How to make nuclear power safe in 6 easy steps!

How to make nuclear power safe in 6 easy steps!

Jim Green

National nuclear campaigner - Friends of the Earth, Australia

2007

  1. Acknowledge immediate deaths that were undoubtedly caused by a nuclear accident. Ignore long-term deaths from exposure to lower levels of radiation. For example, immediate deaths from Chernobyl were about 50, credible estimates of long-term deaths range from thousands to tens of thousands.
  2. Consider nuclear power reactor accidents and ignore the impacts of accidents across the nuclear fuel cycle, e.g. serious and sometimes fatal accidents at uranium mines, uranium enrichment plants, reprocessing plants etc.
  3. Fudge the science. For example, studies of the death toll from Chernobyl necessarily rely on statistical/epidemiological studies, and even epidemiology is a fairly blunt instrument because of the 'statistical noise' in the form of widepsread cancer incidence from many causes. Another way to estimate the death toll is to multiply the estimated total human radiation exposure from Chernobyl by a standard risk estimate. This is totally legitimate though, of course, no better than the underlying estimates. Using a standard risk estimate from the International Commission on Radiological Protection (0.04 cancer deaths per person-Sievert) and the International Atomic Energy Agency's estimate of total exposure (600,000 person-Sieverts) gives an estimated 24,000 cancer deaths from Chernobyl. By contrast, nuclear apologists ignore altogether these long-term predicted deaths.
  4. Ignore the greatest danger of nuclear power, a problem that is unique among energy sources - its direct and repeatedly-demonstrated connection to the production of nuclear weapons.
  5. Make wild claims about the safety of 'new generation' reactors. Impossible to prove or disprove these claims, since the new reactors exist only as designs on paper. One cynic from within the nuclear industry has quipped that "the paper-moderated, ink-cooled reactor is the safest of all."
  6. And, among many other ways to 'prove' the safety of the nuclear industry, claim that a nuclear accident did not effect any member of the 'community'... without mentioning that a number of nuclear industry workers were harmed or killed. For example, the Lucas Heights nuclear agency ANSTO pretends that no research reactor accident has ever harmed a member of the surrounding community, which is a disingenuous way of avoiding mention of five or six fatal research reactor accidents that have killed workers.