Sunday, March 27, 2011

Nuclear power stations

From New Scientist:

In 1975, about 30 dams in central China failed in short succession due to severe flooding, an estimated 230,000 people died. Include the toll from this single event, and fatalities from hydropower far exceed the number of deaths from all other energy sources. In contrast, the International Atomic Energy Agency and the UN estimate that the death toll from cancer following the 1986 meltdown at Chernobyl will reach around 9000. In fact, the numbers show that catastrophic events are not the leading cause of deaths associated with nuclear power. More than half of all deaths stem from uranium mining, says the IEA. But even when this is included, the overall toll remains significantly lower than for all other fuel sources.

“There is no question,” says Joseph Romm, an energy expert at the Center for American Progress in Washington DC. “Nothing is worse than fossil fuels for killing people.” Fine particles from coal power plants kill an estimated 13,200 people each year in the US alone, according to the Boston-based Clean Air Task Force. From coal we have a steady progression of deaths year after year that are invisible to us, things like heart attacks, whereas a large-scale nuclear release is a catastrophic event that we are scared about.


Wayne said...


While progress has been made on the design and safety for nuclear reactors, people should keep in mind that the reactors at present represent only one half of a technology. The disposal and decommissioning of the spent rods and the aging plants has not been satisfactorily solved.

An example of this can be seen with the company Nuclear Fuels Services which was hailed by the NY State Govt. as going to be the "Detroit" of the nuclear age because it would take spent fuel and reprocess it.

Jobs for a poor rural area, massive subsidies and tax breaks not to mention govt. (taxpayer) insurance went into this business. Today it is a radioactive swamp leaking radiation into Lake Erie. What happened to Nuclear Fuels Services? Gone, dissolved and the NY taxpayer has been eating the costs, both environmentally and economically since the early 1970s.

Tons of radioactive material pile up with no good plan to entomb or deactivate it. All in all, a technology not mature enough to use.


Terry Hamblin said...

But done properly as a mixed oxide product the spent reprocessed fuel can be sold to energy producers as a fuel for a new generation of power stations obviating the need for long term storage and the import and mining of uranium. The sins of bad busineses should not be used to condemn a whole industry. Look at the devastation caused by coal mining.