Warning this is largely an excerpt from articles credited below. I hope to do some research to fill it out.
1) Increasing the number of nuclear power plants (currently around 450 globally) increases the risk of a catastrophic accident caused by an extreme weather event (bushfire, typhoon, floods, tsunami) and becomes more likely with increasing and wilder climate change.
2) Nuclear plants consume vast amounts of water, a diminishing resource in a warming world, and uranium mining pollutes groundwater.
Half of the world’s uranium mines use a process called in-situ leaching. This involves fracking ore deposits then pumping down a cocktail of acids mixed with groundwater to dissolve the uranium for easier extraction. This contaminates aquifers with radioactive elements. There are no examples of successful groundwater restoration.
3) Nuclear plants take at least 7-10 years to build – we need solutions that can be operational now so that fossil fuels can be turned down now.
4) A 2017 report by WISE International estimates, that over its life cycle, nuclear power produces 88-146 grams of CO2 per kilowatt hour of electricity. Wind power emits 5-12 grams.
5) If we replaced 70% of global energy use with nuclear power we’d run out of recoverable uranium in six years.
6) Nuclear plants are very expensive to build and often suffer cost blow outs along the way. Renewables are much cheaper and more reliable.
7) Nuclear power is a precursor to nuclear weapons. More countries with nuclear power means more countries with the potential to produce nuclear weapons. The second Iraq war, plus the leaving-alone of North Korea, have that nations need weapons of mass destruction to deter bigger States such as the US.
8) Nuclear waste remains radioactive for millions of years and there’s still no safe way to store all of it, or to maintain responsibility for that period of time.
In the 1970s, the US army built a concrete cap to seal away 3.1 million cubic feet of radioactive waste on Runit Island, which is part of the Marshall Islands. Today, rising sea levels threaten to bring down the entire structure, releasing the radioactive waste into the lagoon. The US government has refused to help, saying it’s the Marshall Islanders’ problem now.
9) Uranium mining is unsafe for the environment and workers.
10) In 2009 the European Commission found that about 70% of uranium used in nuclear reactors comes from Indigenous lands. Mining means even more dispossession and destruction for them.
11) Nuclear power is a centralised power source that requires lots of up-front capital and a large distribution grid, and massive taxpayer subsidy. Wind and solar provide opportunities for local councils and local communities to build facilities that are tailored to local needs, possibly independent from the grid and community controlled.
Originals: Peter Sainsbury Sunday environmental round up. Pearls and Irritations 11 July 2021
Simon Butler 10 reasons why climate activists should not support nuclear. Climate and Capitalism 23 June 2021