Experts tasked with assessing whether the European Union should label nuclear power as a green investment will say that the fuel qualifies as sustainable, according to a leaked document.
The European Commission is attempting to finish its sustainable finance taxonomy, which will decide which economic activities can be labelled as a sustainable investment in the EU, based on whether they meet strict environmental criteria, according to Euractiv and Reuters.
EU expert advisors last year split over whether nuclear power deserved a green label, recognising that while it produces very low planet-warming CO2 emissions, more analysis was needed on the environmental impact of radioactive waste disposal.
The Commission asked the Joint Research Centre (JRC), its scientific expert arm, to report on the issue.
A draft of the JRC report, seen by EURACTIV and other media outlets and due to be published this week, said nuclear deserves a green label.
“The analyses did not reveal any science-based evidence that nuclear energy does more harm to human health or the environment than other electricity production technologies,” the report said.
Storage of nuclear waste in deep geologic formations is deemed “appropriate and safe,” it added, although it admitted that “no long-term operational experience is presently available as technologies and solutions are still in demonstration and testing phase”.
However, the report cited countries including France, Sweden and Finland which are “in an advanced stage of implementation of their national deep geological disposal facilities,” saying those are “expected to start operation within the present decade.”
“For high-level radioactive waste and spent fuel, there is a broad consensus amongst the scientific, technological and regulatory communities that final disposal in deep geological repositories is the most effective and safest feasible solution which can ensure that no significant harm is caused to human life and the environment for the required timespan,” the report says.
And although severe nuclear accidents “cannot be ruled out with 100% certainty,” they are “events with extremely low probability,” the report added, pointing out that only third-generation reactors are now being commissioned worldwide in the last 15 years after the Chernobyl disaster.
“The fatality rates characterising state-of-the-art [third generation nuclear power plants]are the lowest of all the electricity generation technologies,” the report concludes.