The world community is beginning to realize that no source of energy is risk-free and that environmental considerations must be taken into account.
If the electric energy that was generated from nuclear power last year had instead been produced by coal-fired power plants, it would have given rise to additional emissions of CO2 of about 1600 million tons. This figure is not small compared with the 4000 million tons which the Toronto Conference on the Changing Atmosphere recommended as a target for reductions by 2005.
The wastes resulting from the operation of all nuclear power plants last year gave rise to some 7000 tons of spent fuel, a small amount compared to other energy sources. If the electricity had been generated by the combustion of coal, it would have resulted in millions of tons of SO2 and NOX, in addition to the 1600 million tons of CO2, even with the best flue gas cleaning equipment available. Additionally, there would have been some 100,000 tons of poisonous heavy metals, including arsenic, cadmium, chromium, copper, lead, and vanadium. These remain poisonous forever and are not isolated from the biosphere.
As reported by the IAEA International Atomic Energy Agency Factsheet Publications