United States Nuclear Regulatory Commission - Protecting People and the Environment

Table 8.1 Environmental impacts of constructing 1000-MW(e)-equivalent electric power plants for non-nuclear alternative generating technologies

Table 8.1 Environmental impacts of constructing 1000-MW(e)-equivalent electric power plants for non-nuclear alternative generating technologies
  Resource
Alternative Land use Ecology Aesthetics Water quality Air quality Waste Human health Socioeconomic Cultural
Wind 61,000 ha (150,000 acres) (Pimentel 1994) Loss of thousands of acres of natural habitat (Pimentel 1994); some stream sedimentation; erosion Substantial visual impact in any location (Pimentel 1994; SERI/TP-260-3674) High potential for sedimenta-tion/erosion damage Considerable vehicle exhaust, dust from earth moving Considerable amount of vegetation debris from land clearing Some accident risks for workers (Grubb and Meyer 1993) No known estimates but believed to be relatively small peak work force—little potential for adverse impacts High potential for impacts because of large land area
Photovoltaic cells 14,000 ha (35,000 acres) (Pimentel 1994; Pace 1991) Loss of 14,000 ha (35,000 acres) of natural habitat, some farm land (Pimentel 1994); some stream sedimentation; erosion is a particular threat to arid areas, fragile soil, and plant communities Substantial visual impact in any location (Hamrin and Rader 1993) High potential for sedimenta-tion/erosion damage Considerable vehicle exhaust, dust from earth moving (Pace 1991) Considerable amount of vegetation debris from land clearing Some accident risks for workers No known estimates but believed to be moderate size peak work force—little potential for adverse impacts High potential for impacts because of large land area

Table 8.1 (continued)
  Resource
Alternative Land use Ecology Aesthetics Water quality Air quality Waste Human health Socioeconomic Cultural
Solar thermal 5,700 ha (14,000 acres) (Pimentel 1994; Pace 1991) Loss of 5,700 ha (14,000 acres) (Pimentel 1994); some stream sedimentation; erosion is a particular threat to arid areas, fragile soil, and plant communities (Pace 1991) Substantial visual impact to 5,700 ha (14,000 acres) affected (Pimentel 1994; Pace 1991; Hamrin and Rader 1993) High potential for sedimenta-tion/erosion damage Considerable vehicle exhaust, dust from earth moving (Pace 1991) Considerable amount of vegetation debris from land clearing Some accident risks for workers No known estimates but believed to be moderate size peak work force—little potential for adverse impacts High potential for impacts because of large land area
Hydroelectric 400,000 ha (1 million acres) (Pimentel 1994) Loss of 400,000 ha (1 million acres) of natural habitat, farm land (Pimentel 1994); stream sedimentation, erosion 400,000 ha (1 million acres) visually impacted (Pimentel 1994; Hamrin and Rader 1993) Considerable sedimentation/ erosion Considerable vehicle exhaust, dust from earth moving Considerable amount of vegetation debris from land clearing Some accident risks for workers; spread of diseases from reservoir filling (Moreira and Poole 1993) Large work force, moderate potential for adverse community impacts; dislocation of residents (Hamrin and Rader 1993) Almost unavoidable destruction of cultural sites, artifacts typically located on natural edges of water bodies
Geothermal 2800 ha (7000 acres) (DOE/EP-0093) Loss of 2800 ha (7000 acres) of natural habitat (DOE-0093); some stream sedimentation, erosion Visual impacts to 2800 ha (7000 acres) (DOE-0093) High potential for sedimenta-tion/erosion damage Considerable vehicle exhaust, dust from earth moving Considerable amount of vegetation, some construction debris Some accident risks for workers Moderate size work force; some potential adverse impacts Moderate potential unless important site-specific resource affected by plant or transmission lines

Table 8.1 (continued)
  Resource
Alternative Land use Ecology Aesthetics Water quality Air quality Waste Human health Socioeconomic Cultural
Wood wastes High variable and site specific, perhaps 160,000 to 320,000 ha (400,000 to 800,000 acres) for forest residue recovery. For plant, about 30 acres for each 20-MW facility Considerable potential for loss of natural habitat and biodiversity; increased soil erosion and nutrient loss (ECO North-west et al.) Substantial visual impacts from land clearing. Localized visual impacts with plant construction High potential for sedimenta-tion/erosion damage. Small sedimentation/ erosion damage at plant site (ECO Northwest et al.) Considerable vehicle exhaust and fugitive dust impacts from earth moving Considerable amount of vegetation debris and some con-struction debris Some accident risks for workers Source of income and employment in rural areas. Moderate size work force at plant site High potential for impacts because of large land area
Municipal solid waste (MSW) For plant, about 12 ha (30 acres) for each 20 MW facility Small impact— few acres affected and in urban area. Potentially positive impacts if landfills displaced (ECO North-west et al.) Localized visual impacts with plant construction Small sedimentation/ erosion damage at plant site (ECO Northwest et al.) Considerable vehicle exhaust and fugitive dust impacts from earth moving Moderate amount of vegetation and construction debris Some accident risks for workers Moderate size work force at plant site Relatively small unless important site-specific resource affected by plant or transmission lines

Table 8.1 (continued)
  Resource
Alternative Land use Ecology Aesthetics Water quality Air quality Waste Human health Socioeconomic Cultural
Energy crops About 400,000 ha (1 million) acres for crop production. For plant, about 12 ha (30 acres) for each 20 MW facility Impacts depend on prior land use; if conversion of cropland, then more environ-mentally benign and would improve biodiversity (OTA; Ranney and Mann) Minor visual impacts with energy crop establishment. Localized visual impacts with plant construction Energy crops lower sedimentation, soil erosion, and chemical use relative to agriculture (Ranney and Mann). Small sedimentation and erosion damage at plant site Moderate vehicle exhaust and fugitive dust impacts from earth moving at plant site Considerable amount of vegetation debris and some con-struction debris at plant site Some accident risks for workers Source of income and employment in rural areas. Moderate size work force at plant site Relatively small impacts if cropland and pasture converted to energy crops
Coal 700 ha (1,700 acres) for plant site (DOE/EP- 0093) Loss of 700 ha (1,700 acres) habitat; some erosion, stream sedimentation Localized visual impacts from land clearing Potential sedimentation/ erosion damage Moderate vehicle exhaust, dust from earth moving Considerable construction debris Accident risk for workers 1,200–2,500 peak work force (UDI-021-89) Relatively small unless important site-specific resource affected by plant or transmission lines
Natural gas 45 ha (110 acres) for plant site (DOE/EP-0093) Loss of 45 ha (110 acres) varied habitat; some erosion, stream sedimentation Localized visual impacts from land clearing Potential sedimentation/ erosion damage Some vehicle exhaust, substantial dust from earth moving Considerable construction debris Accident risk for workers 1,200 peak work force (UDI-021-89) Relatively small unless important site-specific resource affected by plant or transmission lines
Oil 50 ha (120 acres) for plant site (DOE/EP-0093) Loss of 50 ha (120 acres) varied habitat; some erosion, stream sedimentation Localized visual impacts from land clearing Potential sedimentation/ erosion damage Some vehicle exhaust, substantial dust from earth moving Considerable construction debris Accident risk for workers 1,700 peak work force (UDI-021-89) Relatively small unless important site-specific resource affected by plant or transmission lines

Table 8.1 (continued)
  Resource
Alternative Land use Ecology Aesthetics Water quality Air quality Waste Human health Socioeconomic Cultural
Advanced light-water reactor 200–400 ha (500–1,000 acres) for plant site plus exclusion area Loss of 200–400 ha (500–1,000 acres) of habitat; some erosion, stream sedimentation Localized visual impacts from land clearing Potential sedimentation/ erosion damage Moderate vehicle exhaust, dust from earth moving Considerable construction debris Accident risk for workers 2,000–5,500 peak work force (UDI-021-89) Relatively small unless important site-specific resource affected by plant or transmission lines
Conservation Unquantified land lost to resource extraction for conservation technologies Adverse impacts from resource extraction Minimal for resource recovery and processing Minimal for resource recovery and processing Minimal for resource recovery and processing Minimal for resource recovery, processing Some risks from resource recovery Minor employment, tax revenues from conservation industry Minimal
Imported power If excess Canadian capacity is insufficient, impacts will be similar to U.S. coal or hydro plants If excess Canadian capacity is insufficient, impacts will be similar to U.S. coal or hydro plants If excess Canadian capacity is insufficient, impacts will be similar to U.S. coal or hydro plants If excess Canadian capacity is insufficient, impacts will be similar to U.S. coal or hydro plants If excess Canadian capacity is insufficient, impacts will be similar to U.S. coal or hydro plants If excess Canadian capacity is insufficient, impacts will be similar to U.S. coal or hydro plants If excess Canadian capacity is insufficient, impacts will be similar to U.S. coal or hydro plants If excess Canadian capacity is insufficient, impacts will be similar to U.S. coal or hydro plants Same impacts as U.S. except northern Canada, where social conflict between tribes and government is substantial
Delayed retirement Very few acres affected (DOE/EIS-0146) Very few acres affected—no impact (DOE/EIS-0146) Minimal changes Incidental use Small exhaust, fugitive dust (DOE/EIS-0146) Moderate construction debris Potential accidents to workers Estimated one-half of normal construction work force Minimal impact
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