Nuclear has a carbon footprint, too

A Winnipeg Free Press reprint (Nuclear the only real alternative to fossil fuels, Advocate, Dec. 1) says nuclear plants are free of greenhouse gases.

A Winnipeg Free Press reprint (Nuclear the only real alternative to fossil fuels, Advocate, Dec. 1) says nuclear plants are free of greenhouse gases. The nuclear fuel system is a huge user of fossil fuels, from open pit and mining to plant construction to decommissioning, waste transport and storage. Bruce Power estimates 400,000 cubic metres of concrete alone to build its proposed two-unit nuclear plant in Alberta.

It takes 10 years to build a reactor. For the first six to nine years of operation, the plant is making up for the energy used in mining, construction, etc. Katherine Ling, in Scientific America, March 27, 2009. (Nuclear Power Cannot Solve Climate Change) quoted the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace discrediting nuclear power having “any significant role in reducing greenhouse gases.”

Nuclear power is now widely dismissed as a practical or cost-effective means to address global warming (Amory Lovins, Forget Nuclear, Rocky Mountain Institute, 2008). The International Energy Agency predicts that, in today’s policy climate, nuclear may drop to 10 per cent of global electrical supply by 2030, when renewable energy sources will provide 35 per cent of energy needs. Today nuclear has dropped to under 14 per cent of world energy supply (Bulletin of Atomic Scientists, Nov/Dec, 2008).

The “nuclear renaissance” is fiction.

Ontario has three nuclear power plants closed with equipment failure and often unreported spills and leaks. Atomic Energy of Canada’s replacements for them were rejected by the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission on safety grounds. Home insurance policies tell you that insurance companies don’t believe in nuclear safety either. There is no coverage for that.

If the same subsidies were applied to renewable energy development as Canadian taxpayers have given over to the nuclear industry (so far over $2 billion), clean and renewable energy would be much closer.

Ken Collier, Chair

Council of Canadians

Red Deer and Area Chapter