Skip to main content

Nuclear Energy Risks and Benefits in Perspective

Stan Gordelier, Head of the NEA Nuclear Development Division of the OECD, wrote a piece last month putting the risks and benefits of nuclear energy into perspective (pdf):
A continuing concern for the public and politicians is the safety of nuclear power. ENSAD, the Energy-related Severe Accident Database established by the Paul Scherrer Institute in Switzerland, contains data on over 18400 accidents, mainly between 1969 and 2000, of which 35% are energy-related, and 3117 of which are rated as severe (with five or more prompt fatalities).

...

During this period there has only been one severe hydro power accident in OECD countries, resulting in 14 prompt fatalities. There have been no OECD nuclear accidents in this "severe" classification.

...

Why then, does nuclear seem to provoke unique safety fears in the public mind? It could likely be some combination of the association with nuclear weapons, the fear of very low probability, but very large accidents, the fact that latent deaths are associated with cancer, a disease much feared in its own right (and cancer can affect "me", whereas oil and gas accidents generally impact those working with the industry, except for the huge accidents), and the publicity that nuclear attracts because of these factors.
Great insights. I recommend reading this five page brief because he gets into lifecycle emissions of different energies, sources of emissions by sector, fuel resources, accident risks and the world's appetite for energy.

Comments

Popular posts from this blog

A Design Team Pictures the Future of Nuclear Energy

For more than 100 years, the shape and location of human settlements has been defined in large part by energy and water. Cities grew up near natural resources like hydropower, and near water for agricultural, industrial and household use.

So what would the world look like with a new generation of small nuclear reactors that could provide abundant, clean energy for electricity, water pumping and desalination and industrial processes?

Hard to say with precision, but Third Way, the non-partisan think tank, asked the design team at the Washington, D.C. office of Gensler & Associates, an architecture and interior design firm that specializes in sustainable projects like a complex that houses the NFL’s Dallas Cowboys. The talented designers saw a blooming desert and a cozy arctic village, an old urban mill re-purposed as an energy producer, a data center that integrates solar panels on its sprawling flat roofs, a naval base and a humming transit hub.

In the converted mill, high temperat…

Seeing the Light on Nuclear Energy

If you think that there is plenty of electricity, that the air is clean enough and that nuclear power is a just one among many options for meeting human needs, then you are probably over-focused on the United States or Western Europe. Even then, you’d be wrong.

That’s the idea at the heart of a new book, “Seeing the Light: The Case for Nuclear Power in the 21st Century,” by Scott L. Montgomery, a geoscientist and energy expert, and Thomas Graham Jr., a retired ambassador and arms control expert.


Billions of people live in energy poverty, they write, and even those who don’t, those who live in places where there is always an electric outlet or a light switch handy, we need to unmake the last 200 years of energy history, and move to non-carbon sources. Energy is integral to our lives but the authors cite a World Health Organization estimate that more than 6.5 million people die each year from air pollution.  In addition, they say, the global climate is heading for ruinous instability. E…

Sneak Peek

There's an invisible force powering and propelling our way of life.
It's all around us. You can't feel it. Smell it. Or taste it.
But it's there all the same. And if you look close enough, you can see all the amazing and wondrous things it does.
It not only powers our cities and towns.
And all the high-tech things we love.
It gives us the power to invent.
To explore.
To discover.
To create advanced technologies.
This invisible force creates jobs out of thin air.
It adds billions to our economy.
It's on even when we're not.
And stays on no matter what Mother Nature throws at it.
This invisible force takes us to the outer reaches of outer space.
And to the very depths of our oceans.
It brings us together. And it makes us better.
And most importantly, it has the power to do all this in our lifetime while barely leaving a trace.
Some people might say it's kind of unbelievable.
They wonder, what is this new power that does all these extraordinary things?