FACT SHEET #1 – Non-Nuclear Network
NUCLEAR IS NOT MAGIC BULLET FOR GLOBAL WARMING
Canadian Nuclear Association (CNA) ads say nuclear is “clean” – implying it doesn’t release greenhouse gases (GHGs). This is simply untrue and these misinforming ads should be pulled from the airwaves. The nuclear fuel system uses vast amounts of fossil fuels, which create GHGs - from the mining, milling and enriching of uranium, to nuclear plant construction and decommissioning, to storing and transporting nuclear wastes. Nuclear is not a “no-carbon” or even low-carbon energy system, such as are the renewable energy sources.
MINING, MILLING and ENRICHING URANIUM
The amount of higher-grade, uranium-bearing ore, such as is presently mined in SK, is declining. If nuclear energy expands then the grade of ore will decrease, and even more fossil fuels will be required and GHGs produced.
FACT: 162 tons of natural uranium has to be extracted from the earth each year to fuel one 1,000 Megawatt (MW) nuclear power plant. With lower grade ore this requires mining as much as 40,000,000 tons of granite, which requires vast amounts of fossil fuels. Attempts to remediate the millions of tons of radioactive tailings require additional fossil fuels.
Uranium enrichment for use in reactors is extremely energy-intensive and creates GHGs..
FACT: SK uranium sent to the U.S. is enriched using electricity from two dirty 1,000 MW coal-fired plants at Paducah, Kentucky. The U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) has reported that hundreds of miles of cooling pipes used in this enrichment leak CFC 114, a banned virulent ozone-depleting GHG.
NUCLEAR PLANT CONSTRUCTION and DECOMMISSIONING
Constructing nuclear plants requires massive amounts of concrete and steel, which require vast amounts of fossil fuels during production. Decommissioning these huge structures requires more of these fuels, creating more GHGs. Nothing, whatsoever, can ever be recycled from these plants due to the extreme radioactivity of all materials.
RADIOACTIVITY IS NOT CLEAN
It’s bad enough for the CNA to misrepresent nuclear as “clean” when it releases GHGs from cradle to grave. The nuclear fuel system is also radioactive from the tailings left at the mine site, to radioactive releases and spent fuel at the reactors. Uranium miners and the widespread victims of reactor accidents continue to be at greater risk of cancer. This makes a mockery of the depiction of nuclear being “clean.”
FACT: Each 1,000 MW reactors has radioactivity equivalent to 1,000 Hiroshima-sized bombs. When nuclear reactors melt down, as is bound to happen again, they cause untold cancers and suffering and contaminate vast regions. Some areas contaminated by the Chernobyl accident in 1986 will be unfit for food production for 600 years due to the half-life of radioactive isotopes like Cesium 137 and Strontium 90.
Main Source: Ch 1, 3; Helen Caldicott, “Nuclear Power Is Not The Answer”(2006).