NUCLEAR ENERGY: Environmentally benign? Emissions free?
The answer is, they only are talking about the time at which the energy is being produced at the Nuclear Power Plant itself. This point of view does not take into consideration the vast amounts of Carbon Dioxide (CO2) and other greenhouse gases that are produced during the complex process of the Nuclear Fuel Production Cycle.
How exactly does anyone get away with making this claim?
The facts show greenhouse gases are emitted during the production processes of making nuclear fuel.
“The high concentration uranium ores mined at present are quite limited and the CO2 emissions from nuclear power rise considerably as lower concentration ore grades need to be used,… A programme of replacement of coal-fired power stations by nuclear power stations would use up the higher grade ores within 30 years or so, after which nuclear stations would emit CO2 at the same or greater rates than coal-fired stations.” ~ “The Impact of Energy on Environment and Development”, Robert Hill, IV th Nobel Prizewinners Meeting, December 1989, p. 14
As is shown in the pie-chart, each step of the fuel production cycle has CO2 emissions. The factors that determine how much each phase releases into the atmosphere are primarily contingent on the uranium ore-grade.
The mining phase will introduce increasing amounts of CO2 as ore-grades diminish and larger amounts of materials have to be removed to obtain the same amount of uranium. As the deposits that are close to the surface are depleted it will be more difficult and labor intensive to obtain the deeper ore. ~ SEE GRAPH @ RIGHT ~
Milling will also increase its requirement for energy consumption as the ore grades diminish. Larger amounts of materials to process will not only use more resources but will also create more wastes. The increasing amounts of disposal and storage of the waste materials, along with the additional contamination problems, also raises related CO2 and greenhouse gas emissions.
Carbon-free and Nuclear-free
The overarching finding of this study is that a zero-CO2 U.S. economy can be achieved within the next thirty to fifty years without the use of nuclear power and without acquiring carbon credits from other countries. In other words, actual physical emissions of CO2 from the energy sector can be eliminated with technologies that are now available or foreseeable. This can be done at reasonable cost while creating a much more secure energy supply than at present.
Read more... www.carbonfreenuclearfree.org/
"At every stage of the mining, milling and enrichment process, significant quantities of fossil fuel-generated greenhouse gases are poured into the atmosphere. The idea that the nuclear fuel cycle “creates no greenhouse gas emissions” is a deliberately and dangerously misleading myth." read more... www.nukefreefuture.com/educate/weapons.htm
Perpetuating this myth in 2007, Dennis Spurgeon, Assistant Secretary for Nuclear Energy, put out a power point presentation saying: Nuclear power is the only proven base load producer of electricity that does not emit greenhouse gases. Nuclear power is necessary to meet our needs for carbon free dependable and economic electric power. The U.S. Department of Energy's Office of Nuclear Energy
Nuclear Energy: Investing in Our Energy Security, by Dennis R. Spurgeon, February 5, 2007
The 2006 Office of Nuclear Energy's budget proposal has the following language:
“…nuclear energy to fulfill its promise as a safe, advanced, inexpensive and environmentally benign approach to providing reliable energy to all of the world’s people.”
"...economical, carbon-free nuclear energy..." Read more... Office of Nuclear Energy 2006 Budget
This is the industries argument that government officials have believed and now use as their own. The charts on this page are a demonstration of the Greenhouse gasses emitted by the front end phases of nuclear fuel production.
The only question that remains is: Will government officials continue to repeat the industries' argument after the people have shown them the truth?
Transition to Renewable, phase out nuclear
It is technically and economically feasible to transform the U.S. energy sector from an overwhelming dependence on fossil fuels (85 percent) into one that uses renewable energy only. This paper provides details about that conclusion, for the most part about the electricity sector, but also to some extent about other parts of the energy sector. It is largely based on a much more detailed examination of the issue in my book, Carbon-Free and Nuclear-Free: A Road-map for U.S. Energy Policy. This transition to a renewable energy system includes a phase out existing nuclear plants, which constitute about eight percent of primary energy consumption (about 20 percent of the electricity sector).3 It also briefly takes up the question of whether new nuclear power plants can address the needs of CO2 emissions reductions in the United States. Read more... userfiles/file//Renewable_electric_system-Makhijani2009.pdf
13. MYTH: Nuclear energy is the optimal low-carbon energy solution.
Sen. Lamar Alexander (R-TN) has said the United States must “build 100 new nuclear power plants during the next 20 years ... [they produce] more than 70 percent of our pollution-free, carbon-free electricity.”
The California Public Utility Commission found that a new nuclear power plant was more expensive than every other power option except a coal plant with carbon capture and storage. The latest cost estimate for a 1,600 gigawatt nuclear plant is up to $8 billion. Construction of 100 plants could cost at least $800 billion. This same investment would buy four times more wind power capacity.
New nuclear plants would also require copious amounts water—more than any other electricity source. Doubling the fleet of reactors would significantly add to the 57,000 tons of high-level nuclear waste that lacks permanent storage. Nuclear power would not increase energy independence since we import 90 percent of our uranium, while having only 6 percent of the world supply.