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The Ecologist November 1979: Nuclear power is still dependent on cheap fossil fuels

Peter Bunyard

November, 1979

Thirty years ago Peter Bunyard wrote 'A Question of Oil', looking at the the nuclear industry in 1979. His comments still hold true today...

Today the focus of the nuclear energy debate is centered squarely around CO2 emissions, but Ecologist science editor Peter Bunyard’s comments in 1979, on the nuclear industry’s reliance on fossil fuels and long term energy security, still hold true:

'… all the multitude of processes involved in the fuel cycle [require] the backing of fossil fuel energy. Indeed in the United States, where strip-mined coal is comparatively cheap, the enrichment of uranium is carried out using electricity generated from coal-fired power plants. The enrichment plant in Ohio, for example, consumes ten per cent of that state's electricity - more than the entire city of Cleveland.

'So much for nuclear powered electricity being clean, and so much for it being an independent source of energy… Nuclear power is more dependent on oil than coal is and when oil goes up to 30 dollars a barrel or more, you can bet your bottom dollar nuclear power will go up to a correspondingly higher rate....'

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