MAC: Mines and Communities

New report damns expansion of nuclear-uranium power

Published by MAC on 2007-06-28

New report damns expansion of nuclear-uranium power

28th June 2007

On July 3rd the Oxford Research Group - a broad-based UK scientific NGO - will publish a report damning the fond illusion that increases in nuclear power generation will contribute significantly to the reduction of global greenhouse gas emissions.

The report swiftly follows several other studies (reported on this site) confirming a similar prognosis.

Crucially, the researchers conclude that, were current expansions in nuclear power to be realised this would "place great strains on supplies of uranium ore - probably leading to exploitation of poorer grades and therefore more carbon expended on extraction and refining."

Whether this is true or not, nuclear expansion will certainly increase social insecurity, and doubtless damage and despoliation, for communities living near new uranium mines.

World Cannot Afford Nuclear Climate Solution - Report

PlanetArk UK

28th June 2007

LONDON - The world must start building nuclear power plants at the unprecedented rate of four a month from now on if nuclear energy is to play a serious part in fighting global warming, a leading think-tank said on Wednesday.

Not only is this impossible for logistical reasons, but it has major implications for world security because of nuclear weapons proliferation, the Oxford Research Group said in its report "Too Hot To Handle - The future of civil nuclear power".

The report fired a series of broadsides against the growing momentum for more nuclear-generated electricity to help cut climate-warming carbon emissions from burning fossil fuels.

"A world-wide nuclear renaissance is beyond the capacity of the nuclear industry to deliver and would stretch to breaking point the capacity of the IAEA (International Atomic Energy Agency) to monitor and safeguard civil nuclear power," it said.

The report comes less than a week after the World Energy Council -- the global organisation of electricity generators -- said nuclear power had to be a significant part of the new energy mix both to beat global warming and guarantee security.

Nuclear power now provides about 16 percent of a world electricity demand that is set to at least keep pace with the growth in population -- predicted to rise by more than half to 10 billion people by 2075.

The report said that if it was to play a significant part in curbing carbon emissions, nuclear power would have to provide one-third of electricity by 2075.

That, it said, meant building four new nuclear plants a month, every month, globally for the next 70 years.

Not only had top civil nuclear power France, which gets 78 percent of its electricity from 59 nuclear reactors, never got remotely near that rate of construction, but the implications for wholesale weapons proliferation were overwhelming, it said.

"Unless it can be demonstrated with certainty that nuclear power can make a major contribution to global CO2 mitigation, nuclear power should be taken out of the mix," the report said.

Proponents say nuclear power emits little of the carbon dioxide that scientists say is the major cause of global warming, while opponents point to the lethal toxicity that lingers for thousands of years.

The report said there were 429 reactors in operation, ranging from 103 in the United States to one in Armenia, with 25 more under construction, 76 planned and 162 proposed.

It noted not only major nuclear expansion plans in boom economy China -- which is already building two coal-fired plants a week -- but nascent interest across the oil-rich Middle East and the likelihood of demand from across Africa and Asia.

Surging demand would place great strains on supplies of uranium ore -- probably leading to exploitation of poorer grades and therefore more carbon expended on extraction and refining.

This would push development of fast breeder reactors which produce more radioactive fuel than they consume, solving the fuel problem but creating a security nightmare, the report said.

The report said if the 2075 scenario came about then 4,000 tonnes of plutonium would be being processed into reactor fuel each year -- twenty times the current military stockpile.

The probabilities were large that some of this plutonium would end up in the wrong hands and be used as a "dirty" bomb even if it was not used to make a sophisticated nuclear device.

Story by Jeremy Lovell



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