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No use in the climate crisis — small nuclear reactors

Why small modular reactors are a climate liability, not a solution

No use in the climate crisis — Beyond Nuclear International By Linda Pentz Gunter
We’ve written a lot on these pages about small modular reactors (including again last week) and there’s a reason. Even though SMRs are a mirage, languishing as aspirational power point reactors loaded with false promises, there is a tsunami of license applications coming down for them. 

And we are saddled with a compliant Congress, White House and nuclear regulator, all of whom have bought into the Great Lie that SMRs can do something — anything — for the climate crisis. So they will likely rubber stamp the lot. Unless we stop them.

On December 2 it will be 80 years since the first human-made self-sustaining chain reaction occurred, at the Chicago Pile-1 under the leadership of Enrico Fermi and his team. That generated the first cupful of radioactive waste, which, along with the numerous other attendant problems of nuclear energy, has never been solved. Here we are, 80 years later, still relentlessly tilting at nuclear windmills. By now, we ought to know better.

You would think it would be obvious to anyone giving this technology a second thought, that given the immense lead times, high costs, uncertainties about design and safety, and the complete absence of a radioactive waste management plan, any nuclear reactor, large or small, is a climate liability, not a solution.

Nevertheless, the empirical evidence is being drowned out by denial. “We don’t get to net zero by 2050 without nuclear power in the mix,” US Special Climate Envoy, John Kerry, unhelpfully, and untruthfully, told a press conference during the COP27 climate summit while announcing SMR deals with Romania and Ukraine.

It’s possible that our illustrious leaders know better. They just prefer to maintain the creature comforts of the status quo, content to be the puppets of big polluters — fossil fuels and nuclear power — where the votes and, more importantly, the money are.

We can’t compete with the money. But we can change the votes. Elected officials want to stay elected. That means pleasing their electorate. So they need to hear from us. Because when it comes to pushing small modular reactors, we aren’t at all pleased.

The Beyond Nuclear series of Talking Points is designed to make our job easier in outreaching to politicians, the press and each other. Our newest edition — Unfounded Promises: Small Modular Reactors (SMRs) solve none of the challenges of nuclear power and make climate change and proliferation worse — published today, focuses on all the downsides to small modular reactors.

Each one in the Talking Points series — now up to No. 6 — provides simple messages and clear statements that show, without a doubt, and backed by the facts, that nuclear power not only has zero role to play in mitigating the worst of our climate crisis, but actually makes that crisis worse…………………………………….


November 28, 2022 - Posted by | Uncategorized

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