Relative Danger of Energy Sources

Nuclear Power

4. How many are expected to die from nuclear power accidents over the next decade?
< 100          100 – 1,000           1,000 – 10,000        10,000 - 100,000       > 100,000
The chance of accident is greater than 0, and the chance of death in event of accident is greater than 0. However, in five decades of nuclear power outside the former Soviet Union, 11,000 reactor years, there has been one major accident (Three Mile Island), and no deaths, even though many reactors of early designs were used in early regulatory systems. Three Mile Island and lesser problems showed that reactor safety had much room for improvement. Newer safety features include depending on passive solutions (gravity or warm metals expanding) rather than active ones (pumps and valves). There is more redundancy (having more than one identical part in case one fails, or more than one way to solve a problem in case one fails) and multiple barriers. Each generation of nuclear power plants emphasizes safety improvements, as in this design or this.

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