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Former Heads of Nuclear Regulation and Governmental Radiation Protection (Communiqué-Statement)

Nuclear is not a Practicable Means to Combat Climate Change.

Dr. Greg Jaczko, former Chairman of the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission.

Prof. Wolfgang Renneberg, former Head of the Reactor Safety, Radiation Protection and

Nuclear Waste, Federal Environment Ministry, Germany.

Dr. Bernard Laponche, former Director General, French Agency for Energy Management,

former Advisor to French Minister of Environment, Energy and Nuclear Safety.

Dr. Paul Dorfman, former Secretary UK Govt. Committee Examining Radiation Risk from Internal Emitters

makes clear that sea-level rise is ramping, along with destructive storm, storm surge, severe

precipitation and flooding, not forgetting wildfire. With mounting concern and recognition

over the speed and pace of the low carbon energy transition that’s needed, nuclear has been

reframed as a partial response to the threat of global heating. But at the heart of this are

questions about whether nuclear could help with the climate crisis, whether nuclear is

economically viable, what are the consequences of nuclear accidents, what to do with the

waste, and whether there’s a place for nuclear within the swiftly expanding renewable

energy evolution.

As key experts who have worked on the front-line of the nuclear issue, we’ve all involved at

the highest governmental nuclear regulatory and radiation protection levels in the US,

Germany, France and UK. In this context, we consider it our collective responsibility to

comment on the main issue: Whether nuclear could play a significant role as a strategy

against climate change.

The central message, repeated again and again, that a new generation of nuclear will be

clean, safe, smart and cheap, is fiction. The reality is nuclear is neither clean, safe or smart;

but a very complex technology with the potential to cause significant harm. Nuclear

isn’t cheap, but extremely costly. Perhaps most importantly nuclear is just not part of any

feasible strategy that could counter climate change. To make a relevant contribution to

global power generation, up to more than ten thousand new reactors would be required,

depending on reactor design.

In short, nuclear as strategy against climate change is:

• Too costly in absolute terms to make a relevant contribution to global power

production

• More expensive than renewable energy in terms of energy production and CO2

mitigation, even taking into account costs of grid management tools like energy

storage associated with renewables roll-out.

• Too costly and risky for financial market investment, and therefore dependent on

very large public subsidies and loan guarantees.

• Unsustainable due to the unresolved problem of very long-lived radioactive waste.

• Financially unsustainable as no economic institution is prepared to insure against the

full potential cost, environmental and human impacts of accidental radiation release

– with the majority of those very significant costs being borne by the public.

• Militarily hazardous since newly promoted reactor designs increase the risk of

nuclear weapons proliferation.

• Inherently risky due to unavoidable cascading accidents from human error, internal

faults, and external impacts; vulnerability to climate-driven sea-level rise, storm,

storm surge, inundation and flooding hazard, resulting in international economic

impacts.

• Subject to too many unresolved technical and safety problems associated with newer

unproven concepts, including ‘Advanced’ and Small Modular Reactors (SMRs).

• Too unwieldy and complex to create an efficient industrial regime for reactor

construction and operation processes within the intended build-time and scope

needed for climate change mitigation.

• Unlikely to make a relevant contribution to necessary climate change mitigation

needed by the 2030’s due to nuclears impracticably lengthy development and

construction time-lines, and the overwhelming construction costs of the very great

volume of reactors that would be needed to make a difference.

06.01.2022

Posted in *English.

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