Nuclear power conjures up vivid imagery in some, evoking thoughts of mushroom clouds and radiation. Although a wonderful inspiration for writers, the truth is that nuclear power is safer and more environmentally friendly than most other readily available sources of electricity generation. Until such a time that renewable energy can reliably generate all of our electricity, nuclear is the best option.
The Chernobyl accident is often cited as a nightmarish scenario: on April 26, 1986, while testing a new safety system to reduce
the risk of meltdown, engineers ironically caused a meltdown in Reactor Number 4. Opponents of nuclear power refer to the displacement of 50,000 residents in the nearby city of Pripyat who were forced to evacuate. But what they fail to note is that the other three reactors remained in operation, the last one being decommissioned in 2000. The nightmarish myth of Chernobyl is greatly exaggerated.
But what can nuclear power do for us? For this we turn to our friends to the South; France. In the U.K. we generate 21 per cent of our electricity from nuclear reactors, with half of our current facilities due to be retired by 2025. France, by contrast, generates 75 per cent of its electricity from nuclear, with 17 per cent from recycled nuclear waste. Burning fossil fuels to generate electricity instead releases greenhouse gases such as carbon dioxide which cause climate change. In 2014, the carbon dioxide emissions of France were 77.8 per cent of ours, despite a larger population of around one million.
From an environmental perspective, the dangers are overrated and the benefits too great not to take advantage of. Nuclear is the way forward: it’s safe, clean and the technology of the future.
Nuclear power is a waste of valuable time and resources. Once, before energy consumption was increasing daily and before the world erupted into various socio-economic crises, the idea of nuclear power could have been a viable option for the UK; but not today. Today it is too little, too late. Nuclear power would not stop climate change, as poorly-informed government officials seem to think. Even with the maximum forecast of ten reactors by 2024, the carbon emissions of the UK would only fall by 4 per cent. Worse still, the time lost to such reactors would stunt the development of the real solutions to climate change: renewable energy.
Today it is too expensive and the UK itself could not, and has not, paid for such an enterprise. The Government has outsourced the
new Hinkley Nuclear Power plant to France and China, paying virtually none of the initial £18 billion estimated costs. This also immediately cuts the benefits the UK would receive, meaning the French and the Chinese will reap the jobs and possible rewards from the plants and not have to deal with the most pressing issues in regards to the environment.
Today it is also far too dangerous. There are numerous very real and eerily obvious dangers. Right now the UK already has enough radioactive waste to fill Wembley Stadium, twice. That’s almost 10,000 meters squared of life threatening material that the government plans on shoving underground to remain excessively dangerous for millions of years. There is no guarantee this waste won’t seep into soil, water or food sources. There is no guarantee it won’t be spilt from one of the trains that pass unnoticed and unsecured through villages all over the country weekly because of an accident, a collision or even a terrorist attack. Nuclear power is not worth it.