How can nuclear power be seen as 'clean' energy?

by Michael Smith (Veshengro)

How can nuclear energy ever be seen as 'clean' energy, even remotely, when we have no way of dealing with the spent fuel other than store it up for some future generation to worry about? And in addition to that problem there are the inherent dangers because, as we know, accidents DO happen!

At the same time while the renewable energy industry is being told that it has to stand on its own two feet – leading to substantial cuts in government funding – when the nuclear industry has been subsidized for the past fifty years, and is still being subsidized. Or is anyone trying to tell me that the French and Chinese, who are going to be building that controversial power station at Hinkley Point, are not getting incentive payments from the British government. Calling the Hinkley station controversial is not to say that not all nuclear power stations are controversial, they are.

Aside from the very issue of Hinkley Point in the UK nuclear power, in general, is a polluting energy source and while there may be no CO2 emissions during the running of such a station, no one seems to calculate those in the building, and even worse, no one is considering the spent fuel issue the storage of which is a problem, especially in the long run. I am not even wanting to talk about any possible accident and discharge of radioactive substances.

Successive UK governments have refused to entertain state ownership of our utilities and services - yet EDF is 80% state owned (French) and the companies building he new nuclear power station at Hinkley Point are 100% state owned (Chinese). It is being estimated that even if the project is four years late and 25% over budget, but will still make a profit. How is that even remotely possible? Only through large subsidies by government which, in turn, will mean that our energy bills will, no doubt, go up to cover the extortionate cost, with all profits going overseas.

If problems occur, and when, are the Chinese (and I believe that there are already major concerns over the technology being used) going to put our interests ahead of their own state interests? Why are we even considering this when there are far cleaner, safer and cheaper renewable alternatives available? Have they completely lost the plot?

When I have asked many times how nuclear power can be seen as 'clean' energy, I have always told that spent fuel disposal will doubtless be sorted out by the time it is needed. And pigs will fly on their own as well by that time, I am sure.

In 2016 there have also been two books of which I am aware that made the point – for lack of a better word – that we need nuclear power as it is a 'clean' source of energy and had the same answer as to the nuclear waste, namely that in the next couple of year – or thereabouts – the issue will be solved. Needless to say one of those books that I have reviewed – review of the other is to follow – was given rather short shrift, as will the other, because of this fallacy as to nuclear being a clean source of energy, and that the waste issue will be sorted in the not so distant future.

The fact is, in other words, none of them know nor care so long as there is money involved and it seems to me that the French and Chinese just can't lose, while the UK tax payer will pick up the bill!

Nuclear power is not clean energy, whatever they may try to tell us, and neither is it too cheap to meter, as they used to tell us around the 1960s. The truth of the matter is that both are and were lies. Nuclear energy is not even carbon neutral, if everything is factored in. There are other ways to keep the lights on, asides from using nuclear energy, and those ways are green and clean.

© 2016