Green and ecological uranium does not exist

Miscalculation in the EU-taxonomy

Berlin, 03-20-2023 | The environmentally detrimental effects of uranium mining were not taken into consideration, when nuclear power was integrated into the EU-taxonomy as green technology. The political controversy about nuclear power concerned mainly the emissions of greenhouse gases. The severe and long-lasting impairments of humans and environment caused by uranium mining and processing is now addressed in a paper written by members of the Scientists for Future (S4F). 

Conventional mining has been detrimental to environment and society since long. However,  uranium mining comes along with the extraction of radioactive hazardous substances. Conventional mining impacts add up with specific risks and future liabilities comming from these hazardous substances. Refining and processing is also risky and impairs the environment and humans.  Additionally the economic long-term legacies resulting from the eternal burdens of post-closure care of uranium mining plants were not taken into account in the EU-taxonomy. 

Electrical power produced from nuclear energy is the most expensive method of electricity supply. But not only that kind of generation of electricity, also the extraction of the commodity and primary energy carrier uranium does not pay off and is not financially feasible without public subsidies. In addition the costs resulting from shut down and remediation of uranium mining legacies present in the 14 largest uranium producing countries must be taken into account. These expenditures were estimated in 1993 at 3.7 trillion USD. „Exclusively in the USA the costs for shut down and remediation of all uranium mines were calculated in 2007 to be 2.3 trillion USD“, explained S4F-scientist Hubert Engelbrecht, lead author of this study. „If the maximum market value achieved for yellowcake is taken as a basis, then the costs just mentioned are more than one order of magnitude higher than the hypothetical profit from the sale of all yellowcake produced worldwide between 1949 and 2019.” However, this calculation does not contain the so called eternal financial burdens, which come along with the final disposal of radioactive waste. 

The fact that nations afford nuclear power is also concerned with the military use of nuclear power; uranium does not pay off economically. 

Beside this economic aspect of uranium mining, its material balance is also hazardous: „An estimate of the order of magnitude of the amount of residues produced in uranium mining areas since the beginning of the nuclear age shows: Between 1942 and 2018 the volumes of overburden and mud ponds aggregated to 2.12 billion m³. With this amount, an area of 310 km² (corresponding to the city of Berlin) could be covered with a 2.4 m thick layer of sludge.” And: This layer is radioacitve for million of years and contains toxic heavy metals.

Herewith it must be feared that due to the enormous sustainability risks of uranium mining the listing of nuclear power into the EU-taxonomy will turn out to be a wrong decision with respect to environmental, energy and developmental political perspectives.

The complete study is available as follows:

The German version of the study can be found here:

Engelbrecht, Hubert; Priester, Michael; Rechlin, Aissa (2023): „Sustainability of uranium extraction – a discussion“, 
Key Point-Paper of the „Scientists for Future“, Berlin

Dr. Hubert Engelbrecht, DGGV, Tel.: 0049/89-1234343. e-Mail: