Top Ten Reasons to Learn to Like Nuclear Energy*

10. Upgraded and modern nuclear plants offer defence in depth safety against foreseeable accidents, overseen by stringent international conventions.

9. Both major accidents involving western-designed, robustly contained reactors have caused no deaths or serious injury. Fukushima is unlikely to appreciably raise cancer incidence. Current and proposed modern designs avoid the flaws involved in the Chernobyl disaster.

8. Even non-permanent storage of spent nuclear fuel is so far very safe. Dry casks release no radiation and proved resistant to all damage during the 2011 earthquake and tsunami.

7. Modern plants can be built as direct replacements for coal-fired capacity, and can operate for around double the lifetime if not more.

6. Uranium in a conventional reactor provides 50 000 times the energy as the equivalent mass of burned coal.

5. Spent nuclear fuel still contains up to 99% of the potential nuclear energy, available to power Fourth Generation reactors in closed fuel cycles.

4. Reactors produce numerous medical isotopes like iodine-131 and molybdenum-99, vital for diagnostic procedures and sophisticated treatment of disease.

3. Australia exports nearly 7500 tons of uranium oxide yellow cake which generates carbon-mitigating electricity in foreign reactors. The market is worth over $800 million to our economy. Without this resource, these countries could conceivably turn to expanded fossil fuel energy, increasing their carbon emissions.

2. Bill gates, Richard Branson & the Dalai Lama expect modern reactors to help alleviate poverty.

1. Lifecycle GHG emissions are very low, making nuclear just as “zero carbon” as wind energy. Levelised volumes of materials are low. LCOE (including cost of waste storage and plant decommissioning) is very competitive with renewable energy.

 


 

*As much of my previous postings demonstrate, I am familiar with all the common political, social & technical challenges and relative risks of this technology. While I have never been vehemently anti-nuclear at any time in the past, like all too many Australians I’ve felt the casual cultural aversion that is apparently part-and-parcel of being environmentally aware in this country, so I get it – I get that even the consideration of nuclear can be hard to accept. So, while this fun, positive list does not aim to include objections and points of serious contention, what it does include is verifiable and worthy of reflection from those who have not yet seen both sides as I and my fellow advocates have. I thank you for reading.

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