Proliferation Press

A webpage devoted to tracking and analyzing current events related to the proliferation of WMD/CBRN.

Greenpeace Gone Nuclear? An interview with Patrick Moore

Posted by K.E. White on January 31, 2008

Zdnet.com offers this interview with Patrick Moore, co-chair of the Clean and Safe Energy Coalition. But did you know Moore also co-founded Greenpeace?

Moore talks about the need to go nuclear, and why environmental concerns over this technology—whether based on weapons proliferation, waste worries, or environmental impact—are missing the point.

But Moore does glance over some issues. First, in speaking of the renewed global interest in nuclear technology, there really is no way (yet) to police the nuclear actions of foreign countries (eg Iran or North Korea). And while he speaks glowingly of the GNEP, he glosses over real worries with the program. From Arms Control Today:

GNEP seeks to develop new nuclear technologies, particularly for reprocessing spent nuclear fuel, and new international nuclear fuel arrangements. Administration officials claim that these efforts will reduce nuclear waste and decrease the risk that an anticipated growth in the use of nuclear energy worldwide could spur nuclear proliferation. Critics on Capitol Hill and elsewhere assert that the administration’s course would exacerbate the proliferation risks posed by the spread of spent fuel reprocessing technologies, be prohibitively expensive, fail to ease waste disposal challenges significantly, and lack any certainty that the claimed technologies will ever be developed.

GNEP’s critics were bolstered by an October report from a National Research Council (NRC) panel, commissioned by the Department of Energy, that concluded that the department should “not move forward” with the program, particularly efforts to develop new commercial-scale facilities for reprocessing and for burning a new type of nuclear fuel. (See ACT, December 2007.)

But such international concerns don’t speak to Moore’s main argument: America should go nuclear. But, even here, he omits difficulties with nuclear waste. Look at Britain’s experience with decommissioning their nuclear power plants (from the Guardian):

 

The costs of cleaning up waste from Britain’s first civil nuclear power programme are still rising and uncertainties abound, the National Audit Office, the country’s public spending watchdog, said on Wednesday.

Its report comes three weeks after the British government finally gave the green light to a new fleet of nuclear power stations to replace the retiring plants and help the country meet its carbon emission commitments.

But the current 73 billion pound cost of decommissioning the 19 existing nuclear sites over the next century is 18 percent above initial estimates, and the costs of even near-term actions are still rising when they should have stabilised.

 

Moore points to new technologies that undoubtedly one day alleviates such concerns. But by never tackling nuclear waste disposal directly, I have concerns over just have operational these new tools are today.

None of this reputes Moore’s chief contention: the benefits of going nuclear outweigh the costs. Getting off coal energy would be beneficial. And other perhaps other alternative sources of energy are more ‘Candyland’ than real.

But wouldn’t—just speaking hypothetically—increasing every car’s per gallon mileage by 50-100 percent over the next 10-20 years do just as much for the environment? And this proposal would have two added bonuses: American energy independence without cementing Utah’s role as the world’s nuclear dumping ground.

But on one point Moore and I would agree: America cannot continue to ignore all nuclear energy technology. Research must continue. Like it or not nuclear is in the picture—and its not going anywhere.

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2 Responses to “Greenpeace Gone Nuclear? An interview with Patrick Moore”

  1. Pluto Boy said

    All this really reveals how the media has been sucked into the smoke and haze that Patrick Moore has been throwing out. He has no credibility in the environmental community. I worked for the Greenpeace nuclear campaign for 15 years and never heard the guy’s name until the nuclear industry decided to use him as a front and the media feel in love with him. What an interesting study – analyzing how a false idol was created and how he continued with loads of money from special interests. He should be ignored and allowed to slink back from whence he came.

  2. Nice ad hominem attack, Pluto Boy. Are you going to present a substantiative argument against Moore’s claims?

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