A recent article In the Huffington Post noted that: “According to a recent report by the Union of Concerned Scientists, in 2010 alone, mechanical, electrical and human errors caused "near-misses" at reactors in Alabama, Arkansas, California, Florida, Illinois, Kansas, Maryland, Nebraska, North Carolina, Ohio, and Virginia. That list only includes events that caused plants to shut down, not "routine" safety concerns...”
Although there have been only 3 major accidents related to nuclear plants – the most destructive being that of Chernobyl - questions are being posed as to whether the effects of climate change and the resultant changes in weather patterns bodes ill for the future of nuclear energy. The earth is clearly in need of renewable, clean energy. However, this energy needs to be safe.
25 years after the disaster at Chernobyl, studies show that not only are those in the area at an increased risk for cancer, birth defects, genetic mutations and other illnesses, but that much of the land and water is still contaminated, and 97% of the radioactive material is still on site – located in what was meant to be an interim measure ‘sarcophagus’. Over 2000 towns and villages were bulldozed to the ground, displacing communities and eradicating livelihoods.
In view of this, it is natural to wonder why nuclear power with its potential pitfalls is still being pursued as a viable strategy across the world. As noted by David Kroodsma, a climate central data journalist, “before Fukushima, there were 443 functioning nuclear power plants in the world. About 62 were under construction, and another 324 were in various stages of planning”. 75% of the world’s nuclear energy output is concentrated in just 8 countries.
The benefit of an energy source without greenhouse gas emissions is beguiling, and the 13% -16% of global electricity that comes from nuclear power saves an estimated 2.5 billion tons of CO2 emissions a year.