Statement of the National Action Committee against Nuclear Power following statements by Minister of State Luc Frieden

Too dangerous, too expensive and too slow to be available – nuclear power is no solution!

The Luxembourg government must continue to campaign vehemently against nuclear power on a national and European level!

In Europe and beyond, due to the climate crisis, the nuclear lobby is once again trying to promote nuclear power as an important part of a sustainable energy mix. Some pro-nuclear states in the EU, notably France, also want nuclear energy to be supported by EU funds.

The arguments put forward on the political stage, in the press and on social media are as follows Nuclear power is safe, cheap, climate-friendly and indispensable for a rapid decarbonisation of energy supply. Nuclear power would also make Europe less dependent on gas imports.

However, the actual practice of civilian use of nuclear power over the past decades shows that such a path is fraught with significant problems and risks, and cannot achieve the intended goal now or in the future. As with the climate crisis, the risks and costs associated with both the production of nuclear energy and the processing and final disposal of nuclear waste are being passed on to future generations.

Too dangerous: Catastrophic accidents with large releases of radioactive pollutants are possible at nuclear power plants at any time. This is demonstrated not only by so-called super-GAUs, such as the Chernobyl and Fukushima disasters, but also by a large number of smaller breakdowns and accidents. The costs of the Fukushima disaster continue to rise and are now estimated at between $223 billion and $758 billion, depending on the study! There is also a permanent risk that weapons-grade fissile material (highly enriched uranium or plutonium) will be misused for terrorist purposes and for illegal nuclear bomb programs in some countries.

In addition, the long-lived, highly radioactive waste from the reactors – whether large or small quantities – must be safely disposed of for a million years (!). Mission impossible!

Too expensive: Despite immense financial support from public funds in the past, the commercial use of nuclear energy has never made the leap to becoming a competitive energy source. Even the ongoing operation of existing nuclear power plants is becoming increasingly uneconomical. In addition, there are substantial and currently largely unknown costs for the dismantling of nuclear power plants and the aforementioned “forever” disposal of radioactive waste that must be borne by the public. The cost of new nuclear power plants has risen steadily since the 1960s, and economic viability has not been achieved despite “nuclear friendly” legislation, government subsidies and guarantees.

Energy industry analyses show that not only can ambitious climate protection goals (global warming of 1.5°C to below 2°C) be achieved without nuclear power, but that renewable energies are even more cost-effective and more citizen-friendly.

Too slow: Given the stagnating or declining construction of nuclear reactors (except in China), a planning and construction period of two decades (and more), cost explosions of up to x4 and x5 (EPR in Flamanville and in Finland), and foreseeable little technical innovation in the next 15 years, nuclear power cannot play a role in the period relevant to combating the climate crisis. Nuclear power meets only 10% of the world’s electricity needs and only 4% of its primary energy needs.

The number of reactors would therefore have to be multiplied from the 420 or so currently in operation to several thousand, including costs, risks and uranium supply. In reality, however, the 53 ongoing construction projects worldwide will be offset by about 200 shutdowns by 2030.

The currently hyped SMR (“Small Modular Reactors”) and “4th / 5th generation” nuclear power plant concepts are still technically immature and far from commercial use. For a comprehensive study [1], researchers commissioned by the German Federal Office for the Safety of Nuclear Waste Management recently examined various reactor types under development. The clear conclusion: the well-known problems (too expensive, too much nuclear waste, too vulnerable to the climate crisis…) will probably not be solved by the new reactor types either. Therefore, the argument to invest in further research “open to all technologies” is just a very expensive dead end.

Too short-sighted: Nuclear power plants require enormous amounts of cooling water to operate. That is why nuclear power plants are always located near rivers or coasts. If the temperature of the water rises during prolonged heat waves, this becomes a problem – because the water is simply too warm for cooling. Another problem during heat waves is the reduced flow of rivers. In France, for example, nuclear power plants have had to be shut down several times because the nearby river no longer carried enough water. So nuclear power plants are not immune to the climate crisis.

Too unwieldy: The biggest challenge in the necessary restructuring of our energy supply is overcoming the lock-in of the old system dominated by fossil fuel power plants. Nuclear energy is not suited to support this transformation process, but rather blocks it: by blocking innovation and investment. Moreover, nuclear phase-out is also a necessary condition for a successful search for a repository.

Conclusion: Nuclear power cannot make a meaningful contribution to the development of a climate-friendly energy supply in the face of the climate crisis and the ever-shrinking window of opportunity. Nuclear power is too dangerous, too expensive, and too slow to become available; it also blocks the necessary socio-ecological transformation process without which ambitious climate protection goals cannot be achieved. The argument that expanding nuclear power would make Europe more energy independent does not stand up to closer analysis either, since the raw materials needed for this also come from politically unstable and undemocratic regions and states such as Niger or Kazakhstan.

For all these reasons, nuclear power cannot be a solution to the energy and climate crisis. We therefore appeal to the Luxembourg government not to recklessly jeopardize the national consensus against nuclear power of the past decades, but to continue to oppose nuclear power plants in neighboring border regions AND the promotion of nuclear power with the help of European public funds – in the tradition of past governments of all party-political persuasions.

Communicated by the “National Action Committee against Nuclear Power”,
March 26, 2024


[1] in German: