The European Union Research Group (JRC) has just issued a detailed report on the possible impact of nuclear energy on humans and the environment. The report comes at a time when Europe is engaging in a complex taxonomy assessment. This taxonomy will classify which economic activities in the European Union (EU) can be considered as sustainable, depending on whether they meet strict environmental standards.
When nuclear power was put on the agenda last year, EU experts disagreed on whether nuclear power deserved to be considered as environmentally friendly: on the one hand, they recognized that nuclear power emits little CO2 (low CO2 emissions nuclear power can help curb climate change), but on the other hand, the EU has called for more research on nuclear waste and on the possible negative impact of this waste on humans and the environment. To ascertain EU’s position, the comprehensive study on the negative impact of nuclear energy on the climate and the environment was then initiated through the JRC and a 387 pages report issued.
You can find it here.
Conclusions of the JRC report
The report conclusions are as follow:
- There is no scientific evidence that nuclear energy is more harmful to health or the environment than other energy sources already included in the taxonomy as “technologies contributing to the fight against climate change”, including renewable energies.
- Compared to the other options (oil, gas and renewable energies), the impact of nuclear energy (in terms of non-radiological effects) is as positive as that of hydropower and renewable energies.
- Disposal of nuclear waste in deep geological formations is the most efficient and safest solution among the options currently available. Geological burial is the best option to avoid possible damage to people and the environment.
- Nuclear accidents cannot be ruled out with 100% certainty. But the risk of an accident is very low. Compared to other energy sources, the latest generation (3rd generation) nuclear power plants are the safest option (lowest fatality rate of all available power generation technologies).
Overall, this report concludes that nuclear energy is no more damaging to humans and the environment than other energy sources currently recognised as sustainable by the EU. Now, if EU leaders recognise the result of this research, nuclear energy could then be classified as sustainable, just like renewable energies. They would therefore both be part of the solution to fight against climate change.