Debate: Go nuclear? We may do

Submitted by Anon on 4 March, 2005 - 2:35

Martin Thomas says there are ways to make nuclear power pollute less (Solidarity 3-67). Maybe so. I dare say this might be taken into consideration when the US government starts building new nuclear power stations, as it look sets to do. (And they may be followed in that enterprise by the UK government.) On the other hand it might not.

Martin is making a case for considering nuclear power as one option (among many), and only to be considered if all the safety considerations are taken into account. Okay, but he seems to have not addressed the big problem with nuclear power production.

No amount of human ingenuity can get round the fact that high level nuclear waste has a gigantically long half life, is immensely toxic, and is enormously difficult to dispose of. Actually the idea that you can dispose of it at all is fallacious. All we can do is store it somewhere and hope it doesn’t cause problems for future generations.

Do we absolutely know that we can store it safely? I’m not sure.

There are three options: blast it off into space, bury it under the sea bed, bury it in large rock formations. The problem is that we do not know if any these methods, which seem safe now, will prove to be less than safe in the future. Who knows what will happen to the sea bed in, say, 5,000 years time. Only the biggest philistine would say, “who cares, we won’t be around to see it.”

Before too long many governments will be promoting nuclear fuel as the only way to combat global warming. Because of this I do agree with Martin on one thing, the left urgently needs to debate the issue.

Sam Ruby

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