Ethics of Nuclear Energy- climate change

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


This paper attempts to refute the myth of “clean nuclear energy”, and discusses the unethical impact on the environment of the overall process of the nuclear energy electricity production industry, from mining to decommissioning, through the problematic framework of “health risk analysis”, “economical feasibility” and “sustainability”. It also focuses on the economic and safety fragility of developing countries in the South to deal with big loans or a possible catastrophe, not to mention managing nuclear waste for a very long period of time.

Finally, the paper diverges all the inductions of the different criteria discussed towards inferring a global categorically imperative ethical perception based on a biocentric stance that takes United Nations recommendations into consideration, such as the “Precautionary Principle”, the declarations on Human Rights and the rights of future generations to a healthy and sustainable environment, in order to settle down to an “ecosophical” conclusion.

1- Introduction: The “clean nuclear energy” myth!

Nuclear energy is still one of the options used today across the world, thought to be a clean source of energy that produces neither CO2 nor other Ozone related pollutants into the atmosphere. However, it is now been verified that the complete fuel cycle of nuclear energy production is generous in producing GHG as well as CFCs; from mining and milling to fuel enrichment, constructing and operating the nuclear facility, transportation of nuclear fuel, safety and security measures, reprocessing and recycling the depleted nuclear fuel, manufacturing by-products, encasing and burying the nuclear waste and eventually decommissioning the nuclear facility and its surrounding environment, including the contaminated soil(1).

Concerned communities in Japan who are removing contaminated soil and conducting clean up operations are using independent researchers because they have lost faith in their government: “The roots of mistrust came out after authorities issued radiation readings that often turned out to be incorrect”(2). This comes as a proof that governments don’t consider life cycle assessment mechanisms in calculating accurate GHG emissions, insurance, cost of KWh of electricity produced or genome radioactive infuriation. Most of the research is government sponsored or controlled by nuclear commissions, thus falling in “conflict of interest” controversy.

The nuclear fuel cycle is a generous CO2 emitter that can exceed 288 grams of CO2 e/KWh, or (66)g as a mean value, even when existing studies fail to consider emissions of co-products (3) which cause global warming too. Research on light water nuclear reactors showed CO2 emission up to 220 g/KWh (4), yet this value is expected to rise as uranium ore grade worldwide is deteriorating by time. The USA ore grade average, for example, dropped from 0.28% U3O8 to 0.07 – 0.11% (1100 ppm) in 40 years (5). The complete life cycle assessment mechanism considered to calculate CO2 equivalent (CO2 e/KWh) in the previous analysis can raise this value significantly!……”

One Response to “Ethics of Nuclear Energy- climate change”

  1. Nuclear and Climate News to 3rd December – Australia and more | Nuclear Australia Says:

    […] on that unfashionable subject – ETHICS.  Some aspects of “nuclear ethics” are climate change, health and environment, sustainability, developing countries, economic feasibility,  – […]

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