Let me put it this way:
People bicker of the exactness of data suggesting that nuclear power kills fewer people per terrawatt-hour versus Solar and Wind that it should be rather telling that if you can even have that argument, it’s gotta be pretty freaking safe when most people’s first question is “How in the world can it be safer than solar or wind?”
The answer is “Regulation.” Politicians don’t think to regulate solar or wind specifically, so it doesn’t really get regulated beyond what laws were already in place.
As a result, you experience occasional fires, fall hazards, et cetera. Nothing super concerning (except the industries don’t know how much waste they are producing because no one bothers to record it!). Now, solar and wind are safe! They’re also relatively cheap (due to lessened regulation – not that they need as much regulation as nuclear, but more would be nice in some areas).
Nuclear power, on the other hand? We’re regulated as hell. That’s where most of the cost comes from once you get past initial construction. Just the other day we had OSHA tell divers they couldn’t go over the safety railing into the water without a life jacket and safety line… (the divers reacted in a great way – they just ignored them, and rightly so.) But its that sort of reason why nuclear power plants are safe, and expensive: regulation is followed to the letter until it is proven that the regulation does not apply in a specific situation.
- 2012 State of the Union Address: Is the promise of clean energy going to be fulfilled before climate change is irreversable?
- If Thorium (LFTR) reactors are so awesome, why hasn't anyone built one yet?
- How long will it takes for the fuel rods at the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant to bore through the last line of defence?
- Could a nuclear power plant create itself or does it require human engineers and scientists?
- Is dumping nuclear waste into the water near Fukushima harmful?
We can’t take water from the river to wash off bird poop back into the river. That’s how regulated we are.
As a result, the slightest sign of potential injury, and major freakouts occur. Someone accidentally bumps their head on something? Gotta spend tons of money turning the area into a padded room. (Not literally).
And unlike Chernobyl, American plants are designed to withstand a pressure detonation.
Fukushima had issues, yes, and they didn’t follow proper safety culture. But Fukushima still has yet to kill anyone. As much as I hate TEPCO, they still did do some things right.
That wind turbine fire killed two, compared to Fukushimas zero. I’m not keeping score. I want us to use wind. But I’m putting things in perspective.
Nuclear power is ridiculously safe.
What’s that, terrorists you say? What are they going to hit it with? A plane won’t dent the containment. They don’t know enough of the layout of the plant to do anything. We’ve tested this. If you question this:
- Planes are flimsy and made of aluminum.
- 2 meter thick reinforced concrete walls can withstand just about anything, and that’s not even the reactor yet; the reactor itself is made of thick steel; it might as well be a battleship.
And nuclear power security forces are top-notch – and entrenched. Good luck on that.
“But it’s so much more expensive?” Oh, I thought we wanted to save the environment, not save money. There are plenty of ways we could make it cheaper. Like get rid of the Coal Lobbyists. You know, the guys who are promoting a form of energy generation more than 10,000 times deadlier than nuclear.
I will say this: They are safe for the general populace. Our old plants are hardly killing anyone at all, the ones we are building now are half a century more advanced in some cases. Compare that to computers, and you’ll see why I consider it ridiculous to use “Chernobyl” as a reason to argue against building new reactors. (Aside from the fact that few nuclear power plants operate like Chernobyl).
They are not so safe for the operators. One of my supervisors likes to remind us on at least a weekly basis “This place will kill you if you let it.” Rotating machinery, places to fall, danger of electrical shock, et cetera.
“But what about waste?” Well, we need to take care of that, but we have plans, but I suspect the Coal-lobbyists that shot down high-temperature (therefore higher efficiency, therefore higher energy and lower cost – thanks for forcing some validity to that “reactors cost a lot” argument, Coal) reactors are also shutting down things like the TWR and other reactor designs that would make nuclear power the first and only form of energy generation to reuse it’s own spent waste.
As it stands, that waste isn’t going anywhere – which is good. We can contain it, regulate it, and monitor it until we can store it. We’ve got a while… now if only anti-environment fearmongers would let us do something with it.