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A Response to Sen. Markey and Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez - Nuclear power has a large carbon footprint

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A Response to Sen. Markey and Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez - Nuclear power has a large carbon footprint, its waste lasts millions of years, there is no place to store it, it must be treated with great seriousness and it must be excluded from the Green New Deal. Tragically it is not.

Nuclear Power's Carbon Footprint

If you consider nuclear power zero carbon, you are looking only at the direct emissions of the plant. RadiationTruth tells us very clearly that nuclear's carbon footprint is second after fossil fuels because of, for example, extraction by mining uranium or thorium ore, from which nuclear fuel is made; milling; conversion; enrichment; nuclear power plant construction; waste storage; monitoring radioactive waste forever; damaged reactors; accidents; and clean up after accidents.

Nuclear Power's Other Footprint

Additionally RadiationTruth tells us about nuclear power's other footprint, its other risks, e.g. major disasters, think Three Mile Island, Chernobyl, Fukushima; nuclear weapons proliferation ("You can't make a modern nuclear weapon without a nuclear reactor"); the disastrous impact of uranium mining on the Navaho reservation, which is environmentally unjust. Furthermore, "transporting nuclear waste to a central repository risks contamination along highways and rail lines, by accident or terrorists."

Radioactive Waste Storage

1) There is no solution to the problem of radioctive waste storage. "The GLOBAL CRISIS OF NUCLEAR WASTE, A REPORT COMMISSIONED BY GP [GREENPEACE] FRANCE," published January, 2019, is a major, heavily researched study. Page 94, extensive information on the United States. Pages 6-15, EXECUTIVE SUMMARY. Page 14, directly below, an excerpt from the executive summary:


After 60 years (1957-2017), nuclear power reactors in the United States have generated roughly 30% of the total global inventory of spent nuclear fuel (SNF) - by far the largest. Yet at the same time, decades long efforts and billions of dollars of investment have failed to secure one geological disposal site for commercial spent fuel. The Yucca Mountain underground facility, selected on political grounds and decades in the construction was cancelled on scientific and public acceptance grounds by the Obama administration in 2010.

"- for nearly 30 years, the Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) waste-storage requirements have been contingent on the timely opening of a permanent waste repository which has allowed reactor operators to legally store spent fuel in onsite cooling ponds much longer, and at higher densities (on average four times higher), than was originally intended - approximately 70 percent of spent fuel in the U.S. remains in vulnerable cooling pools;

"- the large accumulation of spent nuclear fuel in U.S. reactor pools poses a far more potentially consequential hazard. This is because the pools are holding several irradiated cores or 3-4 times more spent nuclear fuel than the original designs intended. The pools lack defense-in-depth such as secondary containment and their own back-up power;

"- a 2008 estimate by the Department of Energy (DOE) issued a revised life-cycle cost estimate totaling US$113 billion (2016 dollars) "for the disposal of 70,000 metric tons of commercial power reactor spent fuel at the Yucca Mountain site in Nevada an amount that exceeds the current stockpile as of 2018. Under current law, spent nuclear fuel more than that amount would have to be disposed in a second disposal site;

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Sheila Parks, Ed.D., is a former college professor. She had a spiritual awakening many years ago and left her career to do peace and justice work full time. She is the founder of the grassroots group On Behalf of Planet Earth (found on FB). (more...)

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