Nuclear power - the costs that should concern us all
The costs of nuclear power that the UK government doesn’t consider or reveal to the public
Radio-active, toxic waste
Nuclear power generation creates vast quantities of cancer-causing radioactive waste which remains highly dangerous and radioactive for many generations to come, in fact for thousands of years. This nuclear waste presents environmental problems and costs which are so great that they cannot be paid for within the lifetimes of people currently alive. The waste from current and recent nuclear power stations has not been successfully stored and no-one has so far suggested a satisfactory way of doing this. See the extracts below from a recent government report on this problem
The decommissioning of nuclear power stations at the end of their useful life is part of this environmental problem.
Building costs are enormous and have, so far, always gone well over budget. According to December 2017 estimates, Hinkley Point nuclear power station currently under construction was to be built for £20.3bn by 2025, to be paid for over a 35 year period. It is now estimated that it will cost between £21.5bn and £22.5bn (BBC)
The costs of decommissioning (cleaning up the radio-active defunct nuclear power stations and removing radio-active waste to yet-to-be-built safe storage facilities which need to remain safe for thousands of years) are beyond calculation (see the extracts from a UK Government’s Public Accounts Committee report below) – a financial burden which is omitted from cost calculations of nuclear energy. The energy companies will pass the waste disposal problem and costs onto succeeding governments and generations. We (and our children) will pay for this in our energy bills and taxation.
The UK government’s Public Accounts Committee report
The Public Accounts Committee report describes the cost of dismantling spent nuclear reactors and disposing of nuclear waste as “ inherently uncertain”. It has drawn attention to the incompetence with which waste disposal and decommissioning are handled in the UK, and the estimate that today’s waste could take up to 120 years to make safe. If these costs are added into the cost of nuclear “cheap energy” it will be seen as not only highly dangerous but also far more expensive than the day-to-day running costs would suggest.