The nuclear power industry has latched on to global warming as an argument for its renaissance. Although even industry proponents acknowledge that the problem of disposing of spent nuclear fuel remains unsolved, the industry routinely assumes this problem will be solved in the future. Unfortunately, this is the same assumption made by nuclear energy proponents at the beginning of the nuclear industry fifty years ago. We haven’t solved the nuclear waste problem in the past half century, and there is no reason to think we will be more likely to do so in the next one. Like the shipwrecked economist in the old joke, the nuclear industry continues to postulate that we should “assume we have a can opener” for the nuclear waste problem.
Karl S. Coplan, The Externalities of Nuclear Power: First, Assume We Have a Can Opener . . ., 35 Ecology L. Currents 17 (2008), http://digitalcommons.pace.edu/lawfaculty/489/.