(This series of blog posts examines the false and dangerous claims of the nuclear industry. The introduction to the series can be found here)

If nuclear power is as clean and safe as the industry and its supporters claim, why is it so dirty and dangerous?

Start with the highly dangerous waste nuclear power stations produce. Before we start producing more with a new fleet of reactors, we simply do not have the capability to store the highly dangerous nuclear waste we have produce in the last 50 years safely or for the length of time – millions of years in the case of some waste – needed until it is safe. Waste produced by the new generation of power stations is going to be even more radioactive and dangerous.

The morality of nuclear waste is also highly questionable. Our producing and storing of nuclear waste in the past and present asks a binding commitment from a group of people we cannot consult or ask permission: namely, future generations. If Neanderthal man had built nuclear reactors, we would still be guarding the waste.

The operation of nuclear power stations is also inherently highly dangerous. The local residents living close to the Triscastin power plant in France were last summer told not to swim or fish in the nearby rivers, or feed their animals and irrigate their crops with river water, after 18,000 litres of a uranium solution were leaked. The French authorities are currently conducting tests of groundwater at the country’s 58 reactors to monitor contamination.

Ask why the British nuclear industry has to employ sharpshooters to cull the seagulls that swim in the water of outdoor nuclear waste storage pools. Or why ships transporting nuclear fuel require armed guards and naval guns. Find out who Hisashi Ouchi was and how he died. The list of questions about the dangers of nuclear power is almost as long as the list of leaks and accidents.

With the Chernobyl disaster fading in some people’s memories, many now question or even deny whether such an accident could ever happen again. Yet Europe found itself within minutes of a similar disaster as recently as 2006 when safety systems failed at Sweden’s Forsmark power station. The Boiling Water Reactors at Forsmark are of a design used around the world.

It’s an irrefutable fact that renewable energy sources are incapable of creating the dangers to human health and the environment that nuclear power does – dangers that extend into the future far further than human experience or expertise has ever known. Nuclear power is neither clean nor safe and presents not just a threat to us in the present but also to the very planet and the lives of future generation.

- Part two

- Part three