The News That Matters about the Nuclear Industry Fukushima Chernobyl Mayak Three Mile Island Atomic Testing Radiation Isotope

Climate change


As well as radioactive wastes, the uranium/nuclear industry releases greenhouse gases, increasing global warming.

At successive steps in the uranium/nuclear cycle, carbon dioxide is released into the atmosphere. This is shown above, with black dots as the carbon rising. The industry also uses enormous amounts of fuel – as electricity and in the huge amounts of oil in transporting uranium, nuclear fuel and wastes.


In the large diagram above – there is one aspect missing in the story of the nuclear cycle, and of its carbon emissions.

This aspect is bevoming critical now, with very many reactors, world-wide, reaching the end of their functional life.

How to get rid of them? How to dispose of a huge dead building which has itself become a nuclear waste?

The word “DECOMMISSIONING” – is one of those lovely Wobbly Words – covering up the fact that it really means a huge destruction and engineering job, in which greenhouse gases are released into air, water and land.

Nuclear power plants need plentiful water for cooling so are usually near the sea or on rivers. …….With sea levels likely to rise for at least the next 1,000 years, bolstering the flood defences of the world’s many coastal reactors looks set to become a more costly and time-consuming job — one that could last for centuries……………

Nor are inland river-cooled reactors invulnerable to global warming. Hot weather makes it difficult to keep them cool and operate safely. The hotter it gets, the more frequently they may have to close, just when power demand is highest

Nuclear power and global warming.

  • Real costs of nuclear, are more than for wind power, energy from bio-wastes and some forms of solar energy, and are increasing, while renewables costs (wind, solar) coming down
  • Nuclear power can reduce carbon dioxide emissions only from electricity generation (Australia’s C02 emissions 35% from electricity, 65% transport, industrial, agricultural,land clearing)
  • Most reactors now due for closing down, while few being built. Lead time for new reactors around 15 years or more. To make any effect on greenhouse gas emissions would require 20,000 reactors. Not only not likely to happen, but could not happen in time to be effective against global warming.
  • Nuclear reactor’s electricity generation process in itself low C02 emissions. but the total nuclear fuel cycle  is a high C02 emitter:

uranium mining – milling -transport -uranium conversion – enrichment – transport – nuclear fuel fabrication – building of reactor – reprocessing – building of storage – transport – storage–  building of eventual burial site – process of burial – destruction of reactor at its life end – transport – burial of reactor.

  • High energy use required to initially build and power reactor
  • proponents of nuclear energy stress the expected huge growth in energy consumption, and they neglect to mention the single most effective (and economic) measure –  energy efficiency.
  • proponents of nuclear power stress importance of “baseload” energy. Technologies now exist for solar, and wind farms to provide baseload energy, and manage issues of “intermittent energy” (esp with “smart grids)

Nuclear power and sea level rise  – All reactors on sea coasts endangered by sea level rise

Over the next hundred years there will be significant sea rises, one meter or more, and many closed nuclear reactor sites could be flooded, including the stored nuclear waste. That could contaminate much of the coast lines for decades.

Besides those in France, many nuclear reactors in Japan, the US, the UK, Belgium and China are located on or near sea coast or rivers. For example, (see map) most of the UK’s nukes are on the coast

Cooling needs of nuclear reactors dictate a location at sea or at a large river. A reactor with an output of 1000-MW electric power has to get rid of 2000-MW thermal power. That is why the majority of the world’s 430 or so nuclear reactors are located on sea or river sides. Since 1900 the global sea level has risen by 10 to 15 cm. By 2100 sea levels could rise by another 60 to 110 cm. At the same time many sea coasts, for example in England, are gradually sinking.

Although the French nuclear utility EdF tried to play down the risks during the flooding of Blayais (see also WISE News Communique 523.5123: ‘French reactors flooded by storm, backup safety systems fail’), some media and politicians described the flooding event as a near-core-melt accident.

By 2025, several nuclear sites are predicted to be underwater: Hinkley Point on West Coast, Dungeness and Sizewell on the South East coast, and the BNFL reprocessing plants and other nuclear installations at Sellafield. Military nuclear sites are vulnerable, too. It would be better therefore to decommission nuclear facilities immediately after closure.


The dying commercial nuclear power industry hoping for a rebirth, came up with one great whopper of a lie – that nuclear power is The Solution to global warming.  Mind you, the very same people had been denying global warming for decades

However, the fossil fuel industries suddenly saw a lifeline for themselves  ‘climate change’. If the world can be conned into nuclear power, then the fossil fuels can keep burning on, until that (late) day, when nuclear power actually gets going.

Now that it is pretty well known that nuclear, is limited, supplying only electricity. is costly, and non-renewable, and  not even clean, the nuke lobby now calls nuclear A Solution – a slightly more subtle lie.

It’s going to have to be people, people everywhere, in their millions, who put a stop to this lie.

Governments seem to have now locked themselves into agreeing with this lie. After all, China, USA, Britain, France, Russia, India, Israel etc all need nuclear power, to maintain their nuclear weapons. Other governments, like Iran and North Korea, feel that they should have nuclear weapons, too.

Governments are beholden to corporations – AREVA, Westinghouse, Rosatom, BHP, Cameco……… You need to remember that corporations really have no brains – they have one mindless goal – corporate profit, and their executives are not able to think outside that mindset. Poor things, it’s hard for a highly paid executive to start using his or her brains with the inecitable result of unemployment

Nuclear power – a greenhouse polluter and a non-solution

Claims that nuclear power is “greenhouse free” are nonsense. Substantial greenhouse gas generation occurs across the nuclear fuel cycle…….

The world’s 440 operating power reactors, with about 364,000 MWe of total capacity, produce about 16% of the world’s electricity. Coal, gas and oil account for four times that amount — about 64%. So to replace fossil fuel generated electricity with nuclear power would require a five-fold increase in the number of reactors, from 440 to about 2200. The cost of the additional 1760 reactors would be several trillion dollars. . Global warming: Nuclear power no solution | Green Left Weekly



  1. How much cement is needed to build a reactor?
    I understand that the making of cement is such a huge
    contributor to climate change that when China passed
    up the U.S. in admissions they had a separate line item
    for contributions by cement.

    Comment by Pamela Burton | November 7, 2009 | Reply

  2. Is it not an alarming red flag that the 2003 Euro heat wave was centered in France, where the many nuclear plants were generating so much heat that cooling adequately was impossible (hence forced shutdowns)? The heat dissipation technology is clearly inadequate to disperse it beyond the local climate, so, given the heat trapping effect of existing greenhouse gases, how can we not recognize nuclear as a direct and significant contributor to the heat problem? The idea of dramatically ramping up this contribution in nearly every densely inhabited local climate is very worrisome and does not seem to be on anyone’s radar. The transfer of waste heat to waterways and ultimately to oceans cannot be a positive either.

    Comment by Linda Ogren | December 6, 2009 | Reply

    • The concern you bring up is related to the thermodynamic principles of a heat engine, if the delta t for the environment is too little, any cooling system will fail, just like AC, or refrigerators. It had nothing to do with nuclear.

      Comment by Bill Scout | February 10, 2011 | Reply

  3. You forgot to tell the taxpayers and rate payers who are spending billions on these nuclear as well as conventional power plants that oil contaminated sea water such as that in the Gulf of Mexico will cause your plants to shut down?

    Comment by John Randle | May 27, 2010 | Reply

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