Government spin doctors and the nuclear industry have been working overtime to repackage nuclear power as a green solution to climate change. They want to build new nuclear power stations, but they know we won’t want them if we know the reality – nuclear power is dirty and dangerous and not the answer to climate change.
- Nuclear power is not carbon emission free. The whole nuclear cycle from uranium mining onwards produces more greenhouse gases than most renewable energy sources with up to 50% more emissions than wind power. Even if we doubled nuclear power in the UK it would only reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 8%. This is because nuclear power only contributes to electricity generation which only accounts for up to a third of all carbon emissions (transport and industry account for most of the rest).
- Climate change is happening now. A new nuclear power station will take at least 10 years to build and longer to generate electricity. Wind farms can be up and running in less than a year.
- It’s expensive. The nuclear industry is massively subsidised by the British public. Sizewell B, the UK’s most recent power station cost the taxpayer around £3.7billion just to install Decommissioning and cleaning up all of our current nuclear sites is costing more than £70 billion.
- It’s not sustainable. The reserves of uranium ores used to generate nuclear power are going to run out. There is only 50 years worth of high uranium ores left in the world. There may be only 200 years left of all uranium ores including poor uranium ores which take more energy to mine and process and thus release more carbon emissions.
- Nuclear power threatens the environment and people’s health. It produces enormous amounts of carcinogenic toxic radioactive waste, some of which is dangerous for thousands of years. No safe solution has yet been devised to store it. In particular, there is evidence of cancer clusters linked to nuclear power production. Building new nuclear power stations would increase the most toxic high level waste five-fold. Read CND’s summary of the German government-commissioned research that shows increases in cancer in children under five living near nuclear power stations.
- Uranium mining kills. Uranium mining is the first step in the nuclear power cycle; it has taken the lives of many miners all over the world causing environmental contamination, cancers and nuclear waste.
- Nuclear accidents. The risk of terrible nuclear accidents like Chernobyl, Three Mile Island and Windscale (Sellafield) will plague a new generation of power stations as it did the first. Read more about these accidents.
- A terrorist target. Nuclear power carries with it the risk of nuclear terrorism. In this age of uncertainty, dirty bombs and attacks on power stations are a terrifying threat.
- The proliferation of nuclear weapons is inextricably linked to nuclear power by a shared need for enriched uranium, and through the generation of plutonium as a by-product of spent nuclear fuel. The two industries have been linked since the very beginning and a nuclear weapons free world requires a non-nuclear energy policy.
We need a safe, genuinely sustainable, global and green solution to our energy needs, not a dangerous diversion like nuclear power.