Panelists discuss the urgency of climate change and debate nuclear energy as a viable solution in Klarman Hall on Tuesday.

Michaela Brew / Sun Senior Photographer

Panelists discuss the urgency of climate change and debate nuclear energy as a viable solution in Klarman Hall on Tuesday.

May 4, 2016

Panelists Consider Potential of Nuclear Power As Climate Change Solution

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Prof. Daniel Kammen ’84, energy resources group, University of California, Berkeley and Lauri Muranen, Executive Director of World Energy Council Finland, discussed the potential of nuclear power to address global climate change in a discussion Tuesday.

While both panelists agreed that nuclear power could be an important energy source in reducing carbon emissions, their views differed in the magnitude of its risks and how different countries could accommodate each energy source.

Heike Michelson, Director of Programming for the Mario Einaudi Center for International Studies, said that nuclear power is a complex concept and relevant to current events.

“A debate on whether or not nuclear power is an answer to climate change is particularly timely if you think of the recent climate change conference in Paris and the resulting agreement signed by 175 countries, the 30th anniversary of the Chernobyl nuclear disaster in Ukraine and the fifth anniversary of the Fukushima disaster, nuclear proliferation and terrorism,” she said.

Kammen stressed the urgency of climate change and the challenges it has created.

“I think if you look at the biggest challenges we face today, climate change absolutely has to be the top,” he said. “Even if we turned off all fossil fuels today, we are already committed to a certain amount of climate change to a significant degree.”

Muranen said that the integration of nuclear power as one of the world’s primary energy sources could significantly reduce carbon emissions globally, particularly considering its utilization in European countries.

“After looking at the evidence, it has convinced me that nuclear power is indeed essential if we want to address climate change seriously,” he said.

Considering the relatively small window of time left to address climate change, Kammen agreed that nuclear power could dramatically assist in solving this global issue.

“If nuclear could deliver everything that its strongest proponents believe that it can, technically, economically and risk-wise, there is no question that it should be part of that conversation,” he said.

Unlike Muranen, due to the risks involved in integrating nuclear power, Kammen said he is hesitant to argue that nuclear energy is the solution above other energy sources, such as geothermal and ocean energy.

“Focusing primarily on nuclear [energy], the risk of the technology, the cost of the technology, and the degree to which it can be integrated into a system that gives us a livable planet — not just one that has enough energy sources in theory — is what we need to get to,” he said. “When you look at those items together, it becomes a much harder story to be as optimistic as I would like to be.”

Kammen emphasized the need to be proactive in managing the power source.

“So far we have only been good at managing risks retroactively,” he said. “Nuclear is very unforgiving if you don’t get it right ahead of time. We could get it right but we have seen how large the risks are.”

73 thoughts on “Panelists Consider Potential of Nuclear Power As Climate Change Solution

  1. The continued use of nuclear is a huge liability ~ Too costly, too risky and it’s waste is forever!
    5/4/16 Risks on the West Coast ~ San Andreas fault ‘locked, loaded and ready to roll’ with big earthquake, expert says
    http://www.freep.com/story/news/local/michigan/2016/05/04/dte-energy-fermi-nuclear-plant/83923598/

    And on the East Coast ~ 5/3/16
    Likely cause for recent southeast US earthquakes: Underside of the North American Plate peeling off
    https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2016/05/160503130840.htm

      • https://m.facebook.com/notes/marushka-france/microbial-biota-by-alexey-yablokov/10152762007836649/?ref=m_notif&notif_t=group_comment_reply

        Please take the time to learn about the devistating effects of nuclear energy. It is not like eating bananas. You can’t just pour it down some hole. There is groundwater to consider and nuclear waste has a way of getting around fairly quickly.
        I do not know why the nuclear industry insists on miseducating people about something as important as nuke waste storage and the hazards of leaked radiation. There is nothing to be accomplished by putting our heads in the sand and pretending this is not a huge problem that nobody has figured out how to safely manage.
        Look at Hanford, WA and the nightmare Washington downwinders are in for there. They already have eight times the normal rate for encephaly, where babies are born without a brain and die. Now their double shelled tanks are leaking and the workforce had been poisoned by chemical vapors. Those tanks were supposed to be the gem of modern innovations in the nuclear sector. Not anymore.
        Then, there’s the WIPP repository in New Mexico that has cans of waste stored in underground natural salt formations. The problem is that in these caves, stalagtites and stalagmites form in the shapes of pointy weapons, which can puncture the canisters. Workers have been known to mysteriously die on duty.
        In S . Louis, they tried simply putting it underground in the regular landfill. Now there is an underground fire threatening the whole city.
        At San Onofre, in Oceanside snd Ssn Clemente, CA,there is spent fuel containing plutonium just sitting there practically on the beach in containers not even designed for MOX fuel. We don’t know much about the issues there because the utility company simply lies through their teeth and claims it’s safe, even though it will only take the dropping of one canister for s container breach and huge radiation dose(1850 msv) to sicken those within a mile of it. 1850 millisieverts, not microsieverts! That is 1850 times the so called safe annual dose! So keep telling yourself that it’s no big deal. Positive thinking won’t change the facts anymore than radiophobia causes cancer in the children of Belarus or Japan.

  2. What is it about the undisposability of nuclear waste do these beaters of dead horses not understand?

    The planet they live on is not made of concrete glass and rebar. It’s a living breathing system which responds to toxicity.

    • Here in Finland where I live we have dug a hole called Onkalo to put our waste in. Its not a technical challenge, and not even an economical one. Its safe (the absolute worst case scenario would result in similar radiation dose of eating an extra bunch of bananas each year). The rock has stayed in place for several million years, and the rock above the depository actually has more natural radiation than the actual waste will have.

      Its not rocket science. The biggest obstacle seems to be politics. Politicians and people are unable to decide what to do with the waste. When they feel ready to decide, give us a call or dig a hole by yourselves.

      I know I sound a bit blunt here. But its on purpose. Compared to a lot of other stuff humans are doing (including even renewable energy and the rare earth minerals it requires), nuclear waste is rather insignificant in its dangers.

      • https://m.facebook.com/notes/marushka-france/microbial-biota-by-alexey-yablokov/10152762007836649/?ref=m_notif&notif_t=group_comment_reply

        Please take the time to learn about the devistating effects of nuclear energy. It is not like eating bananas. You can’t just pour it down some hole. There is groundwater to consider and nuclear waste has a way of getting around fairly quickly.
        I do not know why the nuclear industry insists on miseducating people about something as important as nuke waste storage and the hazards of leaked radiation. There is nothing to be accomplished by putting our heads in the sand and pretending this is not a huge problem that nobody has figured out how to safely manage.
        Look at Hanford, WA and the nightmare Washington downwinders are in for there. They already have eight times the normal rate for encephaly, where babies are born without a brain and die. Now their double shelled tanks are leaking and the workforce had been poisoned by chemical vapors. Those tanks were supposed to be the gem of modern innovations in the nuclear sector. Not anymore.
        Then, there’s the WIPP repository in New Mexico that has cans of waste stored in underground natural salt formations. The problem is that in these caves, stalagtites and stalagmites form in the shapes of pointy weapons, which can puncture the canisters. Workers have been known to mysteriously die on duty.
        In S . Louis, they tried simply putting it underground in the regular landfill. Now there is an underground fire threatening the whole city.
        At San Onofre, in Oceanside snd Ssn Clemente, CA,there is spent fuel containing plutonium just sitting there practically on the beach in containers not even designed for MOX fuel. We don’t know much about the issues there because the utility company simply lies through their teeth and claims it’s safe, even though it will only take the dropping of one canister for s container breach and huge radiation dose(1850 msv) to sicken those within a mile of it. 1850 millisieverts, not microsieverts! That is 1850 times the so called safe annual dose! So keep telling yourself that it’s no big deal. Positive thinking won’t change the facts anymore than radiophobia causes cancer in the children of Belarus or Japan.

        • I cannot even begin to tell you how many things are wrong with your comment. I suggest YOU learn how radiation works and perhaps a primer on geology, chemistry, physics and engineering will also help!

          • BTW, there’s no stalagmites/stalactites at WIPP. It’s a solid salt bed where access tunnels have to be cut into the salt. Oh and 1.8 Sv wouldn’t sicken anyone within a mile of it, more like within 10 feet of it- and only if you lingered there. I have to go with ill logic, you need to do some research Laurel.

  3. There are three reasons Nuclear Power should not be an option:
    1. Human Error
    2. Natural disaster
    3. The problem of waste

    These were problems back before the first plant was built. Human error occurred at Chernobyl. Natural disaster occurred at Fukushima and the problem of waste is the biggest problem of all and you still haven’t figured out a solution.

    • Waste isn’t an issue, you just haven’t learnt enough yet.
      Fast breeder reactors can produce electricity by burning “waste”.
      This has been demonstrated in numerous reactors around the world.

      The human issue isn’t an issue when new designs are passively safe. This tech has been demonstrated before too. Google IFR reactor on YouTube.

      Natural disaster. Are you aware that Fukushima daiini was even closer to the earthquake epicenter than daiichi was?
      And it survived 100% intact. Because it was built as recommended.

  4. Crazy crazy to think nuclear could be even considered !! The mining and milling, the front end of nuclear is forever contaminating the land, air and water. 2 examples would be Handsford, WA and Cotter , CO. Superfund sites that are TOXIC waste sites that have haunted America from Day One and 50,60, 70 years later still spilling toxic waste into our community’s. Then all the problems that come from a nuclear plant !!! The FACT is there is NO answer for all the TOXIC waste. it has never been safe or reliable source of energy. No one is doing their homework to even consider nuclear power !!
    Don’t buy the Nuclear LIE.

    • You’re crazy. Either that or you fall for every bogus leftist media report out there.

      Death toll from Fukushima is STILL zero.

      The tsunami killed 20,000 but the reactor killed none.

      • Actually, Fukushima may kill some people in the future (of radiation), but the amount will probably be very hard to detect by modern medical science. This is the scientific consensus right now, by UN research group report.

        Lots of people died because of hasty evacuation though. Psychological effects, including nuclear fear, have been the main health consequences of Fukushima.

  5. Pro nuclear power advocates are typically out of touch with the rapidity that Anthropogenic Climate Disruption (ACD) effects are overtaking us. They are overly optimistic about how much nuclear power can replace the varied uses of fossil fuels and all the other varied sources energy that would need to be replaced to displace fossil fuel uses, including air flight and the transport of many of the goods that form the foundation of our current economy. Many fail to measure their dreams against the failure of existing nuclear technologies to grow as was once expected.

    These dreamers fail to take into consideration the U.S. NRC’s provision that allows nuclear utilities to delay the total deconstruction of nuclear power plants for 60-years after they are shut down. It ignores the likelihood that the tax payers will have to pick up the tab because the plants man not have accumulated the required billions of dollars to finish the job.

    They assume that after the power plants shut down that the designs assume that the spent nuclear fuel will be kept cool for around 5-years due to trained nuclear workers, plentiful maintenance supplies, and a reliable source of external power. These are resources that may not be in place considering the rapidity of ACD effects.

    Failure to keep the spent fuel cooled could make the triple reactor meltdown fiasco, at the Fukushima Dai-ichi NPP complex look like chicken feed in comparison.

      • I guess there is no solution. All capitalism must go, enter socialism, we need space carrots, etc.

    • I suppose the antinukes like Ms. Betsy in this discussion mount an impressive argument against using nuclear power to help save the environment.

      But they appear to be basing their arguments on inaccurate and unreliable information, similar to that fabricated by known antinuclear misinformers like Caldicott, Green, and Gundersen.

      And concerning energy issues, they seem to be trusting the flimsy conjecture of people like Jacobson, Rifkin and Lovins, without having checked the wild claims of those renewable energy advocates.

      Naturally, these flaws undermine whatever point the antinukes have been trying to make. But I am completely confident that each of the antinukes here will ultimately be happy and confident supporters of using nuclear power, for good, because their evident intelligence is more than enough to sort out the trouble with their information sooner or later.

    • of and am on the side of more nuclear power. It simply is one of the safest, most regulated methods of production of electricity. All of the facets have been dealt with, including the disposal of nuclear waste. Shouting loudly does not work. Rhetoric is not the way to go. This planet is in danger of suffering catastrophic losses. So, let’s take power sources, for massive electricity, powering cities and industry, not off the grid living
      Wind, no good when the wind doesn’t blow, power density needs lots of space.
      Coal, and Oil, we know the problems here.
      Hydro, we are running out of sites to allow large electricity production.
      Solar, no good at night. Solar panels lack the power density to area needed. It takes a huge surface area, we don’t have that.
      Solar energy, by boiling steam, by focusing energy on a boiler. I like this but again, darkness is a problem.
      Natural gas, produces the bad gases too.
      Conservation, this works but rather quickly loses the levelling effect, then consumption ramps up again.
      Tidal, difficult to say, but may be promising down the road a long way. Maintenance is an issue.
      Battery storage, we are not there yet, not even close, for the massive amount of storage required.
      Also remember, that remote siting, requires long transmission lines, poles and ancillary equipment, plus line losses.
      So what to do?

  6. When we have totally sustainable and environmentally friendly options it is utter maddness, or a death wish, to continue with the allowance of any nuclear reactor.
    Please people, do some research and consider the health of the people, and the planet. Do NOT advocate for nuclear, at all!!

    • I have done just that – research, for years, as an independent author. Given that world still uses 85%+ fossil fuels, and their absolute amount has only grown, I think we need to use all our tools to replace them, including nuclear.

      Be aware that the actual studies made on dangers of various energy, nuclear comes out as the least dangerous, with accidents and waste all accounted for (externe-project, Lancet). The reality that people still think the absolute opposite tells more about the quality of media-coverage and the ability of risk-perception people have, than anything else.

    • I have been part of and am on the side of more nuclear power. It simply is one of the safest, most regulated methods of production of electricity. All of the facets have been dealt with, including the disposal of nuclear waste. Shouting loudly does not work. Rhetoric is not the way to go. This planet is in danger of suffering catastrophic losses. So, let’s take power sources, for massive electricity, powering cities and industry, not off the grid living
      Wind, no good when the wind doesn’t blow, power density needs lots of space.
      Coal, and Oil, we know the problems here.
      Hydro, we are running out of sites to allow large electricity production.
      Solar, no good at night. Solar panels lack the power density to area needed. It takes a huge surface area, we don’t have that.
      Solar energy, by boiling steam, by focusing energy on a boiler. I like this but again, darkness is a problem.
      Natural gas, produces the bad gases too.
      Conservation, this works but rather quickly loses the levelling effect, then consumption ramps up again.
      Tidal, difficult to say, but may be promising down the road a long way. Maintenance is an issue.
      Battery storage, we are not there yet, not even close, for the massive amount of storage required.
      Also remember, that remote siting, requires long transmission lines, poles and ancillary equipment, plus line losses.
      So what to do?

  7. This panel and others like it are exactly the ship of fools that will lead us even more quickly into further devastation due to catastrophic climate disasters on nuclear power plants from drought which affects cooling waters, to deep ice freezes as we’ve seen in the midwest which freeze the pipes which bring in the waters to cool the fuel rods, to fires which are encroaching closer and closer to nuke plants including the Hanford Nuke Dump and its 56 million gallons of waste leaking from 177 tanks, to the warming waters of our rivers used for cooling waters, not to mention high winds and then of course, human error. Remember Chernobyl! This is not a slogan; this is extremely important. Fukushima is just beginning! And this panel thinks its so smart. It’s the idiot wind Bob Dylan sings about.

    • Please Google “deaths per terawatt hour” and you’ll find out which energy source is the deadliest.

      IT AINT NUCLEAR.

      • Nuclear is, by a large margin, the safest among base load electricity generation. Hydro is maybe safer, if we exclude Banquio dam failure in China, 170 000 dead.

    • I have been part of and am on the side of more nuclear power. It simply is one of the safest, most regulated methods of production of electricity. All of the facets have been dealt with, including the disposal of nuclear waste. Shouting loudly does not work. Rhetoric is not the way to go. This planet is in danger of suffering catastrophic losses. So, let’s take power sources, for massive electricity, powering cities and industry, not off the grid living
      Wind, no good when the wind doesn’t blow, power density needs lots of space.
      Coal, and Oil, we know the problems here.
      Hydro, we are running out of sites to allow large electricity production.
      Solar, no good at night. Solar panels lack the power density to area needed. It takes a huge surface area, we don’t have that.
      Solar energy, by boiling steam, by focusing energy on a boiler. I like this but again, darkness is a problem.
      Natural gas, produces the bad gases too.
      Conservation, this works but rather quickly loses the levelling effect, then consumption ramps up again.
      Tidal, difficult to say, but may be promising down the road a long way. Maintenance is an issue.
      Battery storage, we are not there yet, not even close, for the massive amount of storage required.
      Also remember, that remote siting, requires long transmission lines, poles and ancillary equipment, plus line losses.

  8. Nuclear fission power plants radiate levels of toxic/deadly energies that are yet to be measured. Autism, early Alzheimer’s, cancers are just some of the results of nuclear fission radiation –and add to that the unbelievable damage to the environment being done by nuclear waste leaking from dumps into the rivers and aquifers. How could you possible support this ingoing disaster. Use the non nuclear sources of energy now available while EVERY nuclear power plant is shut down. TODAY! This is serious. And begin research on new dosimeters that can measure the higher and finer levels of radiation so you will know what you are dealing with. Remember ultraviolet light? Until it could be measured, no one believed it was there!

    • Seeing how: 1. there is no difference between “fission radiation” and the naturally occurring radiation that pervades everything and 2. the amount of radiation coming from nuclear power plants is lower than the naturally occurring background, I think you need to find another cause for the maladies in your post Betsy.

      Every from of radiation output from nuclear reactions is measurable and in fact is continuously monitored at power plants. Actually you get a bigger dose from coal plant exhaust- there’s Uranium and Thorium in coal , you know. That stuff goes right into the air at coal plants- along with the Mercury, Arsenic, and CO2.

      • Of course you would say that, Frank, based on the crude technology of current Geiger Counters/dosimeters. Scientific Complacency is dangerous.

        • And science ignorance is even more so. People are willing to forgo medical treatment because of their irrational radiophobia.

        • Nothing crude Betsy about detectors that can discriminate what type of nucleus a particular particle came from. There’s nothing “missing” or “unknown” about radiation. What’s installed at a power plant compared to what you may get off Amazon is like comparing an F-15 to a Model T.

          • So, Frank, you are stating publicly that all that can be known about particles and radiation has already been discovered???? Really?

      • With regards to radiation that has as its source atomic nuclei, yes. That’s well characterized. Note please that that is not the same as exotic particles that are created at large accelerators like CERN and the like. That’s an area of active research. I did nuclear structure for years- there’s lots of cool stuff there, but it all comes out as alpha, beta , gamma or neutrinos (and the occasional positron).

        • So, Frank, do you think that those “exotic particles” can be reduced to already known and named
          particles, and that they are therefore adequately “seen” and measured by current technology? Do you happen to know whether the current measuring technology in Geiger Counters/dosimeters, first created in the ’50’s, have ever been updated? I’m asking a serious question here.

          • Seriously, yes. Solid state detectors are what’s mostly used now. Gallium arsenide and Gallium nitride solid state detectors are the newest. Actually the Gieger tube was developed in the 1920’s. There’s been a lot of development since then. So Gieger counters isn’t “current” technology at all. But they still have their uses.

          • Frank said: Seriously, yes. Solid state detectors are what’s mostly used now. Gallium arsenide and Gallium nitride solid state detectors are the newest. Actually the Gieger tube was developed in the 1920’s. There’s been a lot of development since then. So Gieger counters isn’t “current” technology at all. But they still have their uses.

            So you don’t mind pinning the long term health of people on old technology, updated to solid state, but still not able to read the higher levels of radiation, the most dangerous levels, spewing from nuclear power plants.
            Out of sight, out of mind, yes?

      • Wow, you’re really determined to stick to your pre-ordained conclusions aren’t you. Where is there any mention of : “So you don’t mind pinning the long term health of people on old technology, updated to solid state, but still not able to read the higher levels of radiation, the most dangerous levels, spewing from nuclear power plants.”
        Who is using old technology? Not the power plants. What higher levels of radiation spewing from power plants? There Isn’t Any. As I said above you get more of a dose from living near a coal or even some gas plants.

        I’m sorry Betsy, but it’s pretty obvious you’re making things up and intentionally misconstruing some pretty simple statements. Maybe you should so some research in the peer reviewed literature and we can talk again.

        • I’m with Frank, Betsy.
          Don’t shout, read the literature, become educated on this and other nuclear issues.

  9. Nuclear power plants are immoral and are crimes against humanity, all living creatures and planet Earth herself. You are on the wrong side of history if you like them and advocate for them. And you will not be absolved.

    • Destroying the environment with rampant mining and land use for unreliable wind and solar power that essentially condemns billions of people to grinding poverty is immoral. Opposing clean and abundant energy like nuclear in favor of unreliable supplies that require fossil fuel backup is immoral. Choosing generation that raises the cost of electricity and places it on the back of the poor is immoral.

      I think nuclear is considerably more “moral” than fossil fuels or wind and solar. Fortunately science backs up that position.

      • Germany has voted for nuclear exit.

        The result: CO2 emissions have been the same for 6-7 years in a row.

        The take-home message is: renewables either do not work very well or they are excruciatingly slow. They need R & D. Send them back to home and let them grow a bit and call nuclear.

    • I have been part of and am on the side of more nuclear power. It simply is one of the safest, most regulated methods of production of electricity. All of the facets have been dealt with, including the disposal of nuclear waste. Shouting loudly does not work. Rhetoric is not the way to go. This planet is in danger of suffering catastrophic losses. So, let’s take power sources, for massive electricity, powering cities and industry, not off the grid living
      Wind, no good when the wind doesn’t blow, power density needs lots of space.
      Coal, and Oil, we know the problems here.
      Hydro, we are running out of sites to allow large electricity production.
      Solar, no good at night. Solar panels lack the power density to area needed. It takes a huge surface area, we don’t have that.
      Solar energy, by boiling steam, by focusing energy on a boiler. I like this but again, darkness is a problem.
      Natural gas, produces the bad gases too.
      Conservation, this works but rather quickly loses the levelling effect, then consumption ramps up again.
      Tidal, difficult to say, but may be promising down the road a long way. Maintenance is an issue.
      Battery storage, we are not there yet, not even close, for the massive amount of storage required.
      Also remember, that remote siting, requires long transmission lines, poles and ancillary equipment, plus line losses.

  10. I’m thoroughly amused by the ignorance of anti-nuclear people here. 😉

    According to IPCC climate panel, World Health Organization, IEA and UN research panel UNSCEAR nuclear power is just as safe as wind power and probably safer than solar.

    Fukushima does not rank even in top 20 among nuclear disaster so far in human casualties, although there were three reactor meltdowns.

    When it comes to climate change mitigation, nuclear is essential. Even extremely slow projects have been much faster than the fastest renewables build rates (which have fallen for many years already in, say, Europe.

    Nuclear waste is a largely political problem, not environmental. Safe permanent repositories do exist, and burning most of the waste for energy is already technically feasible.

  11. One consequence of nuclear power is the source – uranium. The US has a dismal history from past uranium mining and milling. The uranium industry has left thousands of unreclaimed mine sites across the country that continue to contaminate ground water and will only get worse as time goes on. In addition, uranium mining requires millions of gallons of water to operate. In the deserts of New Mexico where many of the mines are located, we also face severe drought conditions as a result of global climate change. We can no longer consider using our waters for extraction industries when we need it to survive. Water if life. Keep Uranium in the Ground. http://www.swuraniumimpacts.org

    • And how is this any different from other type of mining for, say, heavy metals?

      I have never got it. Why is uranium mining not subject to better methods, comparisons to similar mining procedures etc?

  12. It is true that for thousands of years, ALL kinds of mining has been done without any thought to how much the environment would be damaged.

    But that changed decades ago. There has been progress, just like in the safety of cars and planes and car seats for kids. Technology has advanced. Think microwaves, computers and cell phones. It is not static.

    With respect to uranium mining in the southwest US, the legacy is appalling. Everyone is responsible: mining companies, state and federal governments, Congress for not giving enough cleanup money, the courts, and we the people for not pushing hard enough. In my opinion, no one gets a pass. It’s just despicable.

    BUT there are plenty of mines and mills in Utah, Colorado, Arizona and New Mexico that have been cleaned up and reclaimed.

    And as I said above, the technology has progressed and what was considered ok in the past is totally unacceptable today. Mines are ventilated, dust is abated just by using water.

    These days all miners have to have enough money set aside for cleanup before they get mining permits. (In fact, all industrial construction projects have to have these sureties and bonds. Not unique to mining.)

    All mining needs a lot of water.

    All mining uses chemicals to process the ore.

    All mining has tails and waste.

    All mining is radioactive, because the earth is radioactive because uranium (and thorium) is constant throughout the earth’s crust.

    In the US, mines need permission from the EPA to put the waste deep into underground sources of water. But this water is NOT drinkable; it is already contaminated with naturally occurring elements and minerals that are toxic, like mercury and lead. Otherwise, EPA wouldn’t allow it.

    All drinking water has to be treated before it is healthy to drink (unless you have well water, which can also be treated). It contains trace amounts of uranium, because uranium is everywhere.

    If we needed the underground water that is naturally unsafe, we’d need to treat it anyway.

    Mining is mining is mining–whether it’s for iron, concrete, copper and silicon for wind generators and solar panels, or uranium for nuclear energy. Either it’s done safely or it isn’t.

    And we need to extract minerals! Everything is made from them. I am amazed that so many people don’t understand this.

    • The thing is, most mining is done in developing countries and this poses several ethical problems.

      More REs coverage means much more pressure to cheaper (often worse) mining practices, which leads to more pollution and environmental devastation.

      Nuclear uses a mere fraction of mining + other materials compared to renewables.

    • I have been part of and am on the side of more nuclear power. It simply is one of the safest, most regulated methods of production of electricity. All of the facets have been dealt with, including the disposal of nuclear waste. Shouting loudly does not work. Rhetoric is not the way to go. This planet is in danger of suffering catastrophic losses. So, let’s take power sources, for massive electricity, powering cities and industry, not off the grid living
      Wind, no good when the wind doesn’t blow, power density needs lots of space.
      Coal, and Oil, we know the problems here.
      Hydro, we are running out of sites to allow large electricity production.
      Solar, no good at night. Solar panels lack the power density to area needed. It takes a huge surface area, we don’t have that.
      Solar energy, by boiling steam, by focusing energy on a boiler. I like this but again, darkness is a problem.
      Natural gas, produces the bad gases too.
      Conservation, this works but rather quickly loses the levelling effect, then consumption ramps up again.
      Tidal, difficult to say, but may be promising down the road a long way. Maintenance is an issue.
      Battery storage, we are not there yet, not even close, for the massive amount of storage required.
      Also remember, that remote siting, requires long transmission lines, poles and ancillary equipment, plus line losses.

  13. Humans have been developing nuclear power for 70 years. The technology has evolved over the years. When one conceders the actual volume of electrical production across all generation sources like fossil fuel combustion, solar farming (such as PV,solar thermal towers, wind turbine towers) geothermal, biofuel combustion and nuclear fission reactors in the US market, well, fossil fuels are king, then comes nuclear power with 100 facilites generating a full 20% of all US electricity on a schedule, 24 hours a day, & days a week, then comes hydro power from dams that depend on rain and snow melt, then wind turbines followed by solar. Has any modern economy transitioned to significantly fossil fuel free electricity? France has at 70% nuclear fisson followed by hydro then Wind and gas burning and a bit of solar. In North America, Ontario Canada is the clean energy superstar. They power over 10 million Canadians with a variety of generation technologies. Have a look at this link. It is updated every 15 minutes and logs the last 48 hours by percentage and generation facility. Save the link, the mix changes all the time (sun up, sun down, windy day still night etc. etc.) Hey ya go: https://www.cns-snc.ca/media/ontarioelectricity/ontarioelectricity.html

    • No, Ontario is a nuclear superstar. Building nuclear in the 2000’s made it possible to stop burning coal altogether there.

  14. How large is the task to switch to clean electrical generation? How large is the task to even power the growing demand for electric cars? Energy farming via Wind and Solar will take enormous volumes of mined materials that need transport and refining. The extracted materials will then need manufacturing and transportation to final installation locations. Even more fossil fuels will be needed to facilitate construction and maintainance. It’s a huge task. To do all this without the proven benifit of clean nuclear power is hard to fathom for me. Loosing 20% by closing all nuclear power plants is like starting another 20 yards behind in a football game. Here is a link to US Energy Information Agency spreadsheet data on US electrical production By year and month for 2015. Save the link. Study the information. Review the links. One must understand the volume of the job that is ahead of us all to re-make a cleaner world for the kids and grandkids. It’s going to take decades as it is! Grab a calculator, and some graph paper and work these numbers. Generate some percentages and figure out how many of your favorite machines will be needed to re-power the US and the world. Do your homework. Then comment. https://www.eia.gov/electricity/monthly/epm_table_grapher.cfm?t=epmt_1_1

  15. Decarbonization in US is most probably impossible during this century, if nuclear is being decommissioned like Sanders wants.

  16. Nuclear power is not a clean energy source. The nuclear industry is an over-subsidized fanatical scheme with a horrible track record, and no solution for security or viable waste disposal/storage anywhere in sight. Current plants in New York, Florida and others are on media blackout as they fall apart and continue sprouting more toxic leakage.

    Fukushima is still spewing uncontrolled unprecedented toxic emission for billions of years of contamination which continually affect the US West Coast and across the Cascades and Rockies and onto our agricultural heartlands. Fukushima is the tragic sure death of the Pacific Ocean, and radiation “acceptable levels” have been officially raised by governments who censor the facts reported by responsibly alarmed NGO scientific organizations.

    Creating more and large numbers of small “efficient” nuke power plants across our land and the world is a tragically blind folly, subsidized by heavily lobbied government initiatives and military waste disposal by-product schemes. As much of the developed and third world develops nuclear and fossil-free decentralized energy plans and infrastructure – the USA is diabolically held hostage to an autocratic imperative, which is blinded bit’s own entrenched political power and greed.

    Even with the blanket censorship and pro-nuke propaganda, the nuclear energy industry, it’s sponsors and lobbyists are toxically indebted or indentured to a devil’s deal. Please support a true clean energy future for people, planet and the coming generations. Please have some integrity of courage, vision and a legacy which is on the right side of history. Thank you for any mindful attention and initiative you can give to our land and an honestly sustainable heritage for the grandchildren of all species and this gifted biosphere.

    • Ralph, most Fukushima radiation spill already stopped in 2012. New York, Florida and others are doing just fine. According to intergovernmental panel on climate change (IPCC), nuclear is as safe as wind power and safer than solar PV. These are scientific facts.

      Our biosphere may break irreparably , unless we decarbonize energy production as quickly and efficiently as possible. Nuclear must play a role in this, as there are no other means to do it quickly and reliably worldwide. Renewables can and must help, but they cannot do the heavy lifting, as case studies in Germany and Spain have conclusively proved.

  17. Please educate yourself on the realities of nuke power. dumbest damn thing ever invented to boil water. Turbines can be turned a dozen better, safer ways.
    I mean, get a grip on the ideas of 21st century.
    Do No Harm.

    • Guy, there are many ways to burn water but nuclear is the best by far. An extremely safe energy source, extremely quick to build (see France) and supremely material efficient.

    • Erica, Sweden is building the second permanent nuclear waste repository as we speak.

      Sweden has plan to get rid of the waste for good and has almost completely decarbonized it’s electricity production.

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