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IS NUCLEAR ENERGY TRULY ZERO CARBON ?

As a result of the current discussion how further global warming could be prevented or at least mitigated, the revival of nuclear power seems to be in many politicians’ minds. It is interesting to see that in many suggestions to mitigate global warming, the focus is put on the advantages of nuclear power generation; with its disadvantages rarely mentioned.

As for being too cheap to meter, there is no way of separating the electricity from nuclear from that of any other source feeding the national grid, so it is just rhetorical.

There are however considerable concerns about the risks of radioactive contamination from the fuel and spent fuel, which make strict regulation and control very important.

The recent nuclear catastrophes, at Chernobyl in the Ukraine and Fukushima in Japan are spreading long lasting radioactivity into the atmosphere, affecting countries, land, animals and people over vast distances.

The other nuclear option - nuclear fusion – smashing atoms together rather than apart – though feasible has still not been made commercially available, and recent projections on fusion power production say it seems unlikely before 2050.

This timescale is far too long for the reduction in emissions in time to avoid global warming catastrophes, so only if nuclear fission can be made safe and radioactive material guaranteed to be contained safely for ever, can nuclear power be considered a viable option for sustainable development.


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