Tim Flinn (Courier letters, December 24) demonises nuclear waste. He romanticises his past as an economist in the days when economists believed their discipline was a science. To compare the storage cost for nuclear waste with the number of atoms in the solar system is melodramatic but doesn’t really help the debate.

The cost of looking after nuclear waste is a very small fraction of the cost of nuclear electricity.

In the UK, it is paid for in advance through the Nuclear Liabilities Fund, a ring-fenced account invested for dealing with future storage.

This cost falls on our electricity bills, of course. The cost is a very small proportion of the cost of nuclear electricity.

This is because the amounts are tiny compared with the waste we produce from our other uses of technology. The nuclear waste volumes are very small indeed because the energy density of nuclear fuel is thousands of times greater than any other source of energy.

Tim could visit long-term nuclear waste stores at Soderviken in Sweden and Onkalo in Finland, where their governments plan ahead sensibly.

The current invested total cost of final disposal of used fuel from Finland’s four reactors is roughly €2.5 billion (with interest, about €50 per year per household). Sadly, in the UK we take a lot longer to make these important decisions.

This waste certainly needs keeping away from people for a long time, in the same way as many other toxic waste products from modern society (many of them under your kitchen sink).

We are very fortunate to have nuclear fuel’s near-zero carbon emissions, without which we shall certainly fail to save ourselves from global warming.

At midday on Christmas Day, wind and solar were producing 27 per cent of our UK electricity; 41 per cent was still coming from fossil fuels. Wind and solar power can never plug this shortfall of affordable low-carbon electricity alone. Sweden and Finland recognise this and plan accordingly. We should follow them.

Also, remember how useful nuclear medicine is for diagnosis and treatment of many conditions, and it needs radioactive isotopes produced in reactors.

Radioactivity should be respected, not feared. Unlike a virus, it is easy to detect and straightforward to deal with. As with fire and other hazards, we must teach our children about radioactivity in a balanced way.

Keith Burns

East Linton