Nuclear Power: Dangerous, Dirty & Expensive- 20 Key Facts

Diablo Canyon Nuclear Power Plant

           The simple fact is that nuclear power is terribly dangerous.  From a health and safety standpoint, it is utterly irrational for us to continue to generate electricity by splitting the atom.  Nuclear power is unreasonably expensive.  When all of its costs are considered, it becomes clear that nuclear power is unaffordable.  Importantly, a reliance upon nuclear power impedes our efforts to develop and implement the production of electricity by safe, affordable, sustainable means, such as solar, wind, and geothermal.
            Here are twenty key facts about nuclear power.
            Also, I have included, below, links to some of the websites that provide extensive information about nuclear power.
            I hope you will check out the powerful video that is embedded, below.  It does an excellent job of summarizing the most serious problems with nuclear power, through excerpts of testimony by some of the nation’s most respected anti-nuclear experts, including Helen Caldicott, Michael Mariotte, and Harvey Wasserman.
            Also, you might want to check out the second video, with Jackson Browne, Bonnie Raitt, Keb’ Mo’, Graham Nash, and Ben Harper.  They do a very nice job, singing and speaking about several aspects of the nuclear power issue.
1)         Nuclear power plants release radiation into the atmosphere and into our waters.  If radiation could be seen or smelled, we would be more aware of this poisonous pollution, and we would be far more likely to ban nuclear power.
2)         Nuclear power is so dangerous, and is such a risky investment, that private investors will not provide the backing for it.  The only nukes that are currently being built, anywhere, are those where the government is operating the plants, as in France, or where there are huge public subsidies.  Nuclear power plants cost a fortune to build, to fuel, and to operate.  The insurance costs and the long-term waste storage costs are immense.
3)         President Obama is calling for an additional $36 billion dollars of taxpayer funding to support the construction of new nuclear power plants in the United States.
4)         We have no solution to the problem of storing the huge amounts of highly dangerous, long-lasting radioactive waste that nukes produce.  This needs to be safely stored for more than one hundred thousand years.
5)         We are currently temporarily storing more than 60,000 tons of high-level radioactive waste at reactor sites in the United States.
6)         Dr. Helen Caldicott has reported that, in Chernobyl, more than 20,000 people developed thyroid cancer and had to have their thyroids removed.
7)         There is still, in 2011, a 1,660 square-mile Exclusion Zone around the site of the Chernobyl disaster, twenty-five years after the accident.
8)         The New York Academy of Sciences has reported that approximately 985,000 people have died, as a result of the accident at Chernobyl.  The accident at Fukushima is potentially more serious than the one at Chernobyl.  We won’t know for decades how many people will have died from the cancer it will cause.
9)         Three GE engineering supervisors who helped design the Fukushima plants resigned because they felt that the plants were too dangerous.  They noted, “We could no longer justify devoting our life energies to the continued development and expansion of nuclear fission power- a system we believe to be so dangerous that it now threatens the very existence of life on this planet.”
10)       A nuclear reactor will often contain about 250 kilograms of plutonium.  It takes 2.5 kilograms of plutonium to make an atomic bomb.  It takes one millionth of a gram of plutonium, if inhaled, to cause cancer.
11)       When radioactive iodine, strontium, cesium, and tritium are released into the atmosphere, they are brought to the earth through rainfall.  They are then absorbed by the crops in our farmland, contaminating our food supply.
12)       Following the accident at Three Mile Island, Hershey’s had to stop using local milk in its milk chocolate, because the milk was too radioactive.
13)       Following the Three Mile Island accident, infant death rates increased dramatically in Pennsylvania’s nearby capital, Harrisburg.  About 2,400 families sued, based upon the health impacts, which included cancer, leukemia, birth defects, stillbirths, sterility, malformations, open lesions, and hair loss.  The Pennsylvania Department of Agriculture documented an increase in the death rate among farm animals and wild animals in the area surrounding the nuke.
14)       The Nuclear Regulatory Commission has never denied a license for a nuclear power plant.  To the contrary, it has approved an extension of the operating licenses of most of the U.S. nuclear plants, to sixty years, although they were built to operate for only forty years.  Extensions for 63 nukes were applied for, and all 63 were granted.
15)       The Price-Anderson Act recognizes the danger of nuclear power and limits the liability of the energy corporations if there is a catastrophic accident.  The taxpayer picks up the remainder of the bill.
16)       The production of electricity by nuclear power plants contributes to the proliferation of nuclear weapons.  Nuclear energy programs contributed to the development of nuclear weapons in France, India, Pakistan, and North Korea.  As other countries construct nuclear power plants, we face the risk that they, too, will develop nuclear weapons.
17)       Although the generation of electricity through nuclear reactions does not produce carbon emissions, reliance upon nuclear power does significantly contribute to the release of carbon into our atmosphere.  This is due to the substantial carbon emissions produced by the mining, transport, and processing of the fuel, as well as by the construction and decommissioning of the plant.  Nuclear power is not the solution to global warming.
            Currently available renewable energy and energy efficiency technologies are faster, cheaper, safer, and cleaner strategies for reducing greenhouse emissions.
18)       In 2008, nuclear reactors were projected to cost two to three billion dollars.  Currently, the estimated cost of constructing a new reactor is ten to eleven billion dollars.
19)       There are currently 104 nuclear power plants operating in the United States.  Many of  them are older than the nukes at Fukushima.  Twenty-three of them are GE Mark I reactors, virtually identical in design to Unit One at Fukushima.  These include the Indian Point Nuclear Power Plant, located near an earthquake fault line just twenty-five miles from New York City, and the Vermont Yankee nuke, also located near a fault line.
20)       The Senate is currently considering a bill, S512, which would require the federal government to pay 50% of the design cost for two new reactor designs, as well as 25% of the cost to get the designs licensed by the Nuclear Regulatory Commission.
            We can contact our members of Congress, urging them to deny any funding to the nuclear power industry and to begin a rapid, phased closing of all operating nuclear power plants.  The Congressional Switchboard can be reached at (202) 224-3121.  Senators can be reached at  Representatives can be reached at
            Here are links to some helpful websites.
Nuclear Information and Resource Service
Beyond Nuclear
Abolition 2000
Journalist Karl Grossman’s Blog
Dr. Helen Caldicott on Fukushima and Chernobyl
Dr. Helen Caldicott’s Website
“Carbon-Free and Nuclear-Free” Book Download (free) from IEER
NY Times Article: Nuclear Agency Is Criticized as Too Close to Its Industry
Rolling Stone Article: America’s Nuclear Nightmare
“Nuclear Power? Still, No Thanks!” on Peace and Justice Online
“Radioactive Waste? No Thanks!” on Peace and Justice Online
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20 Responses to Nuclear Power: Dangerous, Dirty & Expensive- 20 Key Facts

  1. Pingback: The History Of Nuclear Risk Coverup | Watching The World Think

  2. Pingback: 101 razones para decirle No a la Energía Nuclear…

  3. AMK says:

    I would like to signal the new book from Palgrave Macmillan USA


    This is an anti nuclear book

  4. Pingback: Duck, Cover, Kiss Your Butt Goodbye. Really! | The Wooly Yarn

  5. Pingback: Facts to share when discussing nuclear power « Radiation Truth

  6. Jorn Rash says:

    Thanks for the info.

    Of course Nuclear Power and other offshoots of the Nuclear Warfare Industry are dangerous.

    USA Radiation Plume Maps

    I am working on a new site I have created some radioactive plume maps based solely on wind. Working on more specific map methodology.

    These are existing plumes of radiation caused by “normal” releases. Please understand that depicting existing plume concentrations is extremely difficult.

    My methodology is outlined here

    Download Free Google Earth Nuclear Power Radiation Plume Maps


  7. John says:

    I’m glad i live right next to MA a state that is leading a way in alternative power though they too use nuclear frankly its not the nuclear power that disturbs me (the power of the atom is underniable) but the poor planning on the part of designers and engineers of where the plants are in relation to even remotely possible disasters through nature, and also the seemingly and correct me if iam wrong lack of updating and research into safety with nuclear power, also if we want alternative power we have to compromise if we want to move forward for example local native americans did not want wind farms built because they pray to their god and the wind mills would block their view now i totally sypathize and love native american culture but if everyone has a problem with everything then what gets done? nothing. i like how i put that =) hopefully ill live to see a united world where the pursuit of knowledge becomes more important to us than the pursuit of wealth. what is wealth anyways a stockpile of fucking pieces of metal and paper that say the government owes u some gold that in fact ull never even see its just asinine.

    • John,
      Thanks for commenting. I agree that there is poor planning regarding safety and location of the plants. I also think, however, that even if planning is improved, they are just too dangerous, even if they are situated in remote and seismically stable areas.
      Thanks again.
      Bob for Peace and Justice Online

  8. Pingback: Nuclear Power: Dangerous, Dirty & Expensive- 20 Key Facts (via Peace and Justice Online) « OntheWilderSide

  9. I AM TRUTH says:

    I really DO like your site and so glad you left a link at HP yesterday. I do have a little complaint – that you couldn’t be posting NEW posts everyday.
    Arnie has a new video up:
    The Implicatio­ns of the Fukushima Accident on the World’s Operating Reactors
    He focuses today on US PLANTS. “A Japan crisis could very well happen here” basically.
    Thanks again! I’ll be checking everyday!

  10. I AM TRUTH says:

    Thank you for stopping by at Huffington Post and leaving a link. Could you also help by posting this new petition by Lucas Whitefield just put up at Care2. Let’s make it go VIRAL!
    Reinstate EPA Ongoing Testing For Radiation from Fukushima

    Lucas Whitefield Website

  11. pendantry says: :
    “New nuclear build is uneconomic and unnecessary, so we need not debate whether it is also proliferative and dangerous. In a world of fallible and malicious people, it is actually both, but even after 60 years’ immense subsidies and devoted effort, nuclear power still cannot clear the first two hurdles—competitiveness and need. End of story.” Amory Lovins

    • Pendantry,
      Thanks for commenting. That’s a good quote.
      I thinks Lovins has a lot of important things to say about nuclear power. His above comment notwithstanding, he does also speak of the dangers and other problems with nuclear power.
      “Nuclear power is the only energy source where mishap or malice can kill so many people so far away; the only one whose ingredients can help make and hide nuclear bombs; the only climate solution that substitutes proliferation, accident, and high-level radioactive waste dangers. Indeed, nuclear plants are so slow and costly to build that they reduce and retard climate protection.”
      Thanks again.
      For Peace and Justice Online

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