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Nuclear a contributor, not a solution, to global crisis

Can nuclear power be green and safe?

Socialist Worker Online Tony Staunton Dec 09 – the persistent problems with nuclear power

The threat of climate change has led some in the environmental movement to back nuclear power as a green source of energy.

But nuclear power is not part of the solution – it is part of the problem.

Nuclear reactors pollute the planet. Every stage of the production of nuclear power releases carbon dioxide into the environment.

The mining, processing and enrichment of uranium releases a huge level of emissions, as does constructing reactors, decommissioning reactors, and transporting and storing the lethal waste products.

Some say that we need new nuclear plants or we’ll run out of energy. By 2017 most existing reactors will be shut down, along with aging coal-fired plants…………

Producing nuclear power is expensive. The estimated initial cost of replacing the decommissioned plants is £30 billion.

The taxpayer underwrites the entire costs of disposal of nuclear waste, which are currently estimated at £50 billion.

This money could be invested in sustainable, green and safe energy instead. But that would hit the huge profits that private companies can make from nuclear power.

Most worryingly, nuclear power is not safe.

There were 1,767 leaks, breakdowns, or other safety “events” at British nuclear plants between 2001 and 2008……………….

The French government is required to announce all nuclear incidents. There are currently 800 per year.

In July a heatwave shut a third of French reactors because rivers became too hot to act as a coolant.

As the earth warms, the impact on nuclear safety will be greater………………

The £1.8 billion Sellafield reprocessing plant takes nuclear waste from many countries for reprocessing or storage.

The plant – originally called Windscale – was the site of a serious nuclear accident in 1958. Its name was changed to bury its terrible safety record.

But it has continued to be plagued by leaks and shutdowns because of “technical problems”.

One radioactive leak went undiscovered for 14 months. A report printed in the Guardian newspaper last month identified a 32 million square metre footprint of hazardous radiation encircling Sellafield.

The cost of nuclear power is astronomical, both in financial subsidies and human and environmental degradation………….

The military and civil nuclear industries are wedded together.

High level waste from the nuclear base at Plymouth Devonport joins waste from nuclear power at Sellafield and elsewhere.

It’s no coincidence that the British government wants a new generation of nuclear power plants at the same time as it proposes to produce new nuclear weapons – the Trident replacement programme………….http://www.socialistworker.co.uk/art.php?id=19763

December 9, 2009 - Posted by | 2 WORLD, climate change, spinbuster | , , , ,

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