Modern uranium mining is safe. The chemical toxicity of uranium oxide in ores is negligible, it's much less than toxicity of other heavy metals like arsenic in the same ore. The main danger is radon contamination, but it's not an issue in open pit mining.but that apart, you are not fair with this statement either: uranium is not lying exactly around on the street either; it is mined, and unlike coal, it is highly toxic not only due to its radioactive isotopes (and their decay products like radon) but also chemically.
Yes, and have you asked yourself why is it so? It's quite simple, the amount of high-level waste that can't be reprocessed is minuscule. It can fit into a a tennis court sized building about 10 meters high. So for now it's just politically easy to leave it lying around.Also, if you want to assess the risks associated with nuclear power, you must not only take into account the risk coming from the reactors themselves, but also the disposal of the radioactive waste. If you search for it, you will find that, while nuclear power is being steadily ramped up, there is still no permanent storage anywhere in the countries actually using it!
In future, it should be stored in geologically stable repositories, like Yucca mountain. Or maybe buried in the ocean floor in subduction zones where it'll be pulled into the Earth's mantle eventually.
Sorry to interrupt you, but the problem right now is to replace fossil fuels and then nuclear.As the usage of renewable energies for large-scale power production is a comparatively young field, their small contribution to the worldwide energy consumption is a trivial fact on which no arguments about their potential to replace nuclear (and also fossil fuel on the long run) can be made.
If you haven't noticed, we're at the peak oil. Peak natural gas is probably 4-5 years in future. Then you'll have rely only on coal (which is abundant) for fossil fuels.I am very confident that investing enough money into R&D, the construction of new facilities and into the necessary changes to the power grid (decentralization, power storage, etc.) would make the replacement feasible over the next few decades.
Fusion is nice, and more money should be spent on it. But it's getting nowhere fast, mostly because nuclear power is a zombie field.Plus, there is also nuclear fusion which, with enough research funding, might also evolve into a powerful alternative to fission. And don't tell me there is no money for that, there is money for all kind of crap, and satisfying our power needs (and that of the developing countries) will arguable be one of the prime challenges of the future.
Replacing it with what exactly?Of course instantly switching off all nuclear power plants is simply impossible, but that is not the point: major efforts should be directed at replacing it gradually starting _now_, and this is not what has been happening over the last years.