‘Green’ nuclear power or greenwashing?

Sir, – The current heave by the nuclear lobby and certain member states to have nuclear power approved as somehow environmentally positive by the EU is an audacious piece of greenwashing. In terms of moving toward a new energy economy, nuclear power cannot be viewed as transitional given that the timescale from construction to storing of waste stretches to thousands of years.

Recent letter writers to your columns have sidestepped this issue, as well as avoiding mention of disasters such as Fukushima (still ongoing) and others.

Much is made of the fact that radioactive fuel is not a fossil fuel whereas large-scale use of fossil-based energy is needed for nuclear generator construction. In addition to nuclear and fossil pollution in this industry, there is the dirty issue of mining uranium in some of the poorest and most unstable countries in the world.

There are question marks over two new nuclear reactor prototypes being promoted in present European plans. The French EPR reactors (only two and still in construction) have been bedevilled by endless cracks and soldering problems. The EPR in Finland is now 12 years beyond its deadline and costs have risen from €3 billion to an estimated €12 billion. Small modular reactors (the other prong of the French strategy being lobbied for in Europe) are in their early days and their cost and operational quality are as yet uncertain.


Wind power is often criticised as being unreliable and requiring backup.

So is nuclear power.

At the time of writing, the four largest reactors in France (among others) are out of service and coal-fired stations are likely to be used so as to avoid winter power cuts.

Across Europe, older generators are being closed down, reducing availability. Reliable? – Yours, etc,



Co Bhaile Átha Cliath.