Last week, The Times published an Associated Press article that said the following: “Nuclear power is cleaner than generating electricity with coal or natural gas.”
This is open to question. It depends on what you count and how you count it.
Coal is very dirty. It puts around twice as much CO2 into the atmosphere as natural gas. Natural gas and nuclear emit about the same amount. Only renewables are significantly cleaner.
The nuclear industry touts nuclear power generation as carbon free, and this is where it deliberately misleads an uninformed public. Nuclear reactors do not emit CO2, but every other step in the fuel cycle produces massive amounts of this greenhouse gas will as other dangerous contaminants.
It begins when uranium or is dug out of the ground and continues during refinement, fuel manufacture and delivery. The spent fuel rods contain plutonium, which is deadly for 24 thousand years. Only by overlooking these facts can the industry claim it is a clean solution to global warming.
Fortunately alternative fuels are coming on the market at an every increasing rate. Not fast enough says nuclear, but this is an industry that takes many years and billions of dollars before a new plant produces a single kilowatt of power. Alternatives have completely overtaken nuclear in time, cost and flexibility. They are the wave of the future, and they are here now.
The nuclear industry is misleading the public in much the same way the tobacco industry mislead the public about the health effects of smoking and the oil companies mislead us about danger of man-made CO2 in the atmosphere.
Joan O. King