The case against nuclear power

Posted by bex — 8 January 2008 at 7:03pm - Comments

See all updates about nuclear power.


With the government about to announce a new generation of nuclear power stations, we've published our case against nuclear power - and for the real solutions to climate change and energy security.

You can download the full briefing as a pdf but here's a quick run-down of why nuclear new build can't keep the lights on and actually threatens our ability to reduce our carbon emissions:

• Even if Britain built ten new reactors, nuclear power can only deliver a 4 per cent cut in carbon emissions some time after 2025. Even the Government admits this (Sustainable Development Commission figure). It's too little too late at too high a price.

• Most of the gas we use is for heating and hot water and for industrial purposes. Nuclear power cannot replace that energy. And it's a similar case for oil as it's virtually all used for transport - nuclear power can't take its place.

• Indeed, 86 per cent of our oil and gas consumption is for purposes other than producing electricity. So nuclear power, which can only generate electricity, is almost irrelevant.

• The real solutions to the energy gap and climate change are available now. Energy efficiency, cleaner use of fossil fuels, renewables and state of the art decentralised power stations like they have in Scandinavia. Together they have the potential to deliver reliable low carbon energy quicker and cheaper. They are also safe and globally applicable, unlike nuclear. But these technologies will be strangled if cash and political energy get thrust at nuclear power.

• Gordon Brown very recently committed the UK to generating around 40 per cent of our electricity from renewables by 2020. If he means it, Britain could become a world leader in clean energy and his case for nuclear evaporates. At the moment Germany has 300 times as much solar power and 10 times as much wind power installed as the UK and has given up on nuclear.

• Margaret Thatcher promised 10 new reactors when she was in power. Just one was built. Going for nuclear allows politicians to project the impression that they are taking difficult decisions to solve difficult problems. In reality going for nuclear simply will not solve our energy problems. Other low carbon technologies will.


Download the briefing here.

Usual drivel from Greenpeace, this time about nuclear power. Personally, I don't want to pay the Russians billions for gas or oil, or be left at their behest. Wind and wave power is a joke in terms of efficiency and the damage the apparatus does to the environment; nuclear power is the only option, or I guess we could live in the dark.

Greenpeace used to be useful organisation, now all it does is endlessly block progress. I guess that's what happens to all single issue pressure groups, eventually.

Why do the so called goverment always turn to nuclear power......they're fat and lazy and don't care about the people or the enviroment, just how much they can fill thier own pockets!!!
Nuclear power is'nt progress it's an easy option for them.
If people don't want to pay billions to other countries for energy resorces, cut down and do your bit to save energy, reduce emisions and find cleaner, save ways to harness energy.

We're not put on this earth to drain it dry........mother earth has looked after and given to humanity for millions of years, about time we stop taking and start giving.

I'm no expert, but the above arguments seemed completely flawed to me.

I accept Nuclear power can cause devastation if things go wrong and we are storing up problems for the future on where to store the toxic waste.

But as far as the more pressing issue goes regarding CO2 emmission Nuclear seems to make sense to me.

The article states the most CO2 emmissions are cause by the burning of Gas and Oil used by transport and that Nuclear power can only generate electricity so this doesn't help. Surely thats because lorries, vans, cars, some trains all use fuel derived from oil.

So for transport it makes sense to me we should be forcing the use of electric vehicles and using renewable/nuclear power to provide the electricity to power these vehicles. Then there is the problem of air travel/Ferries which I can see at the moment would be impossible to use electricity so these will have to rely on techology to reduce CO2 emissions.

As far as heating is concerned if we converted to electric heating and all our electricity came from renewable/nuclear then CO2 emmissions are reduced.

Also the reality is more and more electricity will be consumed as air conditioning, more homes, more commercial properties, street lighting, electrical gadgets and hopeful electrical transportation.

Wind Farms have their own problems with wild life, what to do when there is no wind and the devestation they cause the natural beauty.

We don't have enough sunlight to use solar power.

Also there are technical limitations on how far electricity can travel so I understand you cannot suppy London with wind farms off the north coast of Scotland.

I don't have the answers but slamming down every idea just because it has a flaw will just destroy the human race. You have to deal with the issues having most impact and disposal of nuclear fuel has less of an impact than CO2 emmissions.

BTW its not about saving the planet, the earth will always survive given a few million years, its life as we know thats risking extinction.

I have been a Greenpeace supporter and member for longer than I can remember. In practical terms, I cannot agree with Phoenix' views. The reality is that there is little alternative to nuclear power for the foreseeable future. All methods of power generation have their advantages and disadvantages. Returning to the Bronze Age as advocated by extremists is simply not an option.

In truth, private power generating has to make a profit to invest in future technology and infrastructure. Remember that pension funds investing in companies do so that pensioners can get an income in old age. There are many other factors that make profitability important so it's not just about directors' salaries.

There is no place for idealism in this debate, whether it is from Greenpeace, the Government, environmental extremists or the criminals that cuts down the forests (they are also contributing to climate change).

Like I said, I have been a Greenpeace supporter for many years. Opposing nuclear power is not good. Successfully opposing nuclear generating industry could result in people having to cut down trees for fuel in winter or using expensive fossil fuels adding to climate change simply because there was not enough power to go around. Folks like phoenix, no matter how well intentioned, are taking too narrow a view.

To conclude, I feel I must add some of my own credentials. I am a successful businessman in a low carbon industry. I do not own a car and travel mostly by public transport. My family vehicle is a one litre Nissan Micra. I do not fly when going on holiday. I recycle almost everything and have energy saving light bulbs and turn everything off standby when not in use. Oh, and I've turned down my home and office thermostats by one degree.

Perhaps Greenpeace should be working with the UK Government on how best to implement the nuclear policy given the problems of waste disposal. Better to have influenced the outcome in that way than to have stood on the sidelines waving banners and wringing hands.

Haz, you'll still have to pay the Russians for oil and gas whether or not there's nuclear power.

Nuclear power produces electricity; it doesn't contribute to our heating and transport needs. Most of the gas we use is for heating and hot water, or for industrial purposes. Virtually all oil is used for transport. In all, 86% of our oil and gas consumption is for purposes other than producing electricity.

So how does nuclear electricity improve security of gas or oil supply?

The real answer to oil dependence is improved vehicle efficiency, improved public transport and reducing the need to travel.

For heating, we need to start using decentralised energy and CHP.

Cheers,

Bex
gpuk

2parasoldier, we lay out our energy solution at www.greenpeace.org.uk/solution. In short, it's decentralised energy, based on efficiency, renewables and combined heat and power.

It's not only an alternative to nuclear power - it's an alternative that will actually work, and will significantly reduce our emissions / ensure energy security. Nuclear won't. From our point of view, decentralised energy is the pragmatic, realistic energy solution, and the claims Labour and the nukes industry are making about nuclear are pie in the sky.

New nuclear power is a doomed attempt to shore up our ailing energy system. An energy system based on large, remote power stations is grossly wasteful (two third of energy is lost before it even reaches our homes and businesses), so we're arguing for an efficient, flexible energy system based on renewables and combined heat and power.

To work with the government on how best to implement nuclear would be a nonsense for us: even leaving aside the waste, cost, inefficiency and siting issues, nuclear won't stop climate change so we wouldn't support it.

On working with government instead of waving banners, we've been working to influence energy policy on several levels, but not all of it's very visible. We've worked with the Conservatives, we've had countless meetings with Labour, we've worked with local authorities, we've produced reports and documentaries, we've made submissions to energy reviews and audit committees... And of yep, when it's come to the crunch, we've taken direct action.

Anyway, thanks for your support :)

Bex
gpuk

OK, limiting the argument to CO2 emissions as we seem to agree on safety/waste.

Theoretically, what you're saying makes some sense. Practically though it's impossible.

On heating, you say "if we converted to electric heating and all our electricity came from renewable/nuclear then CO2 emmissions are reduced". Apart from this being an extremely inefficient way of producing heat, there are a few problems with this.

One: we wouldn't be able to build enough nuclear plants, for reasons of cost, siting, waste storage, vulnerability to climate change-induced flooding etc. Even the gvt and nukes industry are only suggesting building ten plants, to replace the ailing reactors we have, which together only provide 19 per cent of our electricity. And, if our (massive) heating needs were to be met by electricity as you suggest, our electricity needs would sky-rocket.

Two: nuclear and renewables may both be able to run on the grid as long as both are making relatively small overall contributions, but both can't expand beyond a certain point without there being operational conflicts.

Three: experience in other countries (see Finland) shows us that nuclear sucks investment - and, more importantly, political will - away from renewables.

Four: nuclear locks us into our current, inflexible centralised model which is inherently massively inefficient.

So for electricity, it makes sense that we should be going full-pelt for renewables - along with CHP and efficiency. You might be interested in this study in which scientists prove that Germany can be 100% powered by renewables.

For heating, it makes more sense to use combined heat and power (CHP). Heat is a by-product of electricity generation, and at the moment we just let that by-product go up in smoke, and then use a load more energy (usually gas) to generate heat separately. CHP is the most efficient way possible to burn fossil fuels, and also allows us to make the transition to cleaner fuels (eg biomass) as they become available.

On transport, yep, and as well as electric vehicles powered from low carbon electricity, we need massively improved vehicle efficiency, improved public transport systems and to reduce the need to travel (especially for business).

And yep, point taken on your last paragraph :)

Cheers,

Bex
gpuk

Rampant xenophobia aside, we'll still have to be paying someone for the fuel to run nuclear power stations. And that includes Russia. The UK is not exactly what you'd call self-sufficient in the stuff.

web editor
gpuk

Well, what is wrong with the dark? Light a candle once in a while, instead of relying on electricity to run your life!

So, then what happen to the extremley dangerous Nuclear waste? Well, we'll just dump it in the sea, like everything else, shall we? You should be a politician.

Don't you want to protect this beautiful land you were born, and will die on?

Many folk don't like nuclear technology. Part of me doesn't either. However, this is not a black and white issue, good or bad. Nuclear power may have to be part of the electricity generating solution.

Question: Do you see mass energy efficiency, enough to cut energy use by 20% in one year? A. No

Question: Are there enough offshore wind turbines, tidal lagoons, wave machines, decentralised CHP systems going in? Well no!

What I read into Greenpeace at the moment. Lots of green dodgma and retrospect potest. The nuclear debate is good as done, barring a few legal challenges. What Greenpeace should be doing is being the sales organisation for energy efficiency, microgeneration and renewables, or become an energy sector irrelevance.

Question: Do you see the mass consumer market at the moment putting en masse solar panels, duble helix wind turbines on there roofs, or digging in ground heat pumps?
No, not many, not just yet! Consumers wish to buy and purchase their plasma screens, trade in their CRTs but not pay the same money for a solar heat panel for the roof.

Dr David King is correct to comment on Green ideologs, and highlight the need to live with and part encompass the technological. The days of rubber dingies, wetsuits and blocking sellifield waste outlets is long gone.

Greenpeace needs to ditch the ideogology, and grasp the Climate Change reality so as to attract consumer action, rather than repel consumers into inaction or indifference?

Hi,
I'm not totally against all of the issues greenpeace and other such pressure groups protest against. However i have to totally disagree with your thoughts about nuclear power. Nuclear power is the safest and most efficient form of renewable energy there is. In the UK, yes there is a stockpile of plutonium, but that is what reprocessing is there for to use up the stockpile and use it to create new nuclear fuel. One of the comments I have read on the website stated that sellafield is one of the most radioacvtice places in the UK if not the World. Well im sorry to say no its not. The most radioactive place in the UK is actually Cornwall. This is natural radiation from the type of rocks in the area. This means that people living in cornwall are being subjected to more radiation than anyone working or living near a nuclear site. I work on one so i should know. Also I don't know if your group will even comment on this, but a wind turbine was blown over by the wind! I mean what a joke! A wind turbine is meant to use the wind to produce electricity not to fall over becasue of it and also they can't even be used in high winds because they can break! Surely this means that they are a danger to the public if they can fall over in high winds. I'm 19 and I've been given a great opportunity to work on the most technical site in the world and also one of the most up and coming industries in the UK. I've got a great job and really enjoy it. The nuclear industry relies on groups like yourselves to put pressure on us so that we are constantly making progress on our on site safety. Keep up the good work. In Cumbria 11-12 K people work on a nuclear site and a further estimated 100 K people work indirectly with the nuclear industry in Cumbria. It would be insane not to firther developments in the UK. Maybe if people stopped complaining about nuclear power and actually got involved then they would quickly realise that it is the best industry to be involved with at this time and it would actually give you lot something to do instead of complaining about things that make this country a great one.
Chris

50 percent of the uranium reserves are in canada and australia, two western stable and friendly countries
we can also reused a part of the nuclear waste and the plutonium of the nuclear weapons

the raw material in the total cost of nuclear electricity is 5 percent not 80 for oil and gas
so nuclear is relevant to protect our energy, and it s not xenophobic to say that
remenber the two oil crisis, or the russian ukrainian gas war
most of the oil countries are unstable, often dictatorships
venezuela, russia, turkemesitan, niegeria, saudi arabia

i prefere to be dependent on australia and canada

What the hell phoenix ? “Fill their pockets”, “fat”, “lazy”. are these meant to be serious arguments? Your choosing to denounce the very government that provides you with the lifestyle that you and millions others have grown accustomed to. Yes nuclear power is not a perfectly environmentally friendly answer, but it’s a feasible, well understood technology that provides a practical solution to the real big problem… climate change. We don’t have time for to experiment with visionary power sources. A complete renewable approach to energy is obviously favoured by all… but until the day we find a practical, efficient way to do this we have to make best with what we have. I completely agree with haz’s comment … At least he seem to have a grasp upon other major issues in the world

I am totally with Greenpeace on this - it seems that 90% of the people who come and post on here are not greenpeace supporters and are instead short-sighted, greedy and lazy oil addicts and pro-nuclear fanatics! (never mind the government!).

In our lifetimes we have seen a glut of oil/coal/gas fossil fuels. Just over a century ago our use of these resources was miniscule. We have pretty much used them up - and the resulting party is all we can recall ("If I hadn't seen such riches - I could live with being poor").

It's all downhill from here (apart from prices which are going up, up, up) as anyone listening to the news recently will know! The oil party is over - time to clear up.

So - nuclear. Safe, cheap & clean? No - not by any stretch of the imagination... encasing waste in glass and bribing people to accept it in their area is not a long-term solution - neither is burying itas deeply as we can. In case anyone hasn't noticed - the earth's surface is constantly shifting - the core is churning. One day some descendants of ours (if we have any at all) will have to cope not only with outrageous C02 and greenhouse gas levels due to our inability to take action, but they will also have to deal with our nuclear waste. Are we all hoping that in the future we will all be super-genii? Technology to the rescue? Send it to the moon/mars? Wake up and smell the isotopes!!

BTW - to all those who think nuclear is a convenient solution - would you rather have a nuclear reactor less than 20 miles from your house or a bunch of windmills? Would you rather cut down on your consumption or store nuclear waste in your neighbourhood?

CHP, Decentralised Power, Microgen on a domestic level, Improved domestic storage to level out peaks and troughs, Community Big Wind and Hydro, Electric/compressed air vehicles - this is the kind of future I want to see.

the fact is that we need energy and if you dont want to pay people to get oil for you to live on then maybe you should go on your computer and waste energy that we all need

Being one of these "short-sighted, greedy and lazy oil addicts and pro-nuclear fanatics" as you stated, ,whilst nuclear energy is not completely clean, it is the best option right now given our current situation.

"Are we all hoping that in the future we will all be super-genii? Technology to the rescue? Send it to the moon/mars? Wake up and smell the isotopes!!"

200 years ago, people thought that the moon,sun and planets were attached to the earth with huge crystal shards, Now, we know that we orbit the sun, due to its large gravitational pull, and that the moon orbits us. Its called progress and right now, all Greenpeace wants to do is halt that progress, if astrologers and scientists had listened to you people all those years ago, we would still be living in dirty, flea-ridden huts in the middle of the countryside. Yes, that would mean you would have nothing like what you have no toilet, no bath, no car, no computer, no TV, no radio and still think that the Earth was the centre of the universe.

Hey Pie, where do you get the idea that protecting the environment is somehow 'against progress'? To my mind true progress is about understanding and applying knowledge (I think the process is called 'learning from experience'). 150 years ago or more when we embarked on the industrial revolution we had little idea of the eventual consequences in terms of pollution and environmental damage (and we had a global population of maybe one quarter the size).

Now we have a much better idea, and the best available peer-reviewed science is warning that it is possible for us to destroy our own habitats through over farming and fishing, deforestation and burning ever increasing amounts of fossil fuels. How can it be 'against progress' to acknowledge this and try to find ways to minimise the impact?

Your position is much more 'flat-earth' than Greenpeace's. They are identifying problems which could wreck our cilvilisation if we choose to ignore them, and looking for ways to minimise them - you sound more like the captain of the Titanic - "full speed ahead and damn the consequences!"

Greenpeace is listening to the scientific consensus and trying to act on it - you and your ilk are the true Luddites.

I am a Civil Engineering student completing a Masters Degree and as part of this I have to produce a feasibility report on the use of nuclear power in the UK. I am doing this as part of a group, and some of our research so far has come up with some interesting points.

Firstly, the economic cost of wind and wave power is phenomenal (particularly of offshore wind farms), and these costs will be passed on to the consumer. Although reducing CO2 emissions does come at a price, not everyone will be able to afford the hike in energy prices.

Electricity production from wind and wave energy is much smaller and as such requires a huge number of units to compete with the output of a nuclear power plant. Coupled with the fact that many of the wind farms proposed and pushed by organisations such as Greenpeace require siting some distance from the shore, often as much as 50km. This then requires the tranmission of the produced electricity back to the shore and along the length of 50km the resistance of the cables results in substantial transmission losses, thus requiring more units to compensate.

A wind turbine can produce approximately 1MW at best, whereas a 3rd generation nuclear power plant can produce 1600MW, meaning that 1600 wind turbines would be required to replace the planned construction of a nuclear power plant. We calculate that 12 power plants are required in the UK to produce approximately 36% of the base load. This means nearly 200,000 wind turbines either around the coast of the UK or on land, close to urban centres.

Germany and Spain have many more wind turbines in use than the UK at present, as described by Greenpeace in some of their online articles, however the size of these countries mean that they can site wind farms away from urban areas in more mountainous regions and maximise the efficiency of their production. This is more difficult to do offshore or on our relatively small island.

Also associated with the production of the huge number of required turbines is the production of CO2. Steel manufacture produces a vast amount of CO2, generally more than concrete production and use. This is a massive amount to claw back throughout the relatively low 20 year life span of wind turbines compared to 60 years or more for nuclear power plants. This again results in more money being paid out for maintenance and eventual replacement. The carbon footprint of a wind farm(s) big enough to produce as much electricity as a nuclear power plant will most likely outweigh that of the nuclear power plant. Although there is no CO2 production throughout the life of a windfarm, the CO2 produced to manufacture and construct it will be huge.

Along side this, once the construction of a nuclear power plant is complete there is no further CO2 production other than the transportation of fuels (in minimal amounts), and there will be lower transmission losses, overall making nuclear a cleaner way of producing electricity.

The siting of wind farms will also cause problems, which organisations such as Greenpeace could be against. These will be environmental issues such as protected bird species and sealife that the construction and use of wind turbines could endanger. The new nuclear power plants can utilise the brown field sites of exisiting nuclear plants that are being decomissioned, and build new or maintain existing wildlife reserve areas around the plants, meaning that environmental impacts are lower.

Although there is some waste produced by the nuclear process, after a 5 year cooling down period the waste is transported elsewhere in the EU or other parts of the world for reprocessing, and after this some of it can be used again as a nuclear fuel. The safety proceedures employed in modern nuclear power plants are fantastically sophisticated and the chances of any kind of accident are so minimal that they might as well be non-existent. Nuclear power plants have moved on dramatically since the days of Chernobyl and that type of incident is impossible due to the changes in the process.

Looking at technologies such as CHP, I belive that local plants could be of some help but are not as efficient as others would lead us to believe. The small plants could not heat many houses due to the fact that they will not get very hot themselves and they still require the burning of fossil fuels. Even burning straw bales and wood pellets (as proposed in Greepeace's online article) will produce CO2, so it's not such an efficient process after all. New nuclear power plants could sell waste heat to nearby heavy and light industry, as they producing steam at 300 degrees C. However, I don't think too many people will want to live close to a nuclear plant or CHP unit, and the losses involved in heat transfer means that it cannot be transported large distances.

In additional to all of the electricity production we require, I believe that we need to conserve as much as possible and reduce our energy use and CO2 production. This can be done by using environmental methods of transport, electric car, public transport, cycling etc. By insulating homes and using double glazing we can save on heating requirements. Careful consideration of our habits and energy consumption can go a long way but we still need to produce electricity in the most sustainable manner possible.

I think that some people have overlooked some very important aspects of so called 'renewable' energies and have not looked at the overall picture in terms of carbon production from manufacture and also the efficiency with which the energy can be delivered to consumers across the UK. Overall, in terms of economic, social and environmental sustainability, I believe that nuclear is the only way that we can currently fulfill the countries energy demands.

I feel that the dangers associated with nuclear power are exaggerated when compared to other sources of energy. The deaths per GWy (Giga watt year) are much lower for nuclear power than any other source excluding hydro. Coal inparticular has a far higher death rate per GWy of energy.

We have seen with the banking crisis what happens when the downside risks are thought to be too small to worry about, the scale of the potential hazard is ignored and regulation is relaxed.

With nuclear power we have an industry where the risks are seemingly very small but the hazards remain huge. Will the lessons learnt by the Financial Services Authority be passed on to the Health & Safety Executive – the nuclear regulator? I hope so.

A massive shortfall in our energy supplies is looming and to meet the targets (to stop there being blackouts) it seems that as speed is of the essence some of the risks we face are being put to one side and are not being properly addressed.

I have recently finished "Latent Hazard" - a thought provoking and scary view of how vulnerable we might be - " we are sleepwalking on a tightrope without a safety net" – it highlights the hazards we are exposed to, and the need for some joined up thinking and a proper debate on the energy crisis lead by those without vested financial interests.

The banking crisis has triggered a reassessment of financial risks and hazards. However, the resulting economic slump and the fall in the price of fossil fuels have prompted the decision makers to shelve many of their green energy projects. Now is the very time that there should be incentives for Research and Development into energy efficiency and green energy sources in addition to the New Economics Foundation’s proposals for new funding for greening the economy.

An energy crisis on top of a very costly financial crisis would be devastating.

It seems that many of the people reading this article are with me on this one. Doing as the article suggests, and not building nuclear or any other carbon generating sort of power would put us years behind in terms of technological progress and leave us more or less at the mercy of those who don't want to cover their country with PV cells and wind turbines, both of legendary inefficiency, just to keep the lights switched on in the Greenpeace offices. Reprocessing fuel, as we already do, means we can recover >99% of the spent fuel and use it again, reducing the storage problem. The terrorist threat is very unlikely, especially if hot cycle reprocessing is used, meaning, for those who oppose nuclear and haven't reasearched their arguments properly, that the rods are reprocessed without letting the radioactivity die down; I'd like to see any terrorist nick red-hot radioactive chunks of fuel! To those who've said that we're not uranium sufficient: reprocessing can recover much of the stuff, LMFBR's can burn unenriched U-238 and France, which isn't really self sufficient, manages well enough. I say buy it from Australia, who more or less like us, and by the time that's run out, someone should have discovered fusion, and we don't have a shortage of water. To the person who said we still need fossil fuels for cars etc: What about the plug-in hybrids, or pure electric cars, that you so love? Superconductors, quite close to fruition, would enable centralised power. True, energy efficiency has a place, but that can't reduce our power requirements to the point where we can rely on low load factor renewables, at least before the 'climate apocalypse' threatened on these pages occurs. Sorry greenpeace, but you're wrong.

The 230,000,000 tons of coal required for a coal power station also contains 4 tons of Uranium; the total radioactive emissions of a Magnox are around .05 rem per year. Far lower than background. Although the well-publicised KiKK study seems to show leukaemia clusters, these could be caused either by the sub-stations, which also seem to have leukaemia clusters, and are found near all power stations, and also, if all the clusters are taken into account, the neat little pattern suddenly looks quite random.

I have been reading the comments with great interest. But what really confuses me is why nobody seems to think the aftermath is a cause for concern. Surely, with the rubble from Nuclear sites now going in to landfill sites it brings about lots more reasons why we shouldn’t rely on Nuclear power. It is buried under a metre and a half of soil in pits less than a mile from heavily populated villages. The levels emitted are claimed to be safe but how can you trust these figures. I have read that in many years down the line Drigg will be uninhabitable. There are issues of transporting it from all corners of the UK and with the lack of monitoring (as it seems to be left up to the landfill company to do that) how are we to know that they are sticking to their guidelines. Is there a risk of leakage? If the rubble is radioactive surely the soil piled on top in landfill is the same. I cant see that double sealed bags are going to prevent it escaping. I am as you can probably tell not very up on my radioactive waste knowledge but what does concern me is that we are not considering the mess we are creating for future generations.

Nuclear Power produces tons of waste. Places all over the world are shipping their waste to britain, so we can store it for them. The vast majority is put into shipping containers that are then filled with concrete. Once the pit they are storing these in gets full, they will simply cover it in soil and forget about it. This means hundeds of years from now, some one could find it, and not kowing what it was, could end up causing harm to people withit, even if it was purely accidental. Surely this is why we need to start using sustainable energy such as wind and solar, so we don't end up causing this damage.

Yes, I'm all electric here. Electric cooker, heater etc.

You need to come up with some better reasons against nuclear energy than the ones stated here.

The 'Masters degree' student 'dcoughlan' who suggests that wind energy uses to much steel etc. should I suggest change careers!

I assume the alleged student has read the appropriate research into wind farms that clearly shows that the carbon footprint of wind energy is very similar to nuclear!

The quantities of steel and concrete used results in similar carbon footprints. The poor research posted by dcoughlan is the sort of thing one would expect from an amateur anti-wind web site, not a masters degree student.

Some research for our alleged student friend to ponder:

White, Scott - Net Energy Payback and CO2 Emissions from Three Midwestern Wind Farms: An Update 2006

Barbara Batumbya Nalukowe, Jianguo Liu, Wiedmer Damien,Tomasz Lukawski - Life Cycle Assessment of a Wind Turbine 2006

Gagnon - Civilisation and energy payback 2008

Motoaki Utamura - Analytical model of carbon dioxide emission with energy payback effect 2004

Lenzen and Munksgaard,
Energy and CO2 Analysis of Wind Turbines - Review and Applications.

Uwe R. Frische - Comparison of Greenhouse-Gas Emissions and Abatement Cost of Nuclear and Alternative Energy Options from a Life-Cycle Perspective. 2006

BTW There's more where that came from.

You are fogetting that the problems of the waste are constantly being investigated, one idea is the use of a large rail gun to launch the unuseable material into the sun this if the idea works an is safe enough will be cheap enough for nuclear waste to be permantly disposed of.

Also the fact is that nuclear reactors are purely the idea of a stop gap while the research on Fussion reactors produces a working prototype that can then be put into commercial use. But this next step in the development is not expected for another 50 years

This is true that if this project would go on this will be really harmful in the next few decades. According to the recent research of Australian Medical Locums, no matter what safety measures they are taking this will be harmful.

Hi there guys,
I'd just like to tell you I live in a mansion made of Amazonian mahogany, powered by burning whale oil. It also has oil and coal burning stoves, and I cut down the surrounding wood to make a golf course.
And you know what else?
I force orangutans to dig for oil in my diamond mines.

Usual drivel from Greenpeace, this time about nuclear power. Personally, I don't want to pay the Russians billions for gas or oil, or be left at their behest. Wind and wave power is a joke in terms of efficiency and the damage the apparatus does to the environment; nuclear power is the only option, or I guess we could live in the dark. Greenpeace used to be useful organisation, now all it does is endlessly block progress. I guess that's what happens to all single issue pressure groups, eventually.

Why do the so called goverment always turn to nuclear power......they're fat and lazy and don't care about the people or the enviroment, just how much they can fill thier own pockets!!! Nuclear power is'nt progress it's an easy option for them. If people don't want to pay billions to other countries for energy resorces, cut down and do your bit to save energy, reduce emisions and find cleaner, save ways to harness energy. We're not put on this earth to drain it dry........mother earth has looked after and given to humanity for millions of years, about time we stop taking and start giving.

I'm no expert, but the above arguments seemed completely flawed to me. I accept Nuclear power can cause devastation if things go wrong and we are storing up problems for the future on where to store the toxic waste. But as far as the more pressing issue goes regarding CO2 emmission Nuclear seems to make sense to me. The article states the most CO2 emmissions are cause by the burning of Gas and Oil used by transport and that Nuclear power can only generate electricity so this doesn't help. Surely thats because lorries, vans, cars, some trains all use fuel derived from oil. So for transport it makes sense to me we should be forcing the use of electric vehicles and using renewable/nuclear power to provide the electricity to power these vehicles. Then there is the problem of air travel/Ferries which I can see at the moment would be impossible to use electricity so these will have to rely on techology to reduce CO2 emissions. As far as heating is concerned if we converted to electric heating and all our electricity came from renewable/nuclear then CO2 emmissions are reduced. Also the reality is more and more electricity will be consumed as air conditioning, more homes, more commercial properties, street lighting, electrical gadgets and hopeful electrical transportation. Wind Farms have their own problems with wild life, what to do when there is no wind and the devestation they cause the natural beauty. We don't have enough sunlight to use solar power. Also there are technical limitations on how far electricity can travel so I understand you cannot suppy London with wind farms off the north coast of Scotland. I don't have the answers but slamming down every idea just because it has a flaw will just destroy the human race. You have to deal with the issues having most impact and disposal of nuclear fuel has less of an impact than CO2 emmissions. BTW its not about saving the planet, the earth will always survive given a few million years, its life as we know thats risking extinction.

I have been a Greenpeace supporter and member for longer than I can remember. In practical terms, I cannot agree with Phoenix' views. The reality is that there is little alternative to nuclear power for the foreseeable future. All methods of power generation have their advantages and disadvantages. Returning to the Bronze Age as advocated by extremists is simply not an option. In truth, private power generating has to make a profit to invest in future technology and infrastructure. Remember that pension funds investing in companies do so that pensioners can get an income in old age. There are many other factors that make profitability important so it's not just about directors' salaries. There is no place for idealism in this debate, whether it is from Greenpeace, the Government, environmental extremists or the criminals that cuts down the forests (they are also contributing to climate change). Like I said, I have been a Greenpeace supporter for many years. Opposing nuclear power is not good. Successfully opposing nuclear generating industry could result in people having to cut down trees for fuel in winter or using expensive fossil fuels adding to climate change simply because there was not enough power to go around. Folks like phoenix, no matter how well intentioned, are taking too narrow a view. To conclude, I feel I must add some of my own credentials. I am a successful businessman in a low carbon industry. I do not own a car and travel mostly by public transport. My family vehicle is a one litre Nissan Micra. I do not fly when going on holiday. I recycle almost everything and have energy saving light bulbs and turn everything off standby when not in use. Oh, and I've turned down my home and office thermostats by one degree. Perhaps Greenpeace should be working with the UK Government on how best to implement the nuclear policy given the problems of waste disposal. Better to have influenced the outcome in that way than to have stood on the sidelines waving banners and wringing hands.

Haz, you'll still have to pay the Russians for oil and gas whether or not there's nuclear power. Nuclear power produces electricity; it doesn't contribute to our heating and transport needs. Most of the gas we use is for heating and hot water, or for industrial purposes. Virtually all oil is used for transport. In all, 86% of our oil and gas consumption is for purposes other than producing electricity. So how does nuclear electricity improve security of gas or oil supply? The real answer to oil dependence is improved vehicle efficiency, improved public transport and reducing the need to travel. For heating, we need to start using decentralised energy and CHP. Cheers, Bex gpuk

2parasoldier, we lay out our energy solution at www.greenpeace.org.uk/solution. In short, it's decentralised energy, based on efficiency, renewables and combined heat and power. It's not only an alternative to nuclear power - it's an alternative that will actually work, and will significantly reduce our emissions / ensure energy security. Nuclear won't. From our point of view, decentralised energy is the pragmatic, realistic energy solution, and the claims Labour and the nukes industry are making about nuclear are pie in the sky. New nuclear power is a doomed attempt to shore up our ailing energy system. An energy system based on large, remote power stations is grossly wasteful (two third of energy is lost before it even reaches our homes and businesses), so we're arguing for an efficient, flexible energy system based on renewables and combined heat and power. To work with the government on how best to implement nuclear would be a nonsense for us: even leaving aside the waste, cost, inefficiency and siting issues, nuclear won't stop climate change so we wouldn't support it. On working with government instead of waving banners, we've been working to influence energy policy on several levels, but not all of it's very visible. We've worked with the Conservatives, we've had countless meetings with Labour, we've worked with local authorities, we've produced reports and documentaries, we've made submissions to energy reviews and audit committees... And of yep, when it's come to the crunch, we've taken direct action. Anyway, thanks for your support :) Bex gpuk

OK, limiting the argument to CO2 emissions as we seem to agree on safety/waste. Theoretically, what you're saying makes some sense. Practically though it's impossible. On heating, you say "if we converted to electric heating and all our electricity came from renewable/nuclear then CO2 emmissions are reduced". Apart from this being an extremely inefficient way of producing heat, there are a few problems with this. One: we wouldn't be able to build enough nuclear plants, for reasons of cost, siting, waste storage, vulnerability to climate change-induced flooding etc. Even the gvt and nukes industry are only suggesting building ten plants, to replace the ailing reactors we have, which together only provide 19 per cent of our electricity. And, if our (massive) heating needs were to be met by electricity as you suggest, our electricity needs would sky-rocket. Two: nuclear and renewables may both be able to run on the grid as long as both are making relatively small overall contributions, but both can't expand beyond a certain point without there being operational conflicts. Three: experience in other countries (see Finland) shows us that nuclear sucks investment - and, more importantly, political will - away from renewables. Four: nuclear locks us into our current, inflexible centralised model which is inherently massively inefficient. So for electricity, it makes sense that we should be going full-pelt for renewables - along with CHP and efficiency. You might be interested in this study in which scientists prove that Germany can be 100% powered by renewables. For heating, it makes more sense to use combined heat and power (CHP). Heat is a by-product of electricity generation, and at the moment we just let that by-product go up in smoke, and then use a load more energy (usually gas) to generate heat separately. CHP is the most efficient way possible to burn fossil fuels, and also allows us to make the transition to cleaner fuels (eg biomass) as they become available. On transport, yep, and as well as electric vehicles powered from low carbon electricity, we need massively improved vehicle efficiency, improved public transport systems and to reduce the need to travel (especially for business). And yep, point taken on your last paragraph :) Cheers, Bex gpuk

Rampant xenophobia aside, we'll still have to be paying someone for the fuel to run nuclear power stations. And that includes Russia. The UK is not exactly what you'd call self-sufficient in the stuff. web editor gpuk

Well, what is wrong with the dark? Light a candle once in a while, instead of relying on electricity to run your life! So, then what happen to the extremley dangerous Nuclear waste? Well, we'll just dump it in the sea, like everything else, shall we? You should be a politician. Don't you want to protect this beautiful land you were born, and will die on?

Many folk don't like nuclear technology. Part of me doesn't either. However, this is not a black and white issue, good or bad. Nuclear power may have to be part of the electricity generating solution. Question: Do you see mass energy efficiency, enough to cut energy use by 20% in one year? A. No Question: Are there enough offshore wind turbines, tidal lagoons, wave machines, decentralised CHP systems going in? Well no! What I read into Greenpeace at the moment. Lots of green dodgma and retrospect potest. The nuclear debate is good as done, barring a few legal challenges. What Greenpeace should be doing is being the sales organisation for energy efficiency, microgeneration and renewables, or become an energy sector irrelevance. Question: Do you see the mass consumer market at the moment putting en masse solar panels, duble helix wind turbines on there roofs, or digging in ground heat pumps? No, not many, not just yet! Consumers wish to buy and purchase their plasma screens, trade in their CRTs but not pay the same money for a solar heat panel for the roof. Dr David King is correct to comment on Green ideologs, and highlight the need to live with and part encompass the technological. The days of rubber dingies, wetsuits and blocking sellifield waste outlets is long gone. Greenpeace needs to ditch the ideogology, and grasp the Climate Change reality so as to attract consumer action, rather than repel consumers into inaction or indifference?

Hi, I'm not totally against all of the issues greenpeace and other such pressure groups protest against. However i have to totally disagree with your thoughts about nuclear power. Nuclear power is the safest and most efficient form of renewable energy there is. In the UK, yes there is a stockpile of plutonium, but that is what reprocessing is there for to use up the stockpile and use it to create new nuclear fuel. One of the comments I have read on the website stated that sellafield is one of the most radioacvtice places in the UK if not the World. Well im sorry to say no its not. The most radioactive place in the UK is actually Cornwall. This is natural radiation from the type of rocks in the area. This means that people living in cornwall are being subjected to more radiation than anyone working or living near a nuclear site. I work on one so i should know. Also I don't know if your group will even comment on this, but a wind turbine was blown over by the wind! I mean what a joke! A wind turbine is meant to use the wind to produce electricity not to fall over becasue of it and also they can't even be used in high winds because they can break! Surely this means that they are a danger to the public if they can fall over in high winds. I'm 19 and I've been given a great opportunity to work on the most technical site in the world and also one of the most up and coming industries in the UK. I've got a great job and really enjoy it. The nuclear industry relies on groups like yourselves to put pressure on us so that we are constantly making progress on our on site safety. Keep up the good work. In Cumbria 11-12 K people work on a nuclear site and a further estimated 100 K people work indirectly with the nuclear industry in Cumbria. It would be insane not to firther developments in the UK. Maybe if people stopped complaining about nuclear power and actually got involved then they would quickly realise that it is the best industry to be involved with at this time and it would actually give you lot something to do instead of complaining about things that make this country a great one. Chris

50 percent of the uranium reserves are in canada and australia, two western stable and friendly countries we can also reused a part of the nuclear waste and the plutonium of the nuclear weapons the raw material in the total cost of nuclear electricity is 5 percent not 80 for oil and gas so nuclear is relevant to protect our energy, and it s not xenophobic to say that remenber the two oil crisis, or the russian ukrainian gas war most of the oil countries are unstable, often dictatorships venezuela, russia, turkemesitan, niegeria, saudi arabia i prefere to be dependent on australia and canada

What the hell phoenix ? “Fill their pockets”, “fat”, “lazy”. are these meant to be serious arguments? Your choosing to denounce the very government that provides you with the lifestyle that you and millions others have grown accustomed to. Yes nuclear power is not a perfectly environmentally friendly answer, but it’s a feasible, well understood technology that provides a practical solution to the real big problem… climate change. We don’t have time for to experiment with visionary power sources. A complete renewable approach to energy is obviously favoured by all… but until the day we find a practical, efficient way to do this we have to make best with what we have. I completely agree with haz’s comment … At least he seem to have a grasp upon other major issues in the world

I am totally with Greenpeace on this - it seems that 90% of the people who come and post on here are not greenpeace supporters and are instead short-sighted, greedy and lazy oil addicts and pro-nuclear fanatics! (never mind the government!). In our lifetimes we have seen a glut of oil/coal/gas fossil fuels. Just over a century ago our use of these resources was miniscule. We have pretty much used them up - and the resulting party is all we can recall ("If I hadn't seen such riches - I could live with being poor"). It's all downhill from here (apart from prices which are going up, up, up) as anyone listening to the news recently will know! The oil party is over - time to clear up. So - nuclear. Safe, cheap & clean? No - not by any stretch of the imagination... encasing waste in glass and bribing people to accept it in their area is not a long-term solution - neither is burying itas deeply as we can. In case anyone hasn't noticed - the earth's surface is constantly shifting - the core is churning. One day some descendants of ours (if we have any at all) will have to cope not only with outrageous C02 and greenhouse gas levels due to our inability to take action, but they will also have to deal with our nuclear waste. Are we all hoping that in the future we will all be super-genii? Technology to the rescue? Send it to the moon/mars? Wake up and smell the isotopes!! BTW - to all those who think nuclear is a convenient solution - would you rather have a nuclear reactor less than 20 miles from your house or a bunch of windmills? Would you rather cut down on your consumption or store nuclear waste in your neighbourhood? CHP, Decentralised Power, Microgen on a domestic level, Improved domestic storage to level out peaks and troughs, Community Big Wind and Hydro, Electric/compressed air vehicles - this is the kind of future I want to see.

the fact is that we need energy and if you dont want to pay people to get oil for you to live on then maybe you should go on your computer and waste energy that we all need

Being one of these "short-sighted, greedy and lazy oil addicts and pro-nuclear fanatics" as you stated, ,whilst nuclear energy is not completely clean, it is the best option right now given our current situation. "Are we all hoping that in the future we will all be super-genii? Technology to the rescue? Send it to the moon/mars? Wake up and smell the isotopes!!" 200 years ago, people thought that the moon,sun and planets were attached to the earth with huge crystal shards, Now, we know that we orbit the sun, due to its large gravitational pull, and that the moon orbits us. Its called progress and right now, all Greenpeace wants to do is halt that progress, if astrologers and scientists had listened to you people all those years ago, we would still be living in dirty, flea-ridden huts in the middle of the countryside. Yes, that would mean you would have nothing like what you have no toilet, no bath, no car, no computer, no TV, no radio and still think that the Earth was the centre of the universe.

I am a Civil Engineering student completing a Masters Degree and as part of this I have to produce a feasibility report on the use of nuclear power in the UK. I am doing this as part of a group, and some of our research so far has come up with some interesting points. Firstly, the economic cost of wind and wave power is phenomenal (particularly of offshore wind farms), and these costs will be passed on to the consumer. Although reducing CO2 emissions does come at a price, not everyone will be able to afford the hike in energy prices. Electricity production from wind and wave energy is much smaller and as such requires a huge number of units to compete with the output of a nuclear power plant. Coupled with the fact that many of the wind farms proposed and pushed by organisations such as Greenpeace require siting some distance from the shore, often as much as 50km. This then requires the tranmission of the produced electricity back to the shore and along the length of 50km the resistance of the cables results in substantial transmission losses, thus requiring more units to compensate. A wind turbine can produce approximately 1MW at best, whereas a 3rd generation nuclear power plant can produce 1600MW, meaning that 1600 wind turbines would be required to replace the planned construction of a nuclear power plant. We calculate that 12 power plants are required in the UK to produce approximately 36% of the base load. This means nearly 200,000 wind turbines either around the coast of the UK or on land, close to urban centres. Germany and Spain have many more wind turbines in use than the UK at present, as described by Greenpeace in some of their online articles, however the size of these countries mean that they can site wind farms away from urban areas in more mountainous regions and maximise the efficiency of their production. This is more difficult to do offshore or on our relatively small island. Also associated with the production of the huge number of required turbines is the production of CO2. Steel manufacture produces a vast amount of CO2, generally more than concrete production and use. This is a massive amount to claw back throughout the relatively low 20 year life span of wind turbines compared to 60 years or more for nuclear power plants. This again results in more money being paid out for maintenance and eventual replacement. The carbon footprint of a wind farm(s) big enough to produce as much electricity as a nuclear power plant will most likely outweigh that of the nuclear power plant. Although there is no CO2 production throughout the life of a windfarm, the CO2 produced to manufacture and construct it will be huge. Along side this, once the construction of a nuclear power plant is complete there is no further CO2 production other than the transportation of fuels (in minimal amounts), and there will be lower transmission losses, overall making nuclear a cleaner way of producing electricity. The siting of wind farms will also cause problems, which organisations such as Greenpeace could be against. These will be environmental issues such as protected bird species and sealife that the construction and use of wind turbines could endanger. The new nuclear power plants can utilise the brown field sites of exisiting nuclear plants that are being decomissioned, and build new or maintain existing wildlife reserve areas around the plants, meaning that environmental impacts are lower. Although there is some waste produced by the nuclear process, after a 5 year cooling down period the waste is transported elsewhere in the EU or other parts of the world for reprocessing, and after this some of it can be used again as a nuclear fuel. The safety proceedures employed in modern nuclear power plants are fantastically sophisticated and the chances of any kind of accident are so minimal that they might as well be non-existent. Nuclear power plants have moved on dramatically since the days of Chernobyl and that type of incident is impossible due to the changes in the process. Looking at technologies such as CHP, I belive that local plants could be of some help but are not as efficient as others would lead us to believe. The small plants could not heat many houses due to the fact that they will not get very hot themselves and they still require the burning of fossil fuels. Even burning straw bales and wood pellets (as proposed in Greepeace's online article) will produce CO2, so it's not such an efficient process after all. New nuclear power plants could sell waste heat to nearby heavy and light industry, as they producing steam at 300 degrees C. However, I don't think too many people will want to live close to a nuclear plant or CHP unit, and the losses involved in heat transfer means that it cannot be transported large distances. In additional to all of the electricity production we require, I believe that we need to conserve as much as possible and reduce our energy use and CO2 production. This can be done by using environmental methods of transport, electric car, public transport, cycling etc. By insulating homes and using double glazing we can save on heating requirements. Careful consideration of our habits and energy consumption can go a long way but we still need to produce electricity in the most sustainable manner possible. I think that some people have overlooked some very important aspects of so called 'renewable' energies and have not looked at the overall picture in terms of carbon production from manufacture and also the efficiency with which the energy can be delivered to consumers across the UK. Overall, in terms of economic, social and environmental sustainability, I believe that nuclear is the only way that we can currently fulfill the countries energy demands.

I feel that the dangers associated with nuclear power are exaggerated when compared to other sources of energy. The deaths per GWy (Giga watt year) are much lower for nuclear power than any other source excluding hydro. Coal inparticular has a far higher death rate per GWy of energy.

We have seen with the banking crisis what happens when the downside risks are thought to be too small to worry about, the scale of the potential hazard is ignored and regulation is relaxed. With nuclear power we have an industry where the risks are seemingly very small but the hazards remain huge. Will the lessons learnt by the Financial Services Authority be passed on to the Health & Safety Executive – the nuclear regulator? I hope so. A massive shortfall in our energy supplies is looming and to meet the targets (to stop there being blackouts) it seems that as speed is of the essence some of the risks we face are being put to one side and are not being properly addressed. I have recently finished "Latent Hazard" - a thought provoking and scary view of how vulnerable we might be - " we are sleepwalking on a tightrope without a safety net" – it highlights the hazards we are exposed to, and the need for some joined up thinking and a proper debate on the energy crisis lead by those without vested financial interests. The banking crisis has triggered a reassessment of financial risks and hazards. However, the resulting economic slump and the fall in the price of fossil fuels have prompted the decision makers to shelve many of their green energy projects. Now is the very time that there should be incentives for Research and Development into energy efficiency and green energy sources in addition to the New Economics Foundation’s proposals for new funding for greening the economy. An energy crisis on top of a very costly financial crisis would be devastating.

It seems that many of the people reading this article are with me on this one. Doing as the article suggests, and not building nuclear or any other carbon generating sort of power would put us years behind in terms of technological progress and leave us more or less at the mercy of those who don't want to cover their country with PV cells and wind turbines, both of legendary inefficiency, just to keep the lights switched on in the Greenpeace offices. Reprocessing fuel, as we already do, means we can recover >99% of the spent fuel and use it again, reducing the storage problem. The terrorist threat is very unlikely, especially if hot cycle reprocessing is used, meaning, for those who oppose nuclear and haven't reasearched their arguments properly, that the rods are reprocessed without letting the radioactivity die down; I'd like to see any terrorist nick red-hot radioactive chunks of fuel! To those who've said that we're not uranium sufficient: reprocessing can recover much of the stuff, LMFBR's can burn unenriched U-238 and France, which isn't really self sufficient, manages well enough. I say buy it from Australia, who more or less like us, and by the time that's run out, someone should have discovered fusion, and we don't have a shortage of water. To the person who said we still need fossil fuels for cars etc: What about the plug-in hybrids, or pure electric cars, that you so love? Superconductors, quite close to fruition, would enable centralised power. True, energy efficiency has a place, but that can't reduce our power requirements to the point where we can rely on low load factor renewables, at least before the 'climate apocalypse' threatened on these pages occurs. Sorry greenpeace, but you're wrong.

The 230,000,000 tons of coal required for a coal power station also contains 4 tons of Uranium; the total radioactive emissions of a Magnox are around .05 rem per year. Far lower than background. Although the well-publicised KiKK study seems to show leukaemia clusters, these could be caused either by the sub-stations, which also seem to have leukaemia clusters, and are found near all power stations, and also, if all the clusters are taken into account, the neat little pattern suddenly looks quite random.

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