15 October 2009

Nuclear and Global Climate Change

Today is Blog Action Day -- and the focus is on Climate Change. This is a topic that Heart of America NW, while concerned, do not generally blog about because it is not directly related to the clean-up issues at the Hanford Nuclear Reservation. However, climate change and nuclear issues are intertwined, especially with all of the buzz about the Climate Bill in the Senate.

Many people think that nuclear power is a great "alternative" energy source because it does not produce greenhouse gases, and thus is labeled "clean." Heart of America NW reminds the public that the multi-year process of mining uranium, building the plant, transporting materials and wastes produces enormous amounts of greenhouse gases. Neither is nuclear "clean" because the United States still does not have an adequate solution for the highly radioactive and toxic wastes inherently produced in the process of generating nuclear power. Our landscape cannot afford another Hanford -- the most contaminated site in the Western Hemisphere.

Clean Water Action points to other hidden environmental costs of nuclear: "Nuclear power plants, depending on their size, must withdraw a billion or more gallons of water from an ecosystem every day. That water is superheated, carries a risk of exposure to radioactive material, and is then dumped back into the watershed. Not only does this badly distort the natural systems, it draws water away from drinking water and agricultural supplies. After the nuclear fuel is spent, it is remains a substantial threat to water. Technology for storing radioactive waste is not sufficiently developed to ensure that water sources will be safe from radioactive leakage for even a relatively short amount of time relative to the half life of the materials used."

So, today, as bloggers worldwide are considering the causes, ramifications and solutions to global climate change, let's remember that nuclear is not the climate change panacea. 


  1. This is also exciting paired with Obama's Nobel Peace Prize that ideas of climate change and nuclear reduction are pertinent and intertwined things on this day.

    I hope nuclear and it's problems of a legacy of waste won't permeate into the climate change solutions; it shouldn't be in the mix. There are just so many environmental costs from water, to air, to our food(I couldn't agree more with the Clean Water Action statement in the post) - let's protect what we've still got and keep cleaning up the rest.

  2. The Cure for Climate Change

    This guy has the answer? In this article published in McClatchy Newspapers almost a year ago, Ron Ace told the world how to fix global warming. He even had a model which supported his theory that was run by a leading environmental scientist at the Carnegie Institute's Department of Global Ecology at Stanford University.

    Nothing has come of it; are the governments asleep? Can’t they review/model his theory and either determine it's not the answer or if it is, let's get on it?!

  3. Eveinthesky, what was Ron Ace's proposed model? Did it involve nuclear?

  4. Although an alternative fuel source is desperately needed, nuclear energy is just not it. The issue of storing future radioactive byproduct makes an investment in nuclear power a risky venture.

  5. I don't think that there is a full understanding of the true nature of nuclear waste, it is simply not mainstream. The key to this problem is in educating the public, and more than that, just getting the issues out in the open. From first glance nuclear power makes a lot of sense, and compared to other options, like coal for example, its perfect. If we want to move away from this alternative, we have to make all of the cons show up alongside of the pros.

  6. In addition to high capital costs which are just not feasible given the current economic climate, as well as the high costs associated with potential radioactive releases, nuclear power has certain reliability issues. For instance, nuclear plants often operate at a reduced level during very hot weather. We need an alternative energy source that we can depend on all year around.

  7. It surprises me that nuclear energy would even be a proposed solution for an alternative fuel source. Like Anisa said, the risks are far too overwhelming and expensive than other methods that could be used for energy. Many components about nuclear energy are artificial, defeating the purpose of having an efficient renewable energy source that can decrease the amount of pollution to our environment.