Ranger Uranium Mine, Australia
I still treasure my rotting newsprint copy of the Last Whole Earth Catalog, created by Stewart Brand. The New York Times loves Stewart as well, and did a big article on him, concentrating on his support for nuclear power as a CO2 free way of generating power. However we suspect some serious carbon was released digging that hole in Australia and the ones like it in Canada. According to the Pembina Institute, here is the environmental cost for nuclear power in Canada alone:
Uranium mining and milling:
-575,000 tonnes of tailings per year
-18 million tonnes of waste rock full of radionuclides and heavy metals per year
1,000 tonnes of solid waste and 9,000 cubic metres of liquid waste
Power Plant operation:
85,000 waste fuel bundles per year and 6,000 tonnes of low level radioactive waste in Ontario alone.
Discharges to surface waters from uranium mines and mills in Canada in 2003 included over 1,500 kg of uranium, 860 kg of molybdenum, 70 kg of arsenic, 185 kg of nickel, 40 kg of selenium, and 10 tonnes of ammonia.
Routine and accidental releases of radiation and radionuclides occur from power plant operations, including tritium oxide, carbon-14, noble gases, iodine-131, radioactive particulate and elemental tritium.
Total greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions associated with uranium mining, milling, refining, conversion and fuel fabrication in Canada are estimated at between 240,000 and 366,000 tonnes of CO2 per year. Total emissions associated with the sector, including the emissions associated with power plant construction, are in the range of 468,000 and 594,000 tonnes of CO2 per year, equivalent to the emissions of between 134,000 and 170,000 cars per year.