Our Position on Nuclear Energy – From the E3 Committee

Position Summary: The E3 Committee does not endorse nuclear energy for power generation. Nuclear energy requires dirty fuels and imposes unacceptable risks at multiple points of the nuclear fuel cycle, such as

  • health risks to miners and communities around uranium mines;
  • risks from release of radioactive material into air, water and soil;
  • unresolved issues with spent fuel storage and reprocessing;
  • inadequate reactor safety and evacuation plans;
  • safety issues with some reactor core designs;
  • unresolved issues of  long term waste disposal;
  • a history of inadequate public accountability and transparency on the part of industry and regulatory agencies;
  • connections between nuclear power and nuclear weapons. 

Apart from its dependence on a non-renewable fuel, nuclear energy imposes “cradle to the grave” impacts related to extraction, energy production and disposal of nuclear waste. There are known issues at these points in the nuclear chain:

Extraction; mine waste tailings and ponds; fuel production; fuel and waste transport; plant construction; siting issues including earthquake zones, population density, flooding risk; reactor construction; reactor safety and backup systems; industry transparency; industry and NRC relations; spent fuel storage, reprocessing and disposal; fuel and spent fuel security; emergency and evacuation plans; reactor core design issues.

Human health risks.

The potential health impacts of exposure to uranium and mining chemicals are well-documented in global studies of people working in and living near mines. Consequences of exposure include lung cancer, bone cancer, leukemia, birth defects, weakened immune systems, hormone disruption, and damage to DNA, the kidney and liver. Source: SELC

Bioaccumulation: According to health experts such as Dr. Helen Calidicott, there is no safe dose of radiation and radiation is cumulative in the human body.

Environmental health risks.

There are known risks for pollution of air, water and soil from extraction, processing and waste handling. Contamination of land, air and water in turn places vegetation and wildlife at risk. Like many other substances, radioactive material that is inhaled, absorbed or ingested builds up (bioaccumulates) in animal tissue, thus impacting all life higher up the food chain.

Economic health risks such as jobs, subsidies, and other externalized costs.

As with many other sources of energy, many of the costs for impacts to health, infrastructure and the environment will be externalized to states, communities, workers and the public.

A culture of arrogance and lack of transparency by industry and regulators threatens worker safety at mines, processing facilities, nuclear plants, clean-up sites and waste disposal facilities.

Recent studies show that renewable, sustainable energy sources and energy efficiency can create more jobs for less money than expensive construction of nuclear power plants.

Other environmental justice aspects.

Human health and environmental impacts upon the Navajo Nation (as well as other Indigenous cultures around the world) from uranium mining is well documented

Current Nuclear Issues in Tennessee and the Region

  • TVA’s intentions for nuclear power generation.
  • Known safety issues at existing nuclear plants in Tennessee and adjacent states.
  • Shipment of nuclear waste to Tennessee from other states and nations for reprocessing or incineration.
  • Legacy nuclear waste and contamination, Oak Ridge.
  • Recent pressure for removal of uranium mining ban in Virginia.
  • Chattanooga shale as a potential source of uranium, and for NORM release related to oil and gas well production.
  • Production of depleted uranium weapons in East Tennessee
  • Improper management of nuclear material in facilities across Tennessee, posing a national security risk

Additional Factsheets on Nuclear Energy [Nuclear Information & Resource Service]

These statements represent the E3 Committee’s current position on nuclear energy production and are subject to change.

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