Just how dangerous is nuclear power?

I thought this graphic representation of the dangers of different energy sources was pretty informative. I’ve always been a fan of nuclear power. I hope (completely in vain) that the current events in Japan don’t reignite irrational fears of nuclear plants.

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2 Responses to Just how dangerous is nuclear power?

  1. JrL says:

    This is much more accurate than yesterday’s local paper editorial cartoon (number of deaths in Japan from earthquake/tsunami/nuclear explosion), but it suffers from the same problem: injuries from nuclear accidents may not have a perceptible impact for months or years — and some of them only when babies are born and grow up. Even then, though the complications of genetic damage may adversely affect the lives of many, those defects may not kill them — and if they do, it is unlikely that someone will count them up and add them to the “nuclear power deaths” list.

    I do think that the threat posed by the reactors themselves will be overblown by some. But the problem of long-term storage of nuclear waste remains with us. it was a matter of lengthy, serious debate when I worked for the US House of Representatives in the late 1970s. The problem hasn’t been solved, but somehow we’ve concluded that what we once thought were temporary solutions can be treated as long-term solutions. Though I hate to say “concluded.” That suggest conscious decionmaking, and I’m not sure anyone has really decided that — perhaps we’ve just assumed that because we haven’t seen a disaster from the short-term solutions, we can hold on the them until at least a new generation comes along. Maybe, just maybe, we’ll learn from what’s happening in Japan: the most important lessons from what’s happening in Japan may come not from the problems with the reactors, but the problems with the storage pools.

  2. Derek says:

    I’m with you in hoping that Japan doesn’t ignite more irrational fears about nuclear power. This cartoon sums it up: http://1.bp.blogspot.com/_Rh5nGpKOUWs/SuuFNXKqGgI/AAAAAAAAAjo/Et2LP6itnVQ/s1600-h/nuke_Green.jpg

    In college I got into a heated argument with a friend about nuclear waste and how France recycles it. My take-away was that we use very little of the energy in the rods, and what we’re calling “waste” is in fact perfectly usable nuclear material.

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