Nuclear is not the solution to climate change.

Campaign for Nuclear Phaseout


Nuclear power is not a solution to climate change.

Ottawa, November 28, 1997 -- Canada shouldn't get greenhouse gas credits for selling or using nuclear power, environmental activists said today. Prime Minister Jean Chrétien has suggested that nuclear energy may be part of his platform at the climate change negotiations in Kyoto. The Canadian Nuclear Association boosted the idea in a newspaper ad published across Canada earlier this week. The ad urged the federal government to include nuclear power as an "integral part of the solution at the Kyoto conference."

Dr. Gordon Edwards of the Canadian Coalition for Nuclear Responsibility pointed out that,

"Chrétien is crazy if he thinks the nuclear priesthood has the solution to global warming. Exporting nuclear reactors just adds more problems to those that already exist by scattering plutonium, high level radioactive waste and potential Chernobyls around the world. If Ottawa wants to reduce greenhouse gas emissions it should help Canadians to save money by reducing domestic energy consumption."

According to a U.S. study, every dollar invested in energy efficiency displaces seven times as much CO2 emissions as the same dollar invested in nuclear power (Keepin and Kats study). In addition, the Royal Society of Canada found that "improved energy efficiency is the key to stabilising energy-related CO2 emissions over the next two decades." (the COGGER panel). Nuclear power is not even mentioned in the Royal Society study as a viable alternative energy source to fossil fuels.

Irene Kock of the Nuclear Awareness Project stated,

"Nuclear power is not a solution for climate change. It is a cynical gambit on the part of the global nuclear power industry to save itself from being phased out. In addition to the risk of catastrophic accidents, nuclear power is hazardous because of pollution from day-to-day operations. All stages of the nuclear fuel chain, including uranium mining, processing, refining, fuel fabrication, reactor operations and nuclear waste handling, emit radioactive, carcinogenic pollutants."

She noted that CANDU reactors routinely emit tritium, a radioactive, carcinogenic form of hydrogen.

"Local tritium levels are far above background levels in the vicinity of CANDU reactors. Exposure to tritium and other radioactive pollutants increases the risk of cancer and other health problems. Spent nuclear fuel is instantly lethal and remains toxic for more than a million years. No agreement has been reached on how to dispose of this high level radioactive waste, which is currently stored at each reactor site around the globe."

Elizabeth May of the Sierra Club of Canada stated,

"the nuclear industry and its supporters in government are trying to revive a dying industry through the climate change negotiating process. Climate change is one of the most serious problems facing the planet. Not only does nuclear power not address the problem, it diverts funds away from energy efficiency measures."

Kristen Ostling of the Campaign for Nuclear Phaseout said,

"It would seem that the Prime Minister has his head stuck somewhere between a uranium mine and an oil well. He should not be acting the part of salesman for the Canadian nuclear industry, using large sums of public money to finance nuclear deals. The choice is not between nuclear power or fossil fuel. The way forward is through energy efficiency and renewables."

Ostling noted that CANDU reactors have a history of accidents and maintenance problems as well as declining performance. In 1996, Ontario Hydro's 19 operating reactors ran at 66 percent capacity. In addition, fossil-fuelled generating stations are typically used in conjunction with nuclear stations, in order to meet daily peaks in electricity demand. Nuclear stations are not flexible enough to adjust to changing demand on short notice. Continued use of nuclear stations requires the continued use of fossil stations.

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For more information, contact:

Kristen Ostling, Campaign for Nuclear Phaseout, 613-789-3634
Elizabeth May, Sierra Club of Canada, 613-241-4611
Louise Comeau, Sierra Club of Canada (in Kyoto, 011 81 75 222-1300)
Irene Kock, Nuclear Awareness Project, 905-852-0571
Gordon Edwards, Canadian Coalition for Nuclear Responsibility, 514-489-5118

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