Why is nuclear power considered to be a “clean” energy source when its waste is so contaminating/dangerous?


Like. Nuclear waste/disasters contaminate areas for thousands of years and cause cancer. Why is that “clean”?

In: 9

28 Answers

Anonymous 0 Comments

Nuclear waste is *very* small…compared to virtually any other it’s incredibly low volume and relatively easy to store. Coal plants actually emit far more radiation than nuclear plants (coal is mildly radioactive and it all goes out the stacks).

The entire volume of all nuclear waste that humanity will ever produce could fit in an area about the size of a single power plant. It lasts a long time, which is a problem, but if you contain it it’s harmless. That’s *NOT* true for most other power generation technologies.

Anonymous 0 Comments

The main thing is that we have gotten much better about storing nuclear waste safely, and making better reactors that are far less likely to have meltdowns. So compared to a power plant that’s burning coal or oil, modern nuclear plants are much better for the environment.

Anonymous 0 Comments

Because regardless of how dangerous the waste is, we have control over it. We know exactly where it is contained, buried down in bunkers or drown in pools. That is opposed to carbon dioxide that is simply released in the atmosphere and that we cannot grab back.

Also, the quantities are relatively small. About 2000 metric tons of nuclear waste per year in the US, versus 5 BILLION metric tons of CO2.

Obviously accidents happen – Chernobyl and Fukushima -, and that tilts the balance, but we are talking about normal circumstances.

Anonymous 0 Comments

Clean in the context of global warming. Nuclear energy produces very little GHG potential per kWh of energy produced.

Further; the overwhelming majority of “nuclear waste” is actually produced away from nuclear power and nuclear weapon facilities. It’s basically just either mildly irradiated trash (that has to be allowed to “cool off” for lack of a better word before being disposed of normally)…or is just *suspected* of being mildly irradiated trash. The actual total amount of the real scary nuclear waste produced by all civilian nuclear projects would fit in an olympic swimming pool with room to spare.

Anonymous 0 Comments

Among experts, it sort of isn’t. But sort of is. In my environmental science classes many years ago, energy was divided into three categories: fossil fuels, renewable, and nuclear. It’s just so much its own thing in terms of upsides and downsides and tradeoffs that it goes in its own category.

Certainly as global warming has become more and more accepted politically (it was accepted scientifically decades ago) people are liking nuclear for its low carbon footprint and its reliability (AFAIK hydroelectric is the only renewable power source that’s as controllable).

On the other hand, it dismays me how much reddit in particular has gotten pro-nuke in recent years and just dismissing out of hand the known and potential problems. If there’s one thing Chernobyl, Three Mile Island, and Fukushima should have taught us is that the *next* nuclear power catastrophe will almost certainly not happen in a way that the last ones did, and by extension we don’t really know as much as we’d like to about the safety engineering of the technology particularly if we scaled it up as much as we’d have to to use it as part of a global warming solution.

Anonymous 0 Comments

You can easily store the nuclear waste and not have to worry about it much. There’s also relatively little waste to handle from nuclear plants.

And because ALL of the waste from nuclear plants is normally stored somewhere safely, it’s NOT going in the environment at all and hence nuclear plants are indeed very very clean ecologically speaking.

Anonymous 0 Comments

1. Usually when people are using the word clean in the context of energy production, they are talking about the impact on climate change. Nuclear produce very little greenhouse gases, which make it clean.
2. People fear what they don’t know so for most people nuclear radiation or nuclear waste is like a big dangerous thing. The truth is that most things we do produce dangerous (often radioactive) waste. With nuclear, the waste are concentrated in very little mass, yes it seem dangerous but it’s far easier to control and secure. Compare that to particle and gases that are released in the air, which causes millions of death per year from respiratory disease. The death are a lot more direct with nuclear, but there is far less of them.

If you look at the number of death caused by each type of energy. Nuclear kill less than one person per terawatt hour of energy produced, Natural gas kill 2-4 people and Coal kill 20-100 people. (The variation depend on the study and what they include).

Nuclear might seem scary, but it create a lot less problem than most other source of energy.

3) When you talk about contamination it’s a bit more complex than that. Radiation is everywhere around us. It’s in the soil you walk on, it’s in the food you eat, it’s in the air you breath. Radiation isn’t an on (bad) and off (good) switch. It’s a gradient that fluctuate with everything you do and everywhere you go. What is important is how much radiation people are exposed.

[Here](https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TRL7o2kPqw0) is a video talking about radioactivity around us.

Anonymous 0 Comments

It’s clean because it produces 0 carbon emissions. The waste is radioactive and hazardous, yes, but we can dispose of it as opposed to spewing harmful gases in the atmosphere.

Anonymous 0 Comments

The problem is that nuclear energy is popularly considered as “dangerous” while other modes of energy generation are implicitly considered to be “danger free”. Nuclear is, again in popular culture, held to a standard of absolute safety, which doesn’t exist in reality, for any mode of electricity generation.

When you [compare different ways](https://sci-hub.hkvisa.net/10.1016/j.ress.2015.09.013) to generate electricity, safety discussions become more nuanced. You notice that roughly speaking, renewable sources have [comparable mortality](https://ourworldindata.org/grapher/death-rates-from-energy-production-per-twh) per unit of produced energy as nuclear. Severe accident fatality rates are comparable for current generation nuclear and wind/solar. Accident rate for next gen nuclear is lowest of all modes of generation.

These safety considerations include factors such as waste.

Anonymous 0 Comments

This whole question sounds suspiciously like concern trolling and I don’t think you really need this explained to you. You have an agenda, and you’re batting for the wrong team. You must like hurricanes.