The Gazette-Times' Jan. 13 article about NuScale’s reactor certification, needs some clarification. NuScale’s “small modular reactor” is not: an answer to climate change, small, a “clean energy” source, nor inherently safe.
The nuclear industry has been selling us a story that nuclear power is a solution to climate change because it does not generate carbon dioxide (CO2), a major greenhouse gas. While this is true of the nuclear chain reaction itself, the front and back ends of nuclear power generate a large volume of CO2 and leave a trail of endlessly dangerous radioactivity along the way.
At the front end of nuclear power, carbon energy is used for uranium mining, processing, conversion, and enrichment, as well as for transportation, formulation of rods and construction of nuclear reactors (power plants). At the back end, there is the task of decommissioning and isolating highly radioactive nuclear waste for millennia — a task which science has so far not been able to address.
NuScale’s power plants are not small. Their plants contain 50 megawatt modules, but to be competitive with solar energy, wind energy or natural gas, they need all 12 modules (600 megawatts). Nuclear energy is not “clean energy.” This is understood with the ongoing Fukushima or Chernobyl tragedies. NuScale’s is not a fail-safe system, regardless of the nonhuman intervention with its passive design. Neither Mother Nature nor human nature can be anticipated completely. NuScale is not the answer to our energy problems, it will just add to them. Wind, solar and efficiency are better investments.
Corvallis (Jan. 16)