Can nuclear power ever be safe?

Evidence over six decades shows that nuclear energy is a safe means of generating electricity. The risk of accidents at nuclear power plants is low and is decreasing. The consequences of an accident or terrorist attack are minimal compared to other commonly accepted risks. Despite public concerns, the data clearly show that nuclear energy is a much safer source of energy than fossil fuels.

Recent innovations could soon reduce risks even further. Nuclear power sources are dangerous because they emit particles of radiation and energy released from unstable molecules that try to calm down. Those radioactive missiles can impact the human body and damage cells or DNA, says David Lochbaum, director of the nuclear safety project at the Union of Concerned Scientists. A sufficient amount of radiation will cause cancer or, possibly, even transmit genetic mutations to your children.

Too much can kill you directly. Study after study in major scientific journals found that nuclear power plants are by far the safest way to produce reliable electricity. So why are we so afraid of them? There is no doubt that nuclear energy has problems that can cost human lives, but such risks are borne by all major modes of energy production. In addition, with the advent of modern reactors, such as the pebble bed reactor and the careful selection of plant sites, nuclear accidents such as the one in Fukushima are not possible.

The main proposal for long-term storage of nuclear waste is to bury it in carefully selected deep geological deposits. One of Rhodes' Energy's most shocking passages deals with how a Nobel Prize-winning American scientist committed scientific fraud to exaggerate the risks of nuclear radiation to human health. Muller's status as a powerful scientist and Nobel Prize winner allowed him to establish his falsified theory as the scientific basis for regulating nuclear power plants in the coming decades. Today, nuclear power plants of this generation are closed and, for the most part, dismantled.

This might be a poor assumption, but it's because nuclear power is expected to be safer for the following reason. Japan has restarted 9 of its 35 reactors and expects to return to a 20% nuclear energy portfolio soon. It's incredible that nuclear energy has the lowest CO2 of all commercial energy sources because I had no idea it was much cleaner. Think about it logically, even if solar and wind power could match the potential of nuclear energy, the associated problems are currently enormous.

Some 50 third-generation nuclear power plants are already in operation or under construction worldwide, and another 150 to 200 plants are in the planning or preparation phases. With the improper disposal of nuclear waste, thousands of poor people (because nuclear power plants will almost certainly be built next to poor neighborhoods, not the rich) will be displaced and possibly develop some form of cancer.