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A leading environmentalist changes his mind (on nuclear energy) April 25, 2006

Posted by Hans De Keulenaer in nuclear.

“Nuclear energy is the only non-greenhouse gas-emitting power source that can effectively replace fossil fuels and satisfy global demand.”

Patrick Moore, who was one of the co-founders of GreenPeace in the 1970s, helps making a case for going nuclear in the Washington Post of April 16, offering a view on the most important issues surrounding the civilian use of nuclear technology:

  • economics: nuclear energy is, in fact, one of the least expensive enrgy sources, at 2 cents per kWh
  • reactor safety: in fact, Three Mile Island was a success story in preventing any radiation from escaping into the environment. As for Chernobyl, it was an accident waiting to happen. Its 56 direct casualties, should be seen in comparison to over 5,000 coal-mining deaths that occur worldwide every year
  • waste: within 40 years, fuel has less than a thousandth of the radioactivity it had when removed from the reactor. Reprocessing greatly reduces the amount of waste
  • vulnerability to terrorist attack: a containment vessel protects the reactor from outside as well as inside
  • proliferation: probably the major issue for nuclear energy today, one that can and needs to be managed

The conclusions are very similar to our own briefing paper on nuclear technology, based on literature research and expert interviews (see Can Nuclear Power Deliver?).

A change of heart can also occur in the other direction – see Mal de Terre (Hubert Reeves – in French) for a nuclear scientist disenchanted by nuclear technology.



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