Nuclear energy is not a climate solution, because all new nuclear reactors take 10-19 years or more between planning and operation, and costs 4-5 times per kWh as new wind or solar energy. There is no such thing as a zero- or close-to-zero emission nuclear power plant. Even existing plants emit due to the continuous mining and refining of uranium needed for the plant. All plants also emit from the water vapor and heat they release. This is in contrast with solar panels and wind turbines.
The nuclear power industry spends a large amount of money on lobbying, campaign contributions, and advertising in its efforts to manipulate the public’s concerns about the climate crisis and energy insecurity, so that it can promote nuclear power as “clean energy.”In reality, nuclear energy is a dirty, dangerous, and expensive form of energy that poses serious risks to human health, national security, and U.S. taxpayers.
Jan Willem Storm van Leeuwen report linkhttps://assets.ctfassets.net/nu7do19tl28t/5LsYeqBkVqRoLH6h33uCJf/4379fdf3d95a5c0ed91431a75ac59735/climate-change-and-nuclear-power.pdf
“When it comes to building a nuclear power plant in the United States—even of a well-known design—the total bill is often three times as high as expected. Using a new analytical approach, the researchers delved into the cost overrun from non-hardware-related activities such as engineering services and labor supervision. Tightening safety regulations were responsible for some of the cost increase, but declining labor productivity also played a significant role. Analyses of possible cost-reduction strategies show potential gains from technology development to reduce materials use and to automate some construction tasks. Cost overruns continue to be left out of nuclear industry projections and overlooked in the design process in the United States.” https://energy.mit.edu/news/building-nuclear-power-plants Accessed 2 September 2021
“In economic terms, renewables continue to pull away from nuclear power, over the past decade the cost estimates for utility-scale solar dropped by 89 percent, wind by 70 percent, while nuclear increased by 26 percent.”
—Antony Froggat, coauthor, “World Nuclear Industry Status Report” (WNISR2020)
Quoted in Nuclear Energy—The High Cost of a Dying Industry, Energy News Today 6 October 2020, Johnna Crider https://newsforenergy.com/coal/nuclear-energy-the-high-cost-of-a-dying-industry Accessed 2 September 2021
The many stages of the entire nuclear fuel chain, from uranium extraction to resulting wastes, require resources and create radioactive contamination at every facility along way. In regions with multiple sources of pollution, communities are impacted by many combined factors that include health problems, increased pollution and environmental contamination, increased traffic and risks of accidents, economic liabilities, etc. These issues are not limited to those specific to a particular nuclear project, but include the full spectrum of issues in a given community.
In its report Considering Cumulative Impacts (1997) [PDF] the Council on Environmental Quality quotes the definition of cumulative impacts given in federal law: “the impact on the environment which results from the incremental impact of the action when added to other past, present, and reasonably foreseeable future actions regardless of what agency (Federal or non-Federal) or person undertakes such other actions” (40 CFR ~ 1508.7).
Undoubtedly, the consequences of human activities will vary from those that were predicted and mitigated. Projecting cumulative effects in planning any sort of project is the only way to effectively avoid or minimize adverse consequences, essential to developing appropriate mitigation and monitoring its effectiveness. This is perhaps especially true with nuclear energy, with its long-lived radioactivity.
Decommissioning is the process of dismantling closed nuclear power plants and removing radioactive waste while lowering the site’s residual radioactivity to safer levels. Traditionally, decommissioning takes decades to complete. Unfortunately, there is no regulatory requirement to conduct comprehensive, objective assessments of site contamination nor are there adequate clean-up standards to remediate the contaminated sites.
When nuclear accidents happen, they can be extremely disastrous.
Other accidents have been related to nuclear weapons.
And we are woefully unprepared.
Delegates to the First National People of Color Environmental Leadership Summit held on October 24-27, 1991, in Washington DC, drafted and adopted 17 principles of Environmental Justice. Since then, The Principles have served as a defining document for the growing grassroots movement for environmental justice.
After mining, uranium concentrate is separated from uranium ore at uranium mills or from a slurry at in-situ leaching facilities. It is then processed in conversion and enrichment facilities, which increases the level of U-235 to 3%–5% for commercial nuclear reactors, and made into reactor fuel pellets and fuel rods in reactor fuel fabrication plants. Nuclear fuel is loaded into reactors and used until the fuel assemblies become highly radioactive and must be removed for temporary storage and eventual disposal.
All ionizing radiation is harmful.
Gender is a major factor in determining who suffers harm from exposure to ionizing radiation
Established health organizations continue to minimize radiation’s health risks
“The connections between nuclear power and nuclear weapons have always been very close and are largely kept secret. Most governments take great pains to keep their connections well hidden.
“The civil nuclear power industry grew out of the atomic bomb programme in the 1940s and the 1950s. In Britain, the civil nuclear power programme was deliberately used as a cover for military activities.
“Military nuclear activities have always been kept secret, so the nuclear power industry’s habit of hiding things from the public was established right at its beginning, due to its close connections with military weapons.”
EESI Congressional briefings:
Spent nuclear fuel reprocessing is a complex chemical process that dissolves spent nuclear fuel in acid and separates its various constituents: uranium, plutonium and highly radioactive isotopes known as "fission products."
There has been renewed interest in reprocessing, partly based on false claims by the reprocessing industry that the technology simplifies the nuclear waste disposal problem by reducing the hazard and volume of waste. These claims are contradicted by recent data from the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE), which show that reprocessing greatly increases the total volume of radioactive waste, compared to direct disposal of spent fuel. (1) Reprocessing would not reduce the need for storage and disposal of radioactive waste. However, it would make it easier for terrorists to acquire nuclear weapons materials, and for nations to develop nuclear weapons programs. Commercial-scale reprocessing facilities handle so much of this material that it has proven impossible to keep track of it accurately in a timely manner, making it feasible that the theft of enough plutonium to build several bombs could go undetected for years. (2) A reprocessing facility would become a dump for the largest, most lethal source of high-heat radioactivity in the United States and possibly the world. Reprocesssing is dangerous, dirty and expensive. We are better off investing in renewable energy and conservation, rather than pouring billions of dollars into this costly and very risky endeavor. (3)
Nuclear energy is created when neutrons collide and split uranium atoms (fission), an ongoing process (chain reaction) controlled by neutron-absorbing “control rods.” This fission process produces energy that is used to heat water to about 520°F (271°C). The steam from the hot water is used to spin turbines, which are connected to generators, in turn producing electricity.
- • Uranium is the main fuel for nuclear reactors. It is one of the least plentiful minerals, but its radioactivity makes it a plentiful supply of energy, 300 million times that of coal. However, the danger comes in terms of the length of time that uranium stays radioactive—Uranium 238, the most common form, has a “half-life” (the time until half of its radioactivity decays) of 4.5 billion years. Uranium mining is done with a process similar to coal mining, with both open-pit and underground mines. U-238 must be converted to U-235 to power a reactor; it can also be processed into plutonium, which is used by the military industry. The U-235 is further processed into U-308 and shaped into small pellets. These are packed into 12’ rods, which are then bundled together into fuel assemblies and used in the reactor core. Most reactors in the United States use ordinary “light” water as a coolant, hence the facilities are located near large bodies of water from which they draw massive amounts of water. Other coolants, such as deuterium (“heavy water”), helium, liquid metal, or sodium, may also be used.
- • Originally, “spent” fuel that has been used in a reactor was to be reprocessed into new fuel. However, as one of the byproducts of the reprocessing is plutonium, which can be used to make nuclear weapons, that plan was ended for security reasons back in the mid-1970s. (Reprocessing is also more expensive than fuel from new uranium).
- • Radioactive waste continues to build up at reactor sites across the country: first, for years in cooling pools, using electricity to circulate water, and then, indefinitely, in steel canisters inside concrete casks.https://www.ucsusa.org/resources/how-nuclear-power-works, accessed 15 Jan. 2022
Small modular nuclear reactors: under 300 megawatts electric output, supposedly factory-built modules. Since the AP 1000 fiasco*, these have been the nuclear industry’s new reactor focus until the recent emergence of falsely-labelled “advanced” reactors (which are more accurately labelled speculative reactors). Speculative reactors include both light water and non-light water technologies. Speculative reactors can be larger than 300 megawatts.
*[Former] Senior Vice President of New Plants and Major Projects Jeffrey Benjamin “had first-line responsibility for Westinghouse’s nuclear reactors worldwide.” He was charged, according to a news release,“with sixteen felony counts including conspiracy, wire fraud, securities fraud, and causing a publicly-traded company to keep a false record.
The U.S. has more than 80,000 metric tons of spent nuclear fuel from commercial power plants, growing by about 2,000 metric tons each year.
More than 60 years of commercial nuclear programs has produced radioactive materials that will remain hazardous to humans and the environment on a time scale that far exceeds the existence of human civilization.
Climate change exacerbates safety issues; rising sea levels will affect coastal nuclear plants.This is the case at a nuclear waste site in the Marshall Islands as well as at commercial reactor sites such as San Onofre:
- Nuclear reactors are in many locations throughout the world—about 10% of the world’s energy comes from about 440 power plants. Process controls in these reactors continue to transition from analogue to digital, from specialized software to more general, increasing the vulnerability to cyber attacks. With 30 countries having operational reactors, and 50 new reactors under construction, this is a global problem, with concerns related to increasingly complex issues of safety, security (both physical and cyber), and nuclear nonproliferation and safeguards. The Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) first included cyber requirements in the early 2000s, later issuing their Cyber Security Rule 10 CFR 73.54 that was fully implemented by 2017.
Fun Fact: India's Kudankulam plant was hit by a cyberattack in 2019. https://thebulletin.org/2019/11/lessons-from-the-cyberattack-on-indias-largest-nuclear-power-plant/. Public information on the incident indicates the intrusion did not hit the plant's control systems or other safety systems, but....
Transportation of spent nuclear fuel and high level radioactive waste shipments are very dangerous cargoes and highly symbolic targets. They are also a danger to the transportation infrastructure, to the public health and to the long term economic viability of the location(s) where an accident and/or terrorist attack may transpire. No rhetoric used by the industry and/or DOE to obscure this reality can change this fact.(1)
- If either the Yucca dump or any interim storage facility is approved, thousands of truck and train shipments would move dangerous radioactive waste across the country, by everyone's backyard. Transportation routes would go through 43 states. Department of Transportation regulations require highway shipments of nuclear waste to take the most direct Interstate routes, even if these routes traverse densely populated metropolitan areas. (1)
- The more severe an accident, the more likely that radioactive material would be released to the environment. A low speed accident could unseat a valve or damage a seal, releasing radioactive particulates to the environment. The same event could crack the brittle metal tubing around the fuel. According to the American Petroleum Institute, heavy truck accidents occur about 6 times each million miles traveled. With thousands of truck shipments, at least 15 accidents are expected each year. (2)
Enriching uranium requires fossil fuels that leave coal ash and/or fracking waste, both of which degrade the quality of soil, water and air. There are tons of containers, gloves, booties, and hazmat suits, etc. that must be discarded as radioactive waste.
In an era of increased climate change, water has become a precious commodity—yet it has always been considered the source of all life by indigenous peoples, as heard in the common mantra, “Water is life.” The nuclear industry uses and contaminates massive amounts of water during processing and storage of waste. Community and environmental health impacts continue even at decades-old, abandoned nuclear sites, such as uranium mines and mills, as well as at currently operating nuclear reactors.
Use the legend on the left side of the map to switch layers on and off. Most icons are clickable to find more information: age, owner, and status of reactors, Department of Energy installat ions, uranium mines and processing facilities, proposed CIS sites, etc. Clicking each state capital reveals information about the governor, state agencies, and federal legislators. If the action layer is visible, you will see an icon for one or more acti ons across the country — click on its icon to learn how you can support it.