Japan's Nuclear Crisis - Statistically Safer than Air Travel

I was watching The 7PM Project on Channel Ten and the topic was the safety of Nuclear power in the light of the Japan Nuclear disaster.

Japan's Fukushim Nuclear
Plant Explodes 
Japan's Nuclear Power Plant explosions are considered to be arguably the worst nuclear power disasters ever - even if nothing else went wrong from this point onwards (noting that at the time I'm writing this events are still unfolding).

One of the 7PM Project's panelists, Andrew Bolt,  from a pro-nuclear power support position came up with the statement that '...even if you take the Chernobyl Nuclear meltdown only 65 people have ever died from that accident'. So that makes nuclear power safe then?

Fortunately his co-panelist, Charlie Pickering, pointed out that this figure did not take into account all the people who got sick from that melt down but, as it was the end of the show, didn't have time to mention the environmental impact as well.

However, how many times have you heard the often quoted phrase 'If this saves just one life then it will be worth it'? They use it all the time for all kinds of 'safety' campaigns.

Apparently, if not building a nuclear power plant saves just one person from dying in a meltdown... well it just doesn't have the same tug at the heart strings.

Building a nuclear power plant is a choice. The more of them that are built the more likely the chance of a meltdown. A meltdown is not an insignificant event. Apart from the immediate threat, the after effects can be ongoing for decades.

Excuse me if I don't want to be a part of that.

Nuclear power is not safe - heck it's not even clean. Storing Nuclear waste does not make it clean.

That aside, it's shocking to me that a death toll of greater than zero can be used to justify the safety of anything.

Unfortunately that's the way the world is. It doesn't work on absolutes. Statistically (so I've heard) plane travel is safer than travelling by car but people have died doing both. Yet we don't outlaw planes or cars because if nothing goes wrong they're both perfectly safe modes of transport and the benefits out weigh the deaths.

It's the same with nuclear power. If nothing goes wrong it's perfectly safe. It's just that when it does go wrong badly, the consequences are a lot worse than crashing an airliner full of people into a field (and not as environmentally friendly either).

Statistically more people have died in plane crashes than nuclear power plant meltdowns. So that makes nuclear power plants perfectly safe, right? Just so long as it's not anyone you know that died.

Sometimes this idea that something is safe based on statistical figures is just wrong if you're comparing lives lost.

Why does it make sense to build nuclear power plants that have the potential to wipe out entire regions if something goes wrong?

...and something will go wrong, as Japan shows. Maybe you can minimise human error but you can't minimise mother nature. Even if you plan for it, like Japan does.

Let's keep Australia Nuclear power free.


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