I’m a regular subscriber to the online Grapevine and appreciate receiving my emailed version every week. I also appreciate that you feature Gwynne Dyer’s pieces and open up some space for issues beyond those immediately affecting island residents.
I was quite struck by his column published yesterday (Jan.6th, 2022) in which he very inaccurately and misleadingly (in my view) promoted nuclear power as a remedy for our climate emergency. I have been interested in this issue for many years particularly because of its huge potential threats to human health and safety.
Just today the article below came my way and represents a detailed and very comprehensive outline of the shortcomings and very real dangers of nuclear technology Written by experts with decades of international expertise in that field. It is written in a very accessible non-technical style, and I think would add a very balanced and articulate opinion to counter the arguments presented by Dyer.
Charles King (MD)
International Physicians for the Prevention of Nuclear War Canada
1691 Lacon Rd.
Subject: Four nuclear experts: “Nuclear is just not part of any feasible strategy that could counter climate change.”
This authenticity of this communiqué has been verified; see www.nuclearconsult.com .
For pdf version : www.ccnr.org/nuclear_climate_change_2022.pdf
Communiqué – Statement – January 6, 2022
Former heads of US, German, and French nuclear regulation and
Secretary to UK government’s radiation protection committee:
“Nuclear is just not part of any feasible strategy
that could counter climate change.”
Dr. Gregory Jaczko,
former Chairman of the
U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission.
Prof. Wolfgang Renneberg,
former Head of
Reactor Safety, Radiation Protection and Nuclear Waste,
Federal Environment Ministry, Germany.
Dr. Bernard Laponche,
former Director General,
French Agency for Energy Management,
former Advisor to French Minister of Environment, Energy and Nuclear Safety.
Dr. Paul Dorfman,
former Secretary of the UK Government
Committee Examining Radiation Risk from Internal Emitters.(CERRIE)
The climate is running hot. Evolving knowledge of climate sensitivity and polar ice melt-rate makes clear that sea-level rise is ramping, along with destructive storm, storm surge, severe precipitation and flooding, not forgetting wildfire. With mounting concern and recognition over the speed and pace of the low carbon energy transition that’s needed, nuclear has been reframed as a partial response to the threat of global heating. But at the heart of this are questions about whether nuclear could help with the climate crisis, whether nuclear is economically viable, what are the consequences of nuclear accidents, what to do with the waste, and whether there’s a place for nuclear within the swiftly expanding renewable energy evolution.
As key experts who have worked on the front-line of the nuclear issue, we’ve all involved at the highest governmental nuclear regulatory and radiation protection levels in the US, Germany, France and UK. In this context, we consider it our collective responsibility to comment on the main issue: Whether nuclear could play a significant role as a strategy against climate change.
The central message, repeated again and again, that a new generation of nuclear will be clean, safe, smart and cheap, is fiction. The reality is nuclear is neither clean, safe or smart; but a very complex technology with the potential to cause significant harm. Nuclear isn’t cheap, but extremely costly. Perhaps most importantly nuclear is just not part of any feasible strategy that could counter climate change. To make a relevant contribution to global power generation, up to more than ten thousand new reactors would be required, depending on reactor design.
In short, nuclear as strategy against climate change is:
• Too costly in absolute terms to make a relevant contribution to global power production
• More expensive than renewable energy in terms of energy production and CO2 mitigation, even taking into account costs of grid management tools like energy storage associated with renewables roll-out.
• Too costly and risky for financial market investment, and therefore dependent on very large public subsidies and loan guarantees.
• Unsustainable due to the unresolved problem of very long-lived radioactive waste.
• Financially unsustainable as no economic institution is prepared to insure against the full potential cost, environmental and human impacts of accidental radiation release – with the majority of those very significant costs being borne by the public.
• Militarily hazardous since newly promoted reactor designs increase the risk of nuclear weapons proliferation.
• Inherently risky due to unavoidable cascading accidents from human error, internal faults, and external impacts; vulnerability to climate-driven sea-level rise, storm, storm surge, inundation and flooding hazard, resulting in international economic impacts.
• Subject to too many unresolved technical and safety problems associated with newer unproven concepts, including ‘Advanced’ and Small Modular Reactors (SMRs).
• Too unwieldy and complex to create an efficient industrial regime for reactor construction and operation processes within the intended build-time and scope needed for climate change mitigation.
• Unlikely to make a relevant contribution to necessary climate change mitigation needed by the 2030’s due to nuclear’s impracticably lengthy development and construction time-lines, and the overwhelming construction costs of the very great volume of reactors that would be needed to make a difference.
Posted by the Nuclear Consulting Group, www.nuclearconsult.com .