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IAEA and IEA position nuclear power for 'comeback' role in the fight against climate change

The U.N. climate summit in Sharm el-Sheikh, Egypt gives industry and agency leaders an opportunity to champion nuclear power's possibilities.

The U.N. nuclear watchdog's public booth at the COP27 talks in Sharm el-Sheikh, Egypt
The U.N. nuclear watchdog's public booth at the COP27 talks in Sharm el-Sheikh, Egypt (AN/IAEA)

The prospect of using more nuclear power as a clean energy source is having a moment at COP27 as leaders, experts and others tout climate technology solutions.

For decades, the debate over the safety and environmental concerns about nuclear reactors – and the risk that the spread of nuclear technology can lead to more nuclear weapons – clouded the industry's efforts to promote its use more widely.

Japan's Fukushima nuclear disaster added to worries about the dangers that reactors pose to communities and the longterm radioactive waste they generate.

The meltdown in 2011 occurred after a 9.0 magnitude earthquake and subsequent tsunami caused a total power failure and the nuclear plant’s cooling systems shut down, leaking radioactive material. An estimated 18,500 were killed or went missing after the earthquake and tsunami; another 160,000 were displaced.

The world's worst nuclear accident – the 1986 explosion of the reactor at the Chernobyl plant in what was then the Soviet Union – killed 30 workers in the blast or due to acute radiation sickness. The World Health Organization estimated at least 9,000 more people could die of cancer and leukemia in contaminated areas.

But the U.N. climate summit in Sharm el-Sheikh, Egypt gives industry and agency leaders an opportunity to champion nuclear power's possibilities. Some banana-dressed promoters handed out samples of the fruit explaining the potassium in a single banana exceeds the radiation dose from a year spent living next to a reactor.

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