You are hereCan Nuclear Power Be Part of the Solution? (Solutions)
Can Nuclear Power Be Part of the Solution? (Solutions)
by Robert Costanza, Cutler Cleveland, Bruce Cooperstein, Ida Kubiszewski
A satellite image of the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant in Japan taken before March 11, 2011.
As the unfolding nuclear disaster in Japan has shown, the costs of cleanup after a nuclear meltdown are borne in large part by national governments and taxpayers rather than the industry. Paying for cleanup is just one of many hidden costs of nuclear energy that make judging the value of nuclear power difficult. Many countries, including the United States, are rushing to build a new generation of nuclear power plants to reduce carbon emissions. However, the disaster in Japan should force us to take into account the full costs of nuclear power (and other energy sources). Here we propose that all forms of energy incorporate their full costs (including climate impacts, the risk of accidents, and the safe disposal of waste) so that their true value to society can be revealed and better decisions made.
Taken as a whole, the safety record of nuclear energy has been relatively good.1 In addition, new plant designs, so-called generation III reactors, have enhanced safety features compared to the 1970s-era generation II designs like those at the Fukushima Daiichi facility in Japan. And even the Fukushima reactors did not completely melt down after a magnitude 9.0 earthquake and a relatively direct hit from a massive tsunami. The number of people killed or injured globally from the nuclear energy system is far smaller than the number killed or injured, for example, producing energy from coal or even hydropower. France generates about 75 percent of its electricity from nuclear power and has been running nuclear power plants for decades with no major incidents.2
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