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The death rates of nuclear power makes no sense to talk about. It is very hard to measure the reduced life expectancy due to radiation. Not to mention a lot of the horrors of Chernobyl was covered up. It also does not take into account the large number of people will severe health problems the rest of their lives.

A nuclear accident is more like a terrorist attack, while deaths from other power sources are more like car accidents. Sure more people die in car accidents, but it does not have the profound psychological effect of a terrorist attack.

Nuclear accidents is like a terrorist attack. They cause massive panics and scare. Uncertainty roams. It is an invisible danger. I don't suddenly get sick from pollution from coal power. Radio activity can make me seriously sick in short time without realizing it. It is an invisible danger.

And even if nuclear accident caused as little health problems and death as the most rose tinted stories suggest, you still cannot run away from the fact that these accidents carry MASSIVE price tags. Chernobyl involved hundreds of thousands of people doing cleanup. It cost 235 billion dollars to do. Fukushima cost 182 billion dollars.

For my native Norway that is roughly a whole state budget. It would bankrupt the country having an accident like that. Or at least if we did not have a big fat oil fund. Most countries don't have a big fat oil fund to finance huge nuclear disasters.

Unless you nuclear advocates start talking serious about the cost issue, you are just glossing over the most serious issues with nuclear power.




A nuclear accident is more like a terrorist attack, while deaths from other power sources are more like car accidents. Sure more people die in car accidents, but it does not have the profound psychological effect of a terrorist attack.

That's exactly the pro-nuclear point; it's far less harmful in aggregate, and held back by irrational fears.

I don't suddenly get sick from pollution from coal power.

You just get suddenly diagnosed with lung cancer, and that's somehow better because you can't say for sure that it was due to exposure from pollution. But overall, it's over 200,000 deaths per year: https://www.nyp.org/cancer/cancerprevention/cancer-preventio.... That's a whole lot of Fukushimas.

And even if nuclear accident caused as little health problems and death as the most rose tinted stories suggest, you still cannot run away from the fact that these accidents carry MASSIVE price tags. Chernobyl involved hundreds of thousands of people doing cleanup. It cost 235 billion dollars to do. Fukushima cost 182 billion dollars.

It's amusing how nuclear power is the one place where environmentalists start worrying about fiscal discipline. Amortized over decades of nuclear power, those aren't that expensive.


> That's exactly the pro-nuclear point; it's far less harmful in aggregate, and held back by irrational fears.

The problem here is that pointing out that irrational fears are irrational, doesn't change them.

This is pretty basic human psychology, and it's not going to change in a decade. I really don't think there's time to change the publics view on nuclear (maybe if there was no Fukushima, but not now) in time to get a huge investment in nuclear going in time to save the planet. I mean, I'll defend nuclear any chance I get, I just don't think it's helping.

Personally I think, if you consider the momentum of the technologies, it's clear that renewables seem to be on a path where they can actually replace nuclear at a lower cost. And that further investments in renewables might be more likely to accelerate renewables, than investments in nuclear is likely to give us an actual nuclear renaissance (although the ideal is increase investments in both). In terms of R&D we should absolutely put more in nuclear, but in terms of actual commercial projects, we should probably build all the renewable we can until it's not economical anymore.


>I don't suddenly get sick from pollution from coal power.

Lung cancer isn't a "sudden sickness"?

Hundreds of thousands of people a year are estimated to die from air pollution. Nuclear has killed far fewer over its entire existence, and it would be almost none without the criminal Chernobyl reactor design.

People are terrible at understanding risk, but very good at being influenced by propaganda. Anti-nuclear propaganda has been very effective.

I'm encouraged by the innovation around Gen 4 modular reactors. I think they'll end up being successful, pervasive, and cheap. ThorCon in particular looks strong.


>People are terrible at understanding risk, but very good at being influenced by propaganda. Anti-nuclear propaganda has been very effective.

Exactly! The money quote in this entire thread.


And I want just add here, as a short sidenote: It's very unfortunate Chernobyl accident happened and how it happened. Some random experiment running in an ancient Soviet nuclear plant, in the middle of the night for no good reason. Considering Soviet work culture and the most dangerous technology on the planet, I guess there was always a distinct possibility. Yet to cause such mayhem, and even better get spread out mixed with burning graphene's ashes across the Europe was really a major score for any anti-nuclear opinion from there on to I guess eternity.

I agree on lot of the points on both sides, but once feelings get in the way, it's very hard to say anything to convince the other party. I'm pro-nuclear as long as it remains as a viable alternative to fossil fuels. If renewables get to a point where they can support all energy needs in every location on earth, great. Let's do that instead. But I don't really feel that much fear about nuclear power than a lot of these anti-nuclear folks. Maybe I'm just dumb, maybe I should fear. But it just seems so far-fetched, if it's maintained properly.


As I also mentioned, I agree with your points on the psychological effects of the nuclear disasters. But do not forget about dam failures that kill a lot of people instantly, gas explosions, oil spills, and most importantly smog caused by coal plants that affect people for the rest of their lives.

You may not suddenly get sick from coal power plant smog but your life quality degrades over time and you develop certain diseases. Even though smog is a visible danger, nobody cares about inhaling it with a great cost to their lives.

There is only one nuclear accident (INES > 3) that has happened in the past 30 years and that is the Fukushima. On the other hand there has been 142 oil spill accidents in the last 30 years[1]. Several sources calculate that on average, cleanup of an oil spill costs around 5 billion dollars[2]. So, in short, oil spills has cost us 710 billion dollars to clean-up in the last 30 years, not including any health or repair etc. material costs. I would also be curious to find out a similar cost calculation for coal related cleanups.

New nuclear plants should not be built blindly. Japan perhaps should not use nuclear technology due to being in a highly active seismic region. But this should not stop other countries from investing in nuclear energy. For example, France is generating 71.7% of their electricity from nuclear sources and they are 'almost' accident-free.

[1] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_oil_spills [2] https://twnsacredtrust.ca/concerns/economic-cost-oil-spill/


I’ll never forget what the Deepwater Horizons spill did to the ocean. I will never forgive that damage. Seems that many have completely forgotten about it though - but easily focus on Chernobyl/Fukushima. Edit-name


Deepwater Horizon?



I was correcting him, they originally said New Horizons which I think is a rehab facility.


I was correcting them*

(ugh, I missed one of those pronouns)


The Japanese can safely use nuclear reactors, only smaller ones with passive cooling, like NuScale.


>It is very hard to measure the reduced life expectancy due to radiation..

Not at all true, as there us a ton of research that all point to low levels of radiation having minimal risk. See: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Linear_no-threshold_model

The hysterics that surround nuclear accidents (like what happened in Europe during the Chernobyl disaster) were simply an overreaction.


There's been many long-term effects of Chernobyl disaster in eastern Europe. For example, thyroid diseases rate spiked dramatically in Belarus and eastern Poland.

It's not fully confirmed this was the only/major cause, but it seems very likely from the evidence.


Do most countries have big fat oil funds to finance the cost of the incoming environmental disasters?

> I don't suddenly get sick from pollution from coal power

Coal power is actually worse for health than nuclear power and releases more radioactive material into the environment.


> It is very hard to measure the reduced life expectancy due to radiation.

No it is not. The ability to fairly precisely calculate cancer risk over time based on radiation exposure is exactly how we get the death numbers for nuclear. It's basically no different than calculating deaths from other airborne pollution except that radiation gives you cancer whereas coal soot (for example) gives you lung problems.


If you build a large nuclear reactor, you get big-scale negative effects in case of its failure. Both Chernobyl and Fukushima were "mega projects" by their design based on controlled explosion. You don't have to build gigantic reactors anymore, they could be relatively compact and the effect of their failure is appropriate. I don't want to reuse all these preachers about yet-not-existing-but-totally-superior-x-generation nuclear reactors, but as I understand there are already active reactors that are, unlike Chernobyl and Fukushima, already based on a reaction that won't cause an explosion and catastrophic effects in case of failure, instead they would just become unusable. Also the number of victims of the Chernobyl disaster are exaggerated. And the 235 billion dollar price tag is taken out of nowhere. The weak position of nuclear industry is the mining tho.


Alvin Weinberg basically said that one cannot make the same safety guarantees for a 1000 MW utility scale reactor vs. a 16 MW naval scale reactor.

https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=iW8yuyk3Ugw


if 20 milliseverts per year is the correct level for evacuation then why do we not evacuate Kerela in India, Ramsdar in Iran. Kerela has radiation levels 3 times higher than 20 milliseverts per year. Denver has higher background radiation than most places in the US. Higher altitude and higher radon levels. They are not quite to 20 milliseverts per year unless they have more radon in their house which some do.

Flight crews get 3.1 milliseverts per year. About 50 days worth of Fukushima exposure.

Air pollution causes 7 million deaths per year. 4 million from outdoor air pollution. The hospitalization rate increases on the bad air days. The effect is immediate for many elderly and asthmatics. Air pollution levels in some cities in India, China and other parts of Asia is like forcing everyone (including babies and the elderly or asthmatics) to smoke 6+ cigarettes a day.

Being barely able to breath is very unpleasant and scary.

12,000 people died over 2 weeks in 1952 during the London Fog air pollution event. Atmospheric inversion trapped air pollution. People dropped dead with blue lips and their last few minutes to hours were spent gasping for breath.

144 people were killed in 1966. During the Aberfan disaster. Millions of tons of coal mine waste were left in piles on a mountain. A heavy rain caused the mine waste to slide down the mountain and into the town of Aberfan. It buried a school. 117 children dead.

https://www.nextbigfuture.com/2011/03/aberfan-coal-disaster-...

Multiple incidents where over 100 people get burned alive in oil tanker spills. 150+ in Pakistan in 2017. Poor people ran towards on oil tanker spill to scoop up oil from a leak. Then it caught fire and they were burned alive.

8 billion tons of coal is moved every year. 1000+ die mining it. Many die underground slowly when they are trapped in collapsed coal mines. 40% of freight trains and trucks move coal. So almost all freight train and truck accidents in certain areas are people being hit by a vehicle loaded with coal.

5 billion tons of oil per year.

Norway is big into oil and gas. $62 billion for the BP oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico.


> It is very hard to measure the reduced life expectancy due to radiation

There's virtually no radiation, but assuming there was some amount of dangerous radiation, we should also account for death caused by coal or oil pollution as well.

> Nuclear accidents is like a terrorist attack. They cause massive panics and scare

While oil spills cause death and destruction for hundreds of thousands, while also destroying the environment, but who cares?

> Chernobyl involved hundreds of thousands of people doing cleanup.

Hundreds of thousands sounds like a made up number.

But if we wanna talk about costs, the real costs are

    The direct costs of the Fukushima disaster will be about $15 billion in clean-up over the next 20 years and over $60 billion in refugee compensation. Replacing Japan’s 300 billion kWhs from nuclear each year with fossil fuels has cost Japan over $200 billion
And we are talking about Japanese people, the 1991 Gulf War Oil Spill involved mainly Iraqi people, relocation costs weren't so high, after all we were bombing them already...

The cleanup costed "only" 540 million dollars, but

   If you take into account all of the burning oil wells, it is likely that hundreds of millions of barrels soaked into the earth from January to November of 1991 (about the amount of motor gasoline burned in California in 1989

How much did it cost? How much damage did it produce for the environment?

    some of the oil spilled deep into the sea, burrowing up to 40 cm in the sand and mudflats. It remains there to this day. This disaster does not just highlight the responsibilities humans have in managing oil wells, rigs, pipelines, and tankers, it demonstrates how carelessness with a non-renewable energy source and pollutant, purposeful or not, can have devastating long-term environmental impacts that cannot be undone.


> It is very hard to measure the reduced life expectancy due to radiation

But radiation is very easy to measure. Coal pollution on the other hand is not.

So people have an inflated fear of radiation simply because it's so hard to measure.

It reminds me of how when Israel detected Polio in sewage, people said Israel is one of those countries with endemic Polio. Except other countries aren't even checking their sewage.

"We detected <tiny amount> of radiation from Fukushima in seawater, oh no!"

I've seen this many times: People notice when you measure some dangerous thing, and avoid it, while being completely blind to the fact that other dangerous things they do are not measured, so they think they are safe.

No one measured how much coal pollution was in sea water, so coal pollution is clearly safe, right?


Well, at least environment destruction gets a price tag now...




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