Friday, 21 February 2014

Chancellor is green in knowledge of nuclear power‏

Chancellor George Osborne, en route to a G20 finance ministers' meeting in Australia, was outside his 'knowledge comfort zone' in advocating atomic energy as green, as he did in a speech in Hong Kong on 20 February.
Indeed he is scientifically illiterate in suggesting nuclear can “generate energy, ”as he asserted: energy cannot be generated, only converted from one source to another. Electricity (and radioactive waste) is generated from nuclear power plants.
Nuclear energy is not green under any measure. To make its fuel, uranium - which does not exist in economically recoverable reserves in the UK - has to be mined, milled and enriched abroad, which is a highly energy-intensive  industrial process, involving significant carbon emissions. (see: “Valuing the greenhouse gas emissions from nuclear power: A critical survey,” Energy Policy, 36, 2008, by Professor Benjamin K. Sovacool, now Director of the Danish Centre for Energy Technology at Aarhus University, and Visiting Associate Professor at Vermont Law School, USA)
Once the fuel has been irradiated in a reactor, it will have to be cooled, treated, conditioned, packaged and either long-term stored, or possibly emplaced in a deep repository. Each of these processes will involve not insignificant greenhouse gas emissions, not least the construction of giant underground vaults for any repository
You cannot simply look at the generation process for power generation; you have to look at the full  environmental footprint and lifecycle.
Were the first new UK reactor to go ahead it would be at the Hinkley Point coastal site, next to the Somerset levels. This site is now virtually surrounded by water on all sides. It is also very close to where an earthquake was reported in the Bristol Channel on 20 February; and at a location which was inundated by the biggest tsunami to hit the UK, in 1607.
Mr Cameron said earlier in the week he would be visiting each of the areas hit by flooding to assess the lessons forth future.
One clear lesson is Hinkley Point is a totally unsuitable site for a new reactor. How would people be evacuated were a serious accident involving radiation release, were it to coincide with a future flood?
Mr Cameron could start with trying to answer that.

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