Here are some comments from a post on The Energy Blog that highlight several of the major problems with relying on nuclear energy as an alternative to fossil fuels.
1) Disposal of the hot fuel rods (95% U-238, <0.5% U-235, and the rest being plutonium (1%), americium, and a wide variety of fission products – the strontium, caesium, and iodine isotopes being the most dangerous). A main issue here is proliferation of plutonium-based nuclear weapons.
2) Potential for catastrophic failures exist – cooling systems and neutron-absorbing safety systems can both fail, resulting in Chernobyl-like events. In today’s world, we should also include susceptibility to bombings, etc.
3) Cooling water is a big issue! A 1 GW nuclear reactor sucks up massive amounts of cold water to cool the reactor and to generate steam for the power turbines. During heat waves and droughts, many reactors have to be shut down due to lack of cooling water. The American Southwest, or Sub-Saharan Africa, are thus poor sites for nuclear (but excellent for solar thermal and PV!).
The fact is that solar, wind and biogas-powered electricity grids are entirely possible. Put it this way: if we did not have access to uranium or fossil fuels, would we all be reduced to pre-industrial civilization?
…we can’t have an aggressive expansion of Nuclear energy is because of the overhead costs associated with proliferation…especially when you consider state sponsored terrorism where the operators are complicit.
Certainly it could be done, however it’d be rather irresponsible to act like that cost doesn’t/won’t/shouldn’t exist.
Just like new Coal Plants, Nuclear power plants CANNOT get financing, no matter how hard they try, unless it comes from TaxPayers.