Despite Fukushima, Nuclear Power Is Safest Technology

Nuclear Power Plant

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Nuclear Power PlantDespite the drama unfolding at the Fukushima Nuclear Plant in earthquake ravaged Northern Japan, nuclear power is still the safest energy technology available. There are a number of very vocal anti-nuclear power protesters, but perhaps they are acting on emotion rather than the actual statistics. View them here.

A simpler reduction of the information is found in the chart. It doesn’t account for all the variables as the linked article, but it illustrates the point in a clear manner

Energy Technology Death rate per terawatt hours of generated energy
Coal 161.00
Oil 36.00
Biofuel/Biomass 12.00
Peat 12.00
Natural Gas 4.00
Hydro 1.40
Solar (rooftop) 0.44
Wind 0.15
Nuclear 0.04

 

 

The pie below gives a graphical view of the rates of death for energy production.

Death Rate for Various Energy Producing Technologies
Death Rate for Various Energy Producing Technologies

 

On his blog, Seth Godin gives a more dramatic visual of the deaths attributed to various technologies.

Illustration by Seth Godin

Why are coal and oil still our favored technologies? Because a couple of large scale scary events like Three Mile Island Nuclear Plant partial meltdown and the Chernobyl disaster are the measuring sticks that we use to judge our emotional response to the technology. Yet the death toll of coal and oil is so common that it hardly makes a blip in our collective consciousness. Just last year 11 men were killed when BP’s Deep Water Horizon oil rig exploded in the Gulf of Mexico , 25 miners died in a West Virginia mining accident and the world was held captive as 33 coal miners were rescued in Chile, narrowly escaping a cave in that just as easily could have killed them all. But those events are not met with calls to rethink and discard the technology of coal and oil production as has happened with nuclear power generation. The earthquake that has disabled and put at risk the Fukushima Nuclear plant in Japan has reignited the irrational fears of nuclear technology, but if we look at the technology over the course of time, the statistics say it is the safest.

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3 Thoughts to “Despite Fukushima, Nuclear Power Is Safest Technology”

  1. Jennie

    This page is incorrectly using terawatts as a measurement of energy. A watt describes power, not energy (1 watt = 1 joule / 1 second). I think the proper unit to be using in this article is TWH, terawatt-hours, which is the equivalent of 1,000,000,000 kilowatts of power being produced over the period of an hour, or conversely 1 kilowatt of power over 1,000,000,000 hours.

    1. You’re right. The coal number is also incorrect, as it contains all outdoor pollution.

      Energy Source Death Rate (deaths per TWh) CORRECTED

      Coal (elect, heat,cook –world avg) 100 (26% of world energy, 50% of electricity)
      Coal electricity – world avg 60 (26% of world energy, 50% of electricity)
      Coal (elect,heat,cook)– China 170
      Coal electricity- China 90
      Coal – USA 15
      Oil 36 (36% of world energy)
      Natural Gas 4 (21% of world energy)
      Biofuel/Biomass 12
      Peat 12
      Solar (rooftop) 0.44 (0.2% of world energy for all solar)
      Wind 0.15 (1.6% of world energy)
      Hydro 0.10 (europe death rate, 2.2% of world energy)
      Hydro – world including Banqiao) 1.4 (about 2500 TWh/yr and 171,000 Banqiao dead)
      Nuclear 0.04 (5.9% of world energy)

      Source: http://nextbigfuture.com/2011/03/deaths-per-twh-by-energy-source.html

  2. anonymous

    thanks for help on test

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