carbon, carbon free, climate change, CO2, cooling of radioactive waste, high grade ore, low carbon, low grade ore, mining, nuclear fuel chain, radioactive carbon, uranium enrichment, uranium processing, waste rock
As explained by Oak Ridge National (Nuclear) Lab, nuclear power stations produce carbon, it’s radioactive carbon. They are also responsible for non-radioactive CO2 because of the energy requirements for uranium mining, nuclear fuel production, cooling of nuclear waste, and related transport:
CARBON-14 PRODUCTION IN NUCLEAR REACTORS, By Wallace Davis, Jr. Oak Ridge National Lab., TN https://www.osti.gov/servlets/purl/7114972 “The radioactive nuclide 14 C is, and will be, formed in all nuclear reactors due to absorption of neutrons by carbon, nitrogen, or oxygen.
These may be present as components of the fuel, moderator, or structural hardware, or they may be present as impurities. Most of the 14 C formed in the fuels or in the graphite of HTGRs will be converted to a gaseous form at the fuel reprocessing plant, primarily as carbon dioxide; this will be released to the environment unless special equipment is installed to collect it and convert it to a solid for essentially permanent storage.
If the 14 C is released as carbon dioxide or in any other chemical form, it will enter the biosphere, be inhaled or ingested as food by nearly all living organisms including man, and will thus contribute to the radiation burden of these organisms. Carbon-14 is formed naturally by reaction of neutrons of cosmic ray origin in the upper atmosphere with nitrogen and, to a lesser extent, with oxygen and carbon.
Large amounts of 14 C have also been formed in the atmosphere as a result of nuclear weapons explosions. For the last two decades, the quantities of 14 C in the environment, and the mechanisms of transfer of this nuclide between the atmosphere, land biota, and the shallow and deep seas have been the subject of many research studies.
These studies have shown that most of the 14 C is actually contained in the deep oceans, at depths greater than 100 m. The nuclear weapons tests increased the total 14 C inventory of the earth by only a few percent, but the atmospheric content was approximately doubled. Since atmospheric weapons tests are no longer being conducted, the atmospheric concentration of 14 C is now decreasing as it enters the oceans as CO2 and is approaching the pretest value.
Some estimates of the amounts of 14 C released from or formed in LWRs, HTGR, and L M F B R have been made previously on the basis of calculations or measurements. The purpose of this report is to present detailed estimates of the production of 14 C with emphasis on those pathways that are likely to lead to the release of this nuclide, either at the reactor site or at the fuel reprocessing plant. “https://www.osti.gov/servlets/purl/7114972
Does this big yellow truck run off of pixie dust or solar? No it does not.
Furthermore, Roessing Uranium Mine in Namibia has an ore grade of 0.026% U. http://www.wise-uranium.org/uona.html This means that 99.94% is (radioactive) waste rock tailings. “Recent reports that Rössing’s uranium might be diverted to Iran, which owns 15% of the shares in the mine, have been denied by the mine’s management.” https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rössing_Uranium_Mine
Even the exceptionally high grade Canadian deposits are about 18% grade meaning that 82% is (radioactive) waste rock. And, for every kilogram of uranium enriched, 7 to 10 kg of (still radioactive) depleted uranium is produced.
Foreign sourcing of uranium and foreign enrichment helps perpetuate the lie that nuclear energy is carbon emission free or low carbon emission. How does anyone think that the uranium gets out of the mine? Pixie dust? Solar powered trucks? Clearly not. Huge diesel trucks, and surely not bio-diesel. Even if they did run off of bio-diesel, this bio-diesel could be used elsewhere to eliminate use of petroleum. Processing and enrichment also use energy, as does cooling of the waste for years. Radionuclides cause radiolysis which can create greenhouse gases, as well. Even US mines are almost entirely foreign owned: https://miningawareness.wordpress.com/2019/04/07/uranium-sellers-to-owners-operators-of-us-civilian-nuclear-power-reactors-mostly-foreign-including-foreign-governments
Fellside Gas Generating Station dedicated to the cooling and “processing” of nuclear waste at Sellafield:
The nuclear fuel cycle is a multi-step process. Beginning with exploration and mining of uranium, it is then processed into uranium concentrate (U3O8, often called yellowcake). This concentrate is then converted into natural uranium hexafluoride (UF6) gas, enriched, fabricated into nuclear fuel, and sent to reactors. These steps often take place at different facilities.
Owners and operators of commercial nuclear power reactors buy uranium in the form of uranium concentrate, uranium hexafluoride, and/or enriched uranium. If uranium is purchased after the enrichment process, the only step remaining is the fabrication into nuclear fuel. Historically, U.S. owners and operators have purchased most of their uranium from foreign countries. In 2012, 84% of foreign-supplied uranium came from Canada, Russia, Australia, Kazakhstan, and Namibia. The rest came from Uzbekistan, Niger, South Africa, Brazil, China, Malawi, and Ukraine.
Uranium purchased earlier in the nuclear fuel cycle, such as the purchase of uranium concentrate, must be converted to natural uranium hexafluoride and enriched before reactor fuel can be fabricated. The owners and operators of U.S. commercial nuclear power reactors pay for conversion, enrichment, and fabrication. During 2012, a total of 52 million pounds of uranium hexafluoride (UF6) was delivered to enrichers in China, France, Germany, Netherlands, Russia, United Kingdom, and the United States. Enrichers in the United States received 62% of the deliveries, and the remaining 38% went to foreign enrichers.
The capacity of enrichment plants is measured in terms of separative work units (SWU). SWU is a measure of how much work it takes to enrich uranium. In 2012, the average price per SWU was $141.36, and owners and operators of U.S. commercial nuclear power reactors purchased enrichment services totaling 16 million SWU. This represents a total cost to the owners and operators of U.S. commercial nuclear power reactors of about $2.3 billion.” http://www.eia.gov/todayinenergy/detail.cfm?id=12731 Note that the centrifuge process uses less energy than the gas diffusion process.