Former NRC chairman remains clearly opposed to nuclear energy
n a perfect world, nuclear energy would be a perfect tool for combating climate change. Nuclear power plants don’t burn fossil fuels, don’t emit greenhouse gases into the environment and don’t speed global warming.
But with some groups reversing their former opposition to nuclear energy, former Nuclear Regulatory Commission Chairman Gregory Jaczko is going on the offensive to explain why nuclear energy is nowhere near a perfect solution to the climate crisis.
In a new book, Jaczko reiterates his longstanding criticism of the nuclear industry and his opposition to development of traditional nuclear power plants, which he says are unsafe despite technological improvements designed to make them safer.
Exhibit No. 1 in Jaczko’s argument is the Fukushima disaster. While Japan and other countries used nuclear power to limit their carbon emissions, he contends that the catastrophe at Fukushima wiped out environmental gains that Japan made by burning less fossil fuels.
“What happens after Fukushima is they shut down all of their nuclear plants over time,” Jaczko said during a phone interview with the Sun. “So then what did they do? They had to turn to polluting fossil fuels. So you wind up with this solution where it’s kind of boom or bust: You’ve got nuclear power, but once you turn it off then now what do we do? Well, we have to turn to dirty fossil fuels.”
Jaczko said the fundamental problems with development of nuclear energy included that the basic design of plants hadn’t changed and that the industry wouldn’t pay for technological improvements that would reduce the damage from accidents.
A case in point involves eliminating the kind of hydrogen gas blasts that many people likely remember seeing in footage from the Fukushima disaster.