up in uranium enrichment (an outgrowth of atomic bomb development), but capacity is limited there, too.We've tackled the issue of uranium supply many times, most recently this past March. Essentially, our position remains that short-term strains on the system shouldn't be misinterpreted as a long-term trend. For more, click here and here.
Uranium enrichment also aggravates both global warming and ozone depletion. The single remaining uranium enrichment plant in the U.S., Paducah Gaseous Diffusion in Kentucky, emits highly destructive chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs), used to dissipate heat generated by the compressors. And the plant is fired by two large, extremely dirty coal power plants.This is an old Helen Caldicott talking point that we've debunked before, first here and then here. And finally, here's a detailed response from USEC that we last quoted back in December 2005:
Caldicott Assertion A: Uranium enrichment uses 93 percent of the CFC gas released annually in the United States.Living With Radiation
USEC Response A
That calculation is based on 2001 data, when USEC was operating two enrichment facilities. That year, USEC consolidated production at its Paducah plant.
The shutdown of the Portsmouth, OH plant and improvements made in control of CFCs at Paducah have enabled USEC to reduce CFC emissions by about two-thirds.
The Paducah gaseous diffusion plant was built in the 1950s. USEC plans to replace it with highly efficient gas centrifuge technology, which will use no CFCs. The American Centrifuge Plant is expected to begin operations later this decade.
Caldicott Assertion B: Uranium enrichment uses electricity generated by coal-fired plants.
USEC Response B
USEC purchases the majority of its electricity from the Tennessee Valley Authority, which produces electricity using a supply mix of 61% coal, 29% nuclear and 9% hydropower.
The remainder of USEC's purchased power comes primarily from natural gas and nuclear plants.
Despite industry campaigns, it’s unlikely most people will ever be totally comfortable with nuclear plants as neighbors.Really? I suggest you take a look at the public opinion data the industry has been collecting since November 1998 that seems to refute that position.
Nuclear Hydrogen: The Clean Byproduct
For more on nuclear energy and hydrogen, click here.
Some typical scare tactics from the usual suspects who can't offer any evidence to back up their claims. For more on food irradiation, click here.
No Nukes, Go Nukes: Two Views
From an interview with Aiden Meyer of UCS:
Is it feasible, given the lack of immediately affordable alternatives, for European countries like Germany to announce nuclear power phaseouts?But of course, Meyer ignores more recent news that Germany won't be able to meet its aggressive emission reduction targets without nuclear energy, and the changing political situation on the ground.
This question inaccurately assumes that there is a “lack of immediately affordable alternatives.” Germany and other European countries are aggressively expanding power generation from wind and other renewable resources, even as they pursue a wide range of energy-efficiency improvements in every sector of their economies.