The British Prime Minister gets a message from Greenpeace: no nukes.
Two Greenpeace climbers scaled the ceiling above the
speaker'spodium holding banners saying 'nuclear - wrong answer' and
thendropping down 'radioactive' confetti, preventing Blair from
speaking inthe main gallery.
The speech has been widely promoted by Blair'sspin doctors as
being a vehicle for announcing a further energy review- and for
Blair to indicate his personal support for more nuclear
powerstations being built across the UK.
Stephen Tindale Director ofGreenpeace UK said, "Today Blair is
trying to launch a new nuclear ageand we are here to stop him.
Nuclear power is not the answer to climatechange - it's costly,
dangerous and a terrorist target."
"Justthree years ago Blair conducted the biggest energy review
in 60 years -which concluded renewable energy and energy
efficiency, not nuclear, isthe way forward. Today's new review is
simply a smokescreen for pushinghis new-found enthusiasm for
nuclear power. It's like Iraq all overagain Blair makes his mind up
then tries to spin his decision to theBritish people."
"The real solution to climate change and energysecurity is a mix
of efficient, safe and clean energy technologies likewind, wave,
He concluded, "Nuclear power is simply adangerous red herring in
this debate. Even if the UK replaced all 23 ofits operating
reactors, we would only save 10 percent of our carbonemissions. In
contrast the 56 billion pounds of tax-payers money beingused to
fund the clean up of the UK's current nuclear sites could buyand
install enough wind turbines to meet 20 percent of the
Nuclear power: wrong answer to climate change
Nuclearpower has justifiably had a bad press in recent years.
It's expensiveto the point of being uneconomic without massive
government subsidies,produces dangerous radioactive wastes, and the
consequences of aserious accident or terrorist attack on a nuclear
plant could bedevastating.
The industry claims that nuclear reactors emit virtually no CO2
at the point of electricity generation.
Delvea little deeper though, and the logic of this pro-nuclear
argumentbegins to unravel. While it's true that most nuclear
reactors do notemit carbon (although some nuclear plants actually
do release CO2 gasbecause it is used for cooling), they are a small
part of a nuclearfuel chain which most certainly does. The
preparation of uranium forthe reactor involves a host of CO2
-emitting processes, including:mining and milling the ore; fuel
enrichment and fuel-rod fabrication.Then there's the construction
of the power station itself. At the otherend there's reactor
decommissioning and the treatment, storage,transport and disposal
of nuclear waste. All of this involves CO2emissions, which in some
areas - such as fuel enrichment - aresignificant.
Once this whole life-cycle is taken intoconsideration, the claim
that nuclear power is a 'carbon-free'alternative to current
fossil-fuelled power stations doesn't stand up.That's one of the
reasons that the Kyoto treaty negotiations rejectedcarbon credits
for nuclear power plants. The most recent studiesindicate that, for
the richest uranium ores, CO2 emissions across thenuclear cycle are
about 33 percent that of fossil-fuel plants. So farso good - but
the fact is that very little uranium ore is of sufficientquality to
produce such a result. Poor grades of ore have a content ofless
than 0.02 percent uranium-235 (this is the uranium isotope whichis
necessary to sustain the chain reaction in fuel in a nuclear
powerplant). As the high grade ores are used up, the industry will
becomeincreasingly dependent on lower grade ores - which will mean
using moreand more energy to 'enrich' the level of uranium-235 in
the fuel to alevel where it can be used in a reactor.
Uranium is not a renewable resource
Knownuranium reserves will last for roughly 50 years at present
consumptionrates, but the 438 plants operating world-wide produce
only 16 percentof global requirements. If the world's entire
electricity needs were tobe met by nuclear power, then reserves of
high-grade uranium ore wouldbe used up within three to four years.
Some estimates predict thatusing the remaining poorer ores in
nuclear reactors could produce moreCO2 emissions than burning
fossil fuels directly.
So as a seriouslong-term energy source, nuclear power is a
non-starter. But it haspowerful vested interests behind it which
are sucking up funding thatwould be better spent on renewable
solutions and energy conservation.As in the 1950s when the first
generation of nuclear plants wereconceived, governments seem
mesmerized by the glamour of nuclear power,and blinded to its
obvious drawbacks. Any attempt to positionmainstream nuclear
production as a solution to climate change would bea massive
miscalculation, just at the time when we need to focus allour
attention on the real solutions - energy conservation and
renewablesources like wind, tidal and solar.
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