Thursday, June 14, 2007

Nuclear Misinformation

The best insights about the future of nuclear power usually come from those in the thick of the debate. John Abbotts, a research scientist and member of the Hanford Task Force of Washington Physicians for Social Responsibility, offered these thoughts in an opinion piece published in the Seattle Times.
As their supporters have noted, atomic energy plants do not directly produce greenhouse gases during their operation. But they do produce prodigious amounts of radioactive waste, along with material that can be fashioned into atomic bombs.

Keeping the radioactive materials under control requires a complicated regulatory infrastructure; thus, it would be at least 10 years before new reactors could be designed, licensed, constructed and begin operation. By then, their capacity and energy demands could be a mismatch.

Not only would reactor plants take too long to have a significant impact on global warming, but they are expensive, multibillion-dollar facilities. It is faster and much more economical to save energy through efficiency improvements than to generate it through new power plants.

It's well worth reading the full column for the additional perspective.