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« Ten Big Lies! Deadly Gamble: Nuclear Power and You | Main
Thursday
Jun042009

The Argument Against Nuclear Power 

  • Climate Crisis: Nuclear energy cannot address issues connected to the greenhouse gas buildup. Nuclear power plants are too costly, take too long to build, and are too expensive to operate to affect the problem in time. In fact, investments in nuclear power deprive other efforts, such as conservation, energy efficiency and renewable energy, of much-needed funding.
  • Routine Radioactive Releases: All reactors release radiation into the air, water and soil and cannot be described as “emissions-free.” Children are especially vulnerable and cannot be shielded from cancer-causing radiation in the environment. In fact, national radiation protection standards fall short of protecting those most vulnerable to the harmful effects of radiation, basing their evaluation on impacts to a “standard” healthy, young, white adult male.
  • Terrorism: The opportunity for theft by terrorists of nuclear materials usable in even a "dirty bomb" would susbtantially increase if nuclear power is expanded. This could result in a level of destruction hitherto unenvisaged. Reactors are themselves terrorist targets and current ones are not even defended to the level of the 9/11 assault – 19 men in four teams, including air attack scenarios. Thirty-two U.S. reactors have fuel pools on the upper levels of the reactor building, shielded only by sheet metal and an open invitation to air attack.
  • Radioactive Waste: The entire nuclear fuel chain, from mining to milling, processing, enrichment, fuel fabrication, and fuel irradiation in reactors, generates radioactive waste. Nuclear reactors produce large amounts of long-lasting, deadly radioactive waste. There is no operating repository site anywhere in the world for high-level radioactive waste. “Low-level” radioactive waste, a misnomer, is dumped into landfills or incinerated, contaminating our water and air. Efforts to recycle it into consumer goods threaten our health.
  • Exorbitant Cost: Cost estimates for new reactor construction continue to soar and are unpredictable. Congress has already awarded the nuclear industry $18.5 billion in federal loan guarantees for new reactor construction and nuclear boosters are pressing for far more. When the utilities default on these loans, taxpayers will foot the bill. Nuclear power has already been subsidized to the tune of hundreds of billions of dollars over the past 50 years.
  • Accidents: New reactors, like old ones, are at their most vulnerable to accidents. Yet in the event of an accident, existing evacuation plans have been found to be unrealistic. Furthermore, the Price-Anderson Act ensures that the liability of an accident to a utility is capped at $10.8 billion. A serious reactor accident could cost as much as $600 billion, the balance of which would likely be paid by taxpayers.
  • Reactors and Bombs: Reactors and the nuclear fuel chain facilities they are connected to set the stage for atomic weapons production. Therefore the world cannot free itself from nuclear weapons while reactors and nuclear fuel chain facilities such as uranium enrichment and reprocessing factories exist. The tensions over Iran, North Korea, India and Pakistan perfectly illustrate this point.