Even if we doubled the amount of nuclear power in the UK there would only be an 8% reduction in greenhouse gases. Nuclear power is neither carbon emission free nor would new power stations come on stream for at least ten years.
The use of nuclear power threatens the environment and people’s health. No safe solution has yet been devised to store its carcinogenic toxic radioactive waste, some of which is dangerous for thousands of years. It also leaves us vulnerable to the possibility of nuclear accidents or even terrorist attack.
Embarking on the creation of a new generation of nuclear plants also sends the wrong message internationally, where building a nuclear reactor is a necessary step in the creation of a nuclear weapon. If we want any credibility in discouraging the proliferation of nuclear weapons, we cannot discourage others from building reactors whilst we construct many more of our own. An energy mix of renewable energy sources, cleaned up fossil fuels and energy efficiency measures – all of which are safe, effective and proven technologies - is available now.
In May 2007, before the Labour government's second consultation on nuclear power, The Observer reported how Gordon Brown had already made up his mind over nuclear. "The Prime Minister-elect will give the green light to the plans that will show that he is backing Tony Blair's support of the nuclear industry", reported the paper. "The Chancellor will signal his support this week for a dramatic renewal of the nuclear power programme that will see the building of up to eight new stations, possibly within 15 years."
What makes this decision politically sensitive, is that Gordon Brown has close family connections to the nuclear industry. His younger brother Andrew Brown works for EDF Energy, the UK subsidiary of EDF, which operates nuclear power stations in France, and which is one of the leading companies pushing for a nuclear rebuild programme in the UK. Andrew Brown was appointed as EDF Energy's Head of Press on 13 September 2004. Previously, he worked for the lobbying company Weber Shandwick.
One of Brown's key advisors is Ed Balls, whose father-in-law Tony Cooper is a long-standing nuclear lobbyist.
What are the arguments?
Nuclear power is not the answer to climate change
* Nuclear power is not carbon emission free! The whole nuclear cycle from uranium mining onwards produces more greenhouse gases than most renewable energy sources with up to 50% more emissions than wind power. Even if we doubled nuclear power in the UK it would only reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 8%. This is because nuclear power only contributes to electricity generation which only accounts for up to a third of all carbon emissions (transport and industry account for most of the rest).
* Climate change is happening now. A new nuclear power station will take at least 10 years to build and longer to generate electricity. Wind farms can be up and running in less than a year.
* It’s expensive. The nuclear industry is massively subsidised by the British public. Sizewell B, the UK’s most recent power station cost the taxpayer around £3.7billion just to install Decommissioning and cleaning up all of our current nuclear sites is costing more than £70 billion.
* It’s not sustainable. The reserves of uranium ores used to generate nuclear power are going to run out. There is only 50 years worth of high uranium ores left in the world. There may be only 200 years left of all uranium ores including poor uranium ores which take more energy to mine and process and thus release more carbon emissions.
Nuclear power is dirty and dangerous
* Nuclear power threatens the environment and people’s health. It produces enormous amounts of carcinogenic toxic radioactive waste, some of which is dangerous for thousands of years. No safe solution has yet been devised to store it. In particular, there is evidence of cancer clusters linked to nuclear power production. Building new nuclear power stations would increase the most toxic high level waste five-fold.
* Uranium mining kills. Uranium mining is the first step in the nuclear power cycle; it has taken the lives of many miners all over the world causing environmental contamination, cancers and nuclear waste.
* Nuclear accidents. The risk of terrible nuclear accidents like Chernobyl, Three Mile Island and Windscale (Sellafield) will plague a new generation of power stations as it did the first.
* A terrorist target. Nuclear power carries with it the risk of nuclear terrorism. In this age of uncertainty, dirty bombs and attacks on power stations are a terrifying threat.
* The proliferation of nuclear weapons is inextricably linked to nuclear power by a shared need for enriched uranium, and through the generation of plutonium as a by-product of spent nuclear fuel. The two industries have been linked since the very beginning and a nuclear weapons free world requires a non-nuclear energy policy.
We need a safe, genuinely sustainable, global and green solution to our energy needs. A combination of renewable energy sources and energy efficiency measures which are safe, effective and proven technologies are available now. The government must live up to its Kyoto agreements and invest in sustainable clean solutions to climate change.
Nuclear Power: Not Worth the Risk (94 Kb - Format pdf)CNDWith the closure of most of our remaining nuclear reactors in the next decade, the British public is being subjected to a sustained campaign suggesting that new nuclear power stations are safer, economic, 'ready for deployment', and vitally necessary in order to combat carbon dioxide emissions which contribute to climate change. The Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament (CND) believes that these assertions are not justified and welcomes a debate on ensuring appropriate energy supply and demand.This document is in PDF format and can be read using Acrobat Reader.
Nuclear Power and Nuclear Weapons (142 Kb - Format pdf)CNDThe links between nuclear power and nuclear weapons go back to the very beginning of the development of atomic energy. Over time the nature and strength of these links have varied. Any country that has nuclear power has the potential to make nuclear weapons.This document is in PDF format and can be read using Acrobat Reader.