G8 Leaders Should Reject Dangerous and Costly Expansion of Nuclear Power and Reprocessing
Statement of Michele Boyd, Legislative Director of Public Citizen’s Energy Program
When the world’s major industrialized nations meet at the G8 Summit in St. Petersburg, Russia, global energy security will be high on their agenda. In their attempts to address growing energy demand and the urgent problem of global climate change, some G8 nations will encourage an expansion of nuclear power and reprocessing of spent nuclear fuel. But this is a dangerous and expensive approach that jeopardizes global energy security.
Nuclear energy is not a timely or cost-effective way to reduce our carbon emissions to address global climate change. Nuclear reactors are extremely expensive and take many years to build. They require massive government subsidies that will monopolize funding that instead should be used to develop strategically diverse energy solutions, such as efficiency measures and renewable sources that would quickly reduce carbon emissions.
And after more than 60 years of nuclear experience, no nation has developed a viable, permanent solution for nuclear waste. The Bush administration is eager to push its proposed Global Nuclear Energy Partnership at the summit, a dangerous and costly plan to reprocess this waste. Experience shows that reprocessing cannot solve the nuclear waste problem – in fact, it creates more of it. Reprocessing, the dirtiest part of the fuel cycle, has resulted in the most radioactively contaminated places on the planet. Vital water resources around the world continue to be threatened by reprocessing waste. Reprocessing would also create a global security crisis by separating plutonium and making it more vulnerable to theft and nuclear weapons proliferation.
Nuclear power will threaten – not enhance – the world’s energy security. Radioactive releases from accidents or attack would have a devastating effect on enormous numbers of people and environmental resources. More reactors will only increase these safety and security threats.
We cannot afford to repeat the mistakes of the past. Renewable energy technologies – such as wind, solar, advanced hydropower, and geothermal energy – can meet world electricity demands in the coming decades and enhance global energy security. G8 member nations must reject nuclear power and instead focus on vigorously funding energy efficiency and clean, renewable energy sources.