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Coal is cool

  • 22 October 1994
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  • RICHARD COURTNEY BRITISH ASSOCIATION OF COLLIERY MANAGEMENT, GLOUCESTERSHIRE
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F.G. Grisley asks if it is true that coal-fired power stations emit five times more radioactivity than is allowed from nuclear power stations (Letters, 24 September). The answer is no.

Correctly operating nuclear power stations emit little radioactivity. But when they reach the end of their lives their radioactive cores remain. These radioactive remains must be released to the environment. Their disposal requires a choice of how best to emit it to the environment. Indeed, Nuclear Electric propose leaving their dead power stations encased in concrete for centuries: immense heaps of ugly nuclear waste.

The radioactive remains of a used nuclear power station is orders of magnitude more than the natural radioactivity in all the coal used during the life of any coal-fired power station.

The nuclear power industry spread many lies during the 1960s and 1970s. F. G. Grisley's question relates to one of these lies. Fortunately, the nuclear power industry tends to be more honest today.

From issue 1948 of New Scientist magazine, 22 October 1994, page 54
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