Nuclear Energy – Growing Support for this Source of Power

 Are you afraid of Nuclear Power because of the way it has been portrayed by the media, the government and/or activists?

If so, here are some facts that fear-mongering groups don’t tell you:

1. Natural sources of radioactivity are found in soil and stones; cosmic rays from outer space, the food we eat and the water we drink. Only 0.005% of the average American’s yearly radiation dose comes from nuclear power. It is about the same as eating 1 banana per year.

2. In over 18,5000 reactor-years of nuclear power operation in 36 countries, there have been only two accidents that resulted in radiation doses that were greater than regular exposure from natural sources. The two major accidents were: Chernobyl (1986) and Fukushima Daiichi (2011). In terms of total human fatalities at Chernobyl, 2 workers died in the blast; 28 workers and firemen died within weeks from acute radiation syndrome. At Fukushima, two people died from direct impact of the accident and or radiation exposure.

A detailed list of the death toll from these two accidents has been posted by ‘Our World in Data’: Death Toll from Chernobyl and Fukushima.( I found many internet stories with far higher death toll numbers, but generally they do not cite sources for the information like Our World in Data does.)

Last week, Japan’s prime minister said the country is restarting idled nuclear plants and considering building new ones. This is a sharp reversal for the country that largely abandoned nuclear after the tsunami-led disaster at the Fukushima plant in 2011.
– NPR: Why Even Environmentalists are supporting Nuclear Power Today –

3. In the resulting 30 kilometer Chernobyl exclusion zone, the radioactivity decayed rapidly. Within a month, only a few per cent of the initial contamination remained. After a year it was less than 1 per cent and animal populations in the zone exploded, along with the development of more biodiverse primary forests.

4. A nuclear reactor can not explode like a nuclear weapon.

An Environmental Activist Becomes a Nuclear Power Advocate

Michael Shellenberger Testimony before the United States Senate Committee on Energy and Natural Resources

Only nuclear can lift all humans out of poverty while saving the natural environment. Nothing else – not coal, not solar, not geo-engineering – can do that.
– Michael Shellenberger –

Environmentalists have much less to fear in reality from the current nuclear power industry than they think, and much more to gain from new and planned reactor designs than they realize.
– Steward Brand, Editor, Whole Earth Catalog –

Professor Gerry Thomas, Chair in Molecular Pathology, Imperial College London: We should have less fear of radiation

Other Sources:

Argonne National Laboratory: 10 Myths about Nuclear Energy, used with permission of the American Nuclear Society

World Nuclear Association: What are the Effects of Nuclear Accidents

Chernobyl: Has the area recovered since 1986’s nuclear disaster?

15 thoughts on “Nuclear Energy – Growing Support for this Source of Power

  1. I’m against (the current generation of) nuclear power for several reasons. One of the main ones is that, despite the marketing claiming how ‘safe’ they are, you only need a short period of locar unrest to make them decidedly unsafe. The Russian takeover of the Zaporizhzhia plant in Ukraine is a case in point.


    1. ‘Nature’ released a fairly comprehensive article called “Ukraine nuclear power plant attack: scientists assess the risks” which addresses some of your concerns about the safety of that plant. They noted that the prevailing winds blow towards Russia…
      1.2 million people world wide die from road traffic accidents each year – a number that exceeds, by many times, the number of people who died from the worst deliberate release of nuclear – the two bombs in 1945. So, from my perspective, the benefits of nuclear power far outweigh the risks they present – risks far smaller than the ones we take in daily life without much thought.

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  2. I didn’t watch the video (sorry) but what about the waste? That was a question back in the day but perhaps they have a way to reduce/reuse it now?


    1. The World Nuclear Association has lots of information about this topic. This article is a good start in understanding radioactive waste:
      The organization puts the amount of waste into perspective by saying the total volume of high-level radioactive used fuel waste is roughly the size of a three meter tall building the size of a soccer pitch. There is, of course, a greater volume of lower level waste, but to be fair to nuclear, there are many, many hazardous wastes produced by manufacturing of such things as paints, batteries, pesticides, etc, etc.
      How many hazardous products do each of us have in our homes? I think we, and the industries that produce these products, do not have the same stringent disposal guidelines that the nuclear energy industry has.

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  3. I am not against nuclear power – as you have pointed out, the fear outweighs common sense on this issue. I would like to see this country allow reprocessing waste. Hot waste can still be used to produce electricity. Not reprocessing is dumb.


    1. Reprocessing in the United States seems to be tied to political will, right? The Trump administration appears to have been the first in many years to rethink reprocessing. The DOE has since launched development of technologies to reduce waste volume, but in concert with the future of nuclear power in all it’s forms (if I understand the articles I read correctly.)

      It seems to me that governments in Canada and the USA sometimes respond favorably to public and activist pressure, even if the activist demands are contradicted by authorities who actually work in a field, have years of data to support their positions AND have taken the time to consider the unintended consequences of any actions taken!

      This is why I listened to Michael Schellenberger in the first place – he is an ardent environmental activist who goes out in the field to actually see if what he advocates for actually works for the people who will have to live with a government’s or NGO’s action. When he says he changed his mind about nuclear, it is because he has looked at it from all sides.

      I also follow the blog of a Canadian environmentalist who does well-researched articles about all sorts of environmental issues. a chemist in langley

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  4. We moved a stone’s throw – literally – from the Savannah River Site (SRS) here in South Carolina, a former materials production facility for nuclear bombs in the 1960’s. SRS has been in the process of being decommissioned ever since. Even if the Savannah River flowed our direction from SRS I still think we’d have moved here. I’ve always believed in the positives of nuclear, and the inevitability of its role in the energy resources we will depend on in the future. As with fossil fuels, we will learn to live with the inherent consequences and risks.


    1. Learning to live with risks and consequences – that is it precisely. Accidents are the third leading cause of death in Canada and the USA, yet we keep using the products that lead to these accidents. There is a very long list of Oil Refinery explosions and other such events related to the oil industry but that is the consequence of a risky business that has, for better (and sometimes worse), transformed lives in ways many people don’t acknowledge or perhaps even understand. (Without fossil fuels, wind turbines and solar panels in their current configurations could not be manufactured.)

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  5. I am not against nuclear power – as you have pointed out, the fear outweighs common sense on this issue. I would like to see this country allow reprocessing waste. Hot waste can still be used to produce electricity. Not reprocessing is dumb.


    1. In my part of the world, I suppose the American (or Canadian) public that supports nuclear power have to be as vocally active as those who don’t. Contacting an elected representative, sending ‘letters’ of support to the media and even blogging about it (for people who have a blog) are all good options.


  6. We thought you’d like to read flacademy 600-million-people-without-electricity-in-africa-due-to-lack-of-infrastructure-and-investment

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  7. I’ve always wondered why there’s never been an outcry about the number of deaths caused by electricity. Worldwide the numbers even per day would be high. I guess the usefulness outweighs the toll.


  8. Some excellent points. I have been amazed that nuclear power has not been more popular in an age where carbon emissions have become everything to so many.


    1. I guess we haven’t reached the end of the ‘life cycle of hope’ that renewables would provide abundant, cheap energy. Nuclear Power has to overcome a mountain of misinformation and media driven bias.

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