Why nuclear power is off the table in the fight against climate change

To the editor: Robert Bryce glosses over the "many hurdles" of nuclear energy almost as an afterthought. He omits entirely the best argument against choosing nuclear energy to address climate change: time. ("Nuclear power must be a part of greener future," Op-Ed, Nov. 12)

The "next generation reactors" are the same old — and failed — sodium-cooled and other "fast" reactor designs that have been under development for decades. The current reactor designs do not meet our needs, with most around the world mired in delays and costs overruns.

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The U.S. Department of Energy has been funding a "next generation" favorite, the small modular reactor, since the 1990s. Today, there are still no such reactors in operation, and the Nuclear Regulatory Commission has yet to receive a license application.

Climate change can't afford to wait for these last-century energy dinosaurs. On the other hand, unlike costly and dangerous nuclear power, renewables are meeting energy needs quickly and without the problem of a deadly waste legacy or risking the diversion of radioactive materials.

Linda Pentz Gunter, Takoma Park, Md.

The writer is an international specialist with Beyond Nuclear.


To the editor: Bryce wants us to build new nuclear power plants as a partial solution to global warming. He wants Congress to pay for testing new designs for nuclear plants and tells us that "nuclear energy's importance in reducing emissions is beyond dispute."

However, he minimizes the enormous issue with nuclear energy: the long-term hazard created by waste, a problem he refers to as "thorny."

It would be lovely if nuclear power were the panacea for climate change, but spent nuclear fuel is estimated to remain dangerous for tens of thousands of years.

Rendering parts of our planet permanently uninhabitable is more than a "thorny" problem. It is the main reason that nuclear energy is not a viable solution to for global warming or anything else related to our energy needs.

Alleviating the potential for one environmental catastrophe by creating another one is not the answer.

Mark Shoup, Apple Valley

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