The global nuclear legacy and its implication on the sustainability of nuclear power

Novikov V & Parker F (2003). The global nuclear legacy and its implication on the sustainability of nuclear power. In: 2nd International Congress on Advances in Nuclear Power Plants, ICAPP 2003, 4th-7th May 2003, Cordoba; Spain.

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Abstract

Many studies aimed at evaluation of sustainability of energy development in the 21st century showed that nuclear option might be among the identified sustainable energy options. Nevertheless, attempts to create an international political consensus on the nuclear power's role in sustainable development failed. The question arises: What is behind these controversies? Why do technical views and public perception, that greatly influences the political debate, so diverge? The evaluation of the Global Nuclear Legacy that was performed within the IIASA "Radiation Safety of the Biosphere" (RAD) project definitely shows that the Global Nuclear Legacy has emerged as one of the most important environmental, social, and political problems today. The largest fraction of the radioactive waste is currently being stored at the sites where it was generated, in facilities that were not built for long-term storage. Recent terrorist attacks highlight the risk posed by radioactive waste and spent nuclear fuel storage sites that may be targets or used for dirty bombs. Additional threats of environmental degradation are associated with decommissioning of aged nuclear facilities and with carrying out nuclear disarmament at the places where the lack of sufficient infrastructure made it extremely difficult. Thus, the actual and potential implications of the Global Nuclear Legacy will put a huge burden on the future generations and therefore contradict the definition of sustainability given in the Brundtland Report. It seems that the nuclear legacy of the 20th century will stigmatize attempts in the 21st century to utilize advanced techniques if they are characterized as "nuclear". We call this phenomenon "the Stigma of the Global Nuclear Legacy", meaning the inevitable association (conscious or unconscious) of the global nuclear legacy left by intensive development of the nuclear industry, civilian and military, during the second half of the 20th century with nuclear power in general. Is it possible to neutralize the stigma of the Global Nuclear Legacy, and thus enhance the likelihood of success of the nuclear energy option? The paper reviews some outcomes of the IIASA RAD project studies of the Global Nuclear Legacy and discusses the lessons learnt that could help hopefully to answer the above question. As a contribution to this need, the IIASA RAD-project formulated a concept of a five-step study aimed at a better understanding of how to neutralize the nuclear stigma and enhance the future of the nuclear option.

Item Type: Conference or Workshop Item (Paper)
Depositing User: Luke Kirwan
Date Deposited: 29 Jul 2016 11:18
Last Modified: 29 Jul 2016 11:18
URI: http://pure.iiasa.ac.at/13487

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