Relative Danger of Energy Sources
1. How many Americans will die from coal mining this decade?
< 100 100
– 10,000 10,000 -
100,000 > 100,000
Coal power requires 100,000 - 1,000,000 times as much fuel as does
nuclear power to produce the same
amount of electricity; uranium mining involves fewer workers.
- Several thousand predicted, mostly from black lung and other
respiratory disease, and heart disease. (Approximately 1/4 Chernobyl
According to Center
for Disease Control, coal workers’ pneumoconiosis is the
underlying, or a contributing, cause in about 900 deaths among US coal
miners each year. After declining rates of death for decades (from
3,000/year in 1972), the rate of death is now
rising in the US.
Accidents used to
kill hundreds to thousands of US miners/year, but by the l990s,
deaths fell below 100/year, though more than 20,000 were injured each
Worldwide, between 10,000
and 15,000 coal miners (ch. 6 of Australia's
friendly fuel for an energy hungry world) die yearly from
number of deaths is greatest in China (averaging over
6,000/year), but the death rate is highest in the Ukraine, where more
miners Deaths from
Ukraine -- 7 deaths from accidents/million metric tonnes coal mined (Mt)
China -- 4.2 deaths/Mt
US -- 0.034 deaths/Mt
Australia -- 0.009 deaths/Mt
At more than 200 deaths from coal mining accidents/year, Ukraine's coal
mining deaths since Chernobyl (1986) is already larger than the
deaths expected from Chernobyl over 8 decades.
Note: in the US, today, coal
power supplies 2.5 times as much electricity as does nuclear, so
multiply nuclear deaths by 2.5 to compare to coal deaths. In the 1940s
and 1950s, when miners were exposed to radon which eventually killed
many, much of the uranium mining was done for weapons. I don't
know how the quantity of uranium mined during the 1940s and 1950s would
compare to uranium mined today.
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