Nukewatch Quarterly Winter 2015-2016
Known more for its steadfast work against Big Coal and Big Oil, the Sierra Club has long been critical of nuclear power and is not hoodwinked by industry propaganda about climate-safe “clean” reactors. The Club had this to say in a recent position paper:
“Nuclear power produces less CO2 than fossil alternatives, but more [CO2] than energy efficiency and most forms of renewable energy on a life cycle basis. Nuclear power is not safe, affordable, or clean with currently available technology and practice. Mining uranium risks workers’ health and creates toxic residues. All current [reactor] designs are complex, prone to accidents and have severe security vulnerabilities. Nuclear waste transportation, storage and disposal problems remain unsolved. The industry is heavily subsidized by public subsidies, incentives and liability shielding everywhere it operates, dependencies that dramatically increased in recent federal legislation. The nuclear fuel cycle increases weapons proliferation and risk among nations and non-state entities.
“The Sierra Club will continue to oppose nuclear power unless these deficiencies are eliminated. While it is possible that a different approach to nuclear power might substantially address these issues, the likelihood is remote given the decades of research and investment already made. Clean energy resources are sufficient to address climate change and are cheaper than nuclear power. In addition, the huge investment to bring additional nuclear facilities online would siphon capital from much more cost-effective uses of financial resources, especially investments in efficiency.
“Existing nuclear plants should be frequently inspected and thoroughly monitored. They should be retired upon the expiration of their licensed operating period, and should be shut down immediately if significant safety, security or environmental threats are found. It is imperative for spent fuel from operating nuclear plants to be moved into safer temporary storage and for an effective long-term storage strategy to be developed as quickly as possible.”