Letter sent to The Guardian:
It is both astonishing and disturbing that the former head of the House of Commons energy and climate change committee and three professors could collectively write such an inaccurate and highly misleading letter (“Nuclear fears from 30 years on from Chernobyl,” 27 April
It is especially worrying as two are professors of nuclear engineering and one of nuclear decommissioning, and are educators of our future generations of nuclear expertise.
Let me address just three of ten important errors they make in their short letter.
The UK does not have a clear programme to deal with our nuclear waste; actually, it has the opposite The energy department is currently consulting on how to move forward having ditched the latest ( of several earlier ones) plan as politically unworkable and Radioactive Waste Management Ltd, the executive body charged with planning the technical development of nuclear waste management still has around 1000 unresolved scientific and technological safety matter listed on its open-access web site (https://rwm.nda.gov.uk/issues/what-are-issues/).
While the new reactor designs may produce smaller volumes of radioactive waste, the complexity (radioactivity and heat generation) of the waste makes it much more difficult to manage. The professors surely know this.
Comparing deaths from coal-fired generation and nuclear generation needs to compare full fuel cycles. Thus deaths in coal mines should be compared with grossly under-reported deaths in uranium mines. It isn’t because the uranium mines are mostly on indigenous peoples’ land, and they usually are dark skinned. It is extreme environmental racism.
See my paper on uranium ethics presented at the International Conference on the Humanitarian Impact of Nuclear Weapons hosted by the Austrian foreign ministry in Vienna in December 2014. (https://www.bmeia.gv.at/fileadmin/user_upload/Zentrale/Aussenpolitik/Abruestung/HINW14/Statements/HINW14_Statement_David_Lowry.pdf)