Cleanzine: your weekly cleaning and hygiene industry newsletter 1st June 2023 Issue no. 1067
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Recycle nuclear waste to fight climate crisis, urge green campaigners
If nuclear waste were recycled and repurposed as fuel for advanced nuclear reactors it could generate up to a millennia of zero carbon electricity for Europe, says a new report released this week by the international environmental campaign group RePlanet.
Nuclear spent fuel (the most radioactive part of so-called nuclear waste) could, according to the report, be used in advanced nuclear plants known as 'fast reactors' to create between 600 - 1,000 years of carbon-free electricity for the entire European Union.
The 'What a Waste' campaign argues that spent nuclear fuel should not be buried in deep geological repositories, but should instead be maintained in accessible form and used to power a clean energy future.
One of the report authors, climate writer Mark Lynas, argues that calling irradiated nuclear fuel 'waste' is the wrong approach given that more than 90% of the fissionable energy remains unused, and that the potential of recycling spent nuclear fuel for advanced nuclear reactors means that nuclear waste is a 'solved problem'.
The United Nations Economic Commission for Europe report in 2022 found that nuclear energy has the lowest lifecycle environmental footprint of any energy source, and the EU's Joint Research Centre (JRC) found in its report that “Analyses did not reveal any science-based evidence that nuclear energy does more harm to human health or to the environment than other [sustainable] electricity production technologies”.
Launching this week's report, RePlanet campaigners called on Green Parties of Europe to end their 'dangerous and unscientific' opposition to nuclear energy. This is particularly important given the recent release of the IPCC Synthesis Report, which argues that the world is rapidly running out of time to cut carbon emissions sufficiently to meet the Paris goal of 1.5C.
RePlanet campaigners state that opposition to nuclear is tantamount to climate delayerism from fossil fuel corporations because it will increase carbon emissions.
"The IPCC has again made it extremely clear that we just have to get off fossil fuels and opposing clean energy technologies like nuclear puts the world on the path to irreversible climate breakdown," says Karolina Lisslö Gylfe, secretary general of RePlanet, while Tea Törmänen, international coordinator at RePlanet and member of the Finnish Green Party says:
"European Green parties need to follow the Green Party here in Finland in supporting nuclear energy as part of the clean energy transition. Our new nuclear plant is now starting up and will accelerate Finland's transition to Net Zero."
Mark Lynas, climate author and RePlanet co-founder adds: "Current political narratives treat spent nuclear fuel like it is a waste product that needs to be buried underground, leaving a toxic legacy for future generations. Anti-nuclear campaigners never tire of repeating this mantra in their campaign to shut down nuclear plants irrespective of our climate emergency. However we show in this RePlanet report that nuclear waste simply needs to be recycled efficiently in order to generate centuries of clean power for the UK and Europe. This material is not waste, it is fuel for the future."
Joel Scott-Halkes, campaigns coordinator of RePlanet says: "Nuclear 'waste' isn't waste at all. It's a huge opportunity to create centuries of carbon-free electricity just when we need it most".
UK specific facts on recycling nuclear fissionable material…
• The UK has enough depleted uranium, spent nuclear fuel, and plutonium in its stockpiles (over 100,000 metric tonnes of heavy metal) to run the UK at current power demand (335 TWh per year) for 1,300 to 2,300 years.
• In volumetric terms, this equates to a use of only 2.4 cubic metres of fuel (smaller than an average family car) to run the entire country for a year (45 tonnes of metal fuel).
• This is only 0.036 cubic centimetres per person per year. For an individual's lifetime use, the volume would be 2.86 cm3, less than a tenth of a golf ball.
Image courtesy of RePlanet: ‘Fuel for the future!’ report author Mark Lynas and RePlanet colleague Joel Scott-Halkes hug a canister of nuclear spent fuel
You can read the report at:
https://drive.google.com/file/d/1oa4A8gtQfdBOCJYPl80QYiXXLjP3TSDq/view | www.replanet.ngo
13th April 2023