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Public acceptance a major challenge to nuclear power

16 February 2017


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Nuclear power is cited as a tool to reducing greenhouse gas emissions from the production of electricity, but public acceptance remains a major challenge, the World Government Summit heard.

Nuclear power is cited as a tool to reducing greenhouse gas emissions from the production of electricity, but public acceptance remains a major challenge, the World Government Summit heard.

Introducing a session on the future of nuclear energy, Hamad Al Kaabi, permanent representative of the UAE to the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) said 60 nuclear reactors are under construction globally, four in the UAE. However, the incident in Fukushima, Japan, in 2011 had caused anxiety and raised fundamental questions about the future of nuclear power.

Yukiya Amano, director of the IAEA, recommended a ‘cradle to grave’ approach, advising countries considering developing nuclear power: “From day one, when you start the use of nuclear technology, you have to consider how to deal with nuclear waste.”

Philippe Jamet, former commissioner to the French Nuclear Safety Authority, said countries also need to consider the scale of investment that they must make: “If a country goes for nuclear, they have to go for emergency preparedness, as nobody can say a nuclear accident will never happen, you will need civil security, firemen, hospitals and people who are responsible for agriculture and food and so on,” he said, warning that there was no warning prior to any of the three major nuclear accidents of the past 40 years. “The day before, everyone believed that nuclear safety was achieved,” he said.

While Amano agreed that safety was of the highest importance, he told the audience that the belief that it was not possible to dispose of high-level nuclear waste was wrong, giving an example of a deep geological repository in Onkalo, Finland, with similar projects currently in development in Sweden and France.