Nuclear power, as it is today, is a poor substitute for fossil fuels. Not long ago, I wrote about nuclear plants and the large number of “incidents” (many of which go under the radar) that occur every year, despite upgrades, updates, technological advancements and research that’s put in nuclear energy. Researchers from the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology have come up with an unsettling discovery. Using the most complete and up-to-date list of nuclear accidents to predict the likelihood of another nuclear cataclysm, they concluded that there is a 50% chance of a Chernobyl-like event (or larger) occurring in the next 27 years, and that we have only 10 years until an event similar to Three Mile Island, also with the same probability. (The Three Mile Island Unit 2 reactor, near Middletown, Pa., partially melted down on March 28, 1979. This was the most serious commercial nuclear-plant accident in the U.S.). Then there’s the problem of nuclear waste. Just in the U.S., commercial nuclear-power plants have generated 80,000 metric tons of useless but highly dangerous and radioactive spent nuclear fuel — enough to fill a football field about 20 meters (65 feet) deep. Over the next few decades, the amount of waste will increase to 140,000 metric tons, but there is still no disposal site in the U.S. or a clear plan on how to store this highly dangerous material. While some would say that this amount of nuclear waste is nothing compared with the tons of trash polluting our seas and toxic gasses destroying our atmosphere, let’s not forget this isn’t ordinary waste. Nuclear waste will remain dangerous — deadly to humans and toxic to nature — for hundreds of thousands of years. The majority of models from the United Nation’s climate-research body calls for an increase in nuclear power. The goal here is precisely what I warned about: To reduce the carbon output while paying the high cost of producing more nuclear waste. This, they say, should be done by bringing about an additional 17 gigawatts from nuclear power plants a year. If this plan were put into action, it would effectively double the number of nuclear power plants in the world by 2040. If that happens, it will be clearer to everyone why nuclear energy — in its current shape and form — is not the tool to battle climate change.
Market Watch 15th Oct 2019 read more »