Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Why Fukushima is a Testament to Nuclear Safety

George Monbiot is usually a Malthusian moron, but this is spot on:
...A crappy old plant with inadequate safety features was hit by a monster earthquake and a vast tsunami. The electricity supply failed, knocking out the cooling system. The reactors began to explode and melt down. The disaster exposed a familiar legacy of poor design and corner-cutting. Yet, as far as we know, no one has yet received a lethal dose of radiation.

Some greens have wildly exaggerated the dangers of radioactive pollution. For a clearer view, look at the graphic published by xkcd.com. It shows that the average total dose from the Three Mile Island disaster for someone living within 10 miles of the plant was one 625th of the maximum yearly amount permitted for US radiation workers. This, in turn, is half of the lowest one-year dose clearly linked to an increased cancer risk, which, in its turn, is one 80th of an invariably fatal exposure. I'm not proposing complacency here. I am proposing perspective.

If other forms of energy production caused no damage, these impacts would weigh more heavily. But energy is like medicine: if there are no side-effects, the chances are that it doesn't work...

UPDATE:  Ted sent me this chart showing the many scales of radiation (stuff I knew more or less intuitively from using radioactive elements, sources and counters for years) that really shows how much radiation it takes to hurt someone, compared to the doses being talked about:

Click to embiggen (it's huge).

No comments:

Post a Comment