Thursday, March 31, 2011

Nuclear Power Safety in the United States

It is easy to make the whole nuclear power argument into one of expense for the amount of power generated, into one of carbon emissions, or into one of safety (historically) per KWH generated in comparison to other power sources. But though a coal fired power plant pollutes more in terms of emissions, you can essentially turn it off if needed. A nuclear power plant has no such luxury, as the fuel rods...even the spent ones...need to be kept cool, and thus require power for 10+ years after the nuclear fuel is used up. That doesn't work so well when there are mishaps or natural disasters, as seen in Japan.

"Everybody gets that nuclear power is better than fossil fuels in terms of carbon emissions and climate change. But making that case is not the same thing as realistically assuring the country that nuclear power is safe." - Rachel Maddow from the video below.


The United States' nuclear power facilities have had many more 'mishaps' than you've probably heard about. Rachel discusses those issues in the video. But one thing is clear, the narrative that needs to be dominant in discussion about nuclear power is one about long-term safety of the technology.

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