Ethics of burdening developing countries with nuclear debts and nuclear wastes

Ethics of Nuclear Energy  Abu-Dayyeh (P.hD) Amman – H.K. of Jordan E_case Society (President)  [Extract]

“…..5- Nuclear energy in the South!

If all the latter costs were reallocated to consumers, an increase in the price for electricity between €0.139 and €2.36 for each kilowatt-hour will have to be administered for a period of commitment of 100 years(45). These estimates explicate the true cost of electricity produced from nuclear sources, similar to some predictions discussed earlier in the Japanese case, and thus urge few more reflections on the issue, such as:

Can developing countries in the South afford the actual prices of each KWh?

Is it ethical to overburden these developing nations with loans and radioactive waste management for millions of years?

To what extent can developing countries afford the risk of experiencing a major nuclear accident?

If small developing nations disintegrate due to a nuclear catastrophe, does this outcome open the way to asylum seekers flocking towards the North?

If a nuclear catastrophe strikes in the South, is the North ready to accommodate environmental refugees from the South?

If the answer is still yes, we suggest reminding the North that corruption risks are much higher in the South compared to the North, which thus dooms the investment in nuclear energy a failure! Furthermore, extra load management, upgrading the electricity grid, providing cooling water, constructing desalination plants for the cooling towers and facilitating the proper infra-structure are all factors to consider. Not to mention that a higher risk of a catastrophe would be predicted in the South due to shortages in skilled labor and because of the loose ends of cultural safety values typical of under developed countries.

As for non-proliferation, each nuclear power plant of around 1000 MW produces around 200 kg of plutonium every year, which is enough to arm 20 nuclear warheads. Wouldn’t that be an incentive for some countries to plunder the resources of others by force?

Enriching uranium U235 to 3.5%, for use in nuclear reactors, produces huge amounts of U238 (depleted Uranium), enough to encase tonnes of missiles annually. Who can guarantee these lethal weapons not to be used in the future for the destruction of humanity, as it has already been used in Yugoslavia, Iraq and Afghanistan?

Environmental degradation already accounts for 3-5% of GDP for some countries in the Middle East and North Africa, such as Jordan and Egypt. Uranium mining in these countries will worsen the environmental conditions which are already out of control, such as phosphate tailings in Rusaifa and Hasa in Jordan, which have bewailed the natural environment beyond recovery!

Creation of jobs is essential too when considering any investment in the South as unemployment is very high there. In a country like Namibia, were uranium mines had been utilized for a long time, the percentage of unemployment reached 51.2% in 2008(46). What about construction and operating nuclear facilities, are they labor intensive?

Energy source-jobs per tera watt hours are underlined in the following table:

Natural Gas 250 jobs / TWh
Coal 370 jobs / TWh
Nuclear 75 jobs / TWh
Wood 733 jobs / TWh
Hydro 250 jobs / TWh
Wind 918 – 2400 jobs / TWh
Photo-voltaic 29580 – 107000 jobs / TWh

Table 1: Jobs per tera watt hours of electricity production (47)

It looks quite obvious that the nuclear industry is the poorest concerning jobs per energy production. Hence, developing countries need to be motivated to resort to intensive labor energy sources, away from logging and deforestation, by promoting wind and solar energy which provide far more jobs than the nuclear industry. Renewable and clean energy jobs are both decentralized, require no high skilled labor and are safe and secure energy sources; decentralization and jobs are badly needed in the South as migration from rural areas to cities is intensifying and many skilled labor had already migrated to the North.

As for safety and security, we wonder! With the present reputation of safety and security in the South, can developing countries minimize the risks of a nuclear disaster?

Expert nuclear engineer David Lochbaum responds to our question:

It is not if we are going to have nuclear accidents but when” (48)!

If developing countries can afford nuclear accidents and can recover from such catastrophes, like what happened in Japan at Fukushima, developing countries of the South cannot for the reasons discussed earlier.,,,,,”

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