The global Left is now shamelessly using the Japanese Fukishima nuclear electric plant disaster to scaremonger people so that they will become hostile to NEPs. In Germany, the SPD has demanded an immediate closure of all NEPs (which provide that country with 20% of its electricity). In the US, the Left has managed to prevent the construction of any new nuclear reactors since 1979, the Three Miles Island accident.
Yet, the truth is that NEPs are the safest EPs in the world and that the Fukushima disaster and the TMI accident were/are not as bad as the Left claims.
The TMI accident was mild. A small dose of radioactivity was emitted, but the TMI plant’s safety systems worked as designed, shutting down the plant and thus preventing a real disaster. No one died or became ill as a result of this accident.
Similarly, no one has died or become ill as a result of the Fukushima accident, and those who were nearby the Fukushima plant were radiated only in the same degree that you are radiated when you receive an X-ray.
By contrast, coal-fired EPs in the US, like those in Germany, Poland, China, and other coal-dependent countries around the world, emit more radioactivity every year (in terms of radioactive smokes, ashes, and gravel) than the Fukushima plant has emitted to date. This is because every metric ton of coal contains 2 grams of uranium and 4 grams of thorium; coal from Silesia (now in Poland) contains 4 times as much uranium and thorium. And please note: coal-fired EPs emit radioactive smokes, ashes, and gravel containing this stuff every day. In the Communist Bloc, there was even once a scandal featuring radioactive gravel from coal-fired EP waste that was used as one of the components in buildings.
Not to be discounted is the issue of CO2 emissions and the issue of reliability. I don’t believe in global warming, but the Left is constantly promoting solar panels and wind turbines as alternatives to nuclear reactors. So let’s see how they compare, shall we?
Firstly, solar panels and wind turbines, even with huge governmental subsidies, are much more expensive than nuclear reactors. To provide 1.6 Gigawatts, you have to build either one Areva EPR reactor that costs 3 bn EUR or wind turbines that cost 9 bn EUR. Secondly, solar panels don’t work during nighttime and lousy weather; wind turbines don’t work when the wind doesn’t blow, which is 70% of the time. Nuclear reactors can work 24/7.
Thirdly, while none of them emit CO2 when they operate, much more CO2 is used to produce wind turbines (and the material for them) than for nuclear reactors. To build enough wind turbines to provide 1.6 Gigawatts, you have to use up 4 mn tons of concrete, 1 mn tons of steel, 100,000 tons of materials derived from oil or glass, 50,000 tons of copper, and 10,000 tons of aluminum. To build a 1.6 GW Areva EPR reactor, you only need 1 mn tons of concrete, 100,000 tons of steel, 5,000 tons of materials derived from oil or glass, 5000 tons of copper, and 200 tons of aluminum. An Areva EPR reactor could be used for 60 years, while wind turbines cannot be used for more than 25-30 years.