World Nuclear Association calls for all-hazards approach to nuclear power

Press release issued 27 May 2021

World Nuclear Association has today published a new White Paper – Recalibrating Risk: Putting nuclear risk in context and perspective - calling upon policymakers and regulators to adopt a science-based, all-hazards risk assessment and management system that holistically evaluates the contributions of different energy sources and sets a level playing field.

Speaking at the launch of the White Paper, Dr Sama Bilbao y León, Director General, World Nuclear Association, said,

Nuclear technologies can contribute enormously towards tackling two of the biggest challenges facing the world today – the decarbonisation of the global economy and fulfilling the Sustainable Development Goals for everyone – but are being held back because of the many misconceptions about nuclear energy.

"Indeed, as recently highlighted by the International Energy Agency in its Net Zero report, 'nuclear energy is a crucial component in ensuring the deep decarbonisation needed to meet the 1.5oC target.' To fully unlock the potential of nuclear power, a global paradigm shift is needed - one that is led by scientific evidence and evaluates the risks associated to all economic activities holistically without overemphasizing one kind of risk over another."

The White Paper finds that disproportionately focusing on the risks posed by radiation may result in the acceptance of other, more significant, risks. For example, the continued massive use of fossil fuels worldwide has caused millions of premature deaths from air pollution and untold environmental damage, and is the main cause of the considerable risks posed by global climate change. In contrast, nuclear power is routinely ostracized and its substantial, readily available contributions to global decarbonization are disregarded, which is an opportunity lost to advance towards Paris Agreement goals.

World Nuclear Association therefore calls upon policymakers and regulators to adopt an all-hazards approach, where different risks associated with energy producing technologies are placed in perspective and the appropriate context, and examined in line with the latest scientific evidence. Policymakers and regulators must ensure that their decisions regarding radiation protection do not create greater risks elsewhere. This includes the recalibration of existing regulations regarding nuclear power and radiation, weighing the cost of regulatory measures against the societal benefits provided by nuclear energy.