10 Myth-Busting Truths About Nuclear Energy

10 Myth-Busting Truths About Nuclear Energy

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10 Myth-Busting Truths About Nuclear Energy

1. Nuclear energy is bad for the environment.

Truth: Nuclear reactors emit no greenhouse gases during operation. Over their full lifetimes, they result in comparable greenhouse gas emissions to renewable forms of energy such as wind and solar. In fact, solar panels and wind turbine blades cannot be recycled so they’re currently piling up in landfills, making them worse for the environment. Nuclear energy also requires less land use than most other forms of energy. The only minor negative impact on the environment is the small amount of radioactive waste it produces, which must be stored somewhere.

Nuclear energy is bad for the environment
Nuclear energy is bad for the environment

2. Nuclear energy is dangerous.

Truth: Nuclear energy is one of the safest forms of energy available. One recent study claimed that it is safer to work in a nuclear power plant than in an office. No member of the public has ever been killed in the history of commercial nuclear power in the U.S and Canada.

Nuclear energy is dangerous
Nuclear energy is dangerous

3. A nuclear reactor can explode like a nuclear bomb.

Truth: It is impossible for a reactor to explode like a nuclear weapon; these weapons contain particular materials in specific configurations, neither of which are present in a nuclear reactor.

A nuclear reactor can explode like a nuclear bomb
A nuclear reactor can explode like a nuclear bomb

4.  Nuclear energy produces a huge amount of waste and this can’t be generated.

Truth: Nuclear energy produces a very small amount of waste compared to other energy sources. In fact, all of the used nuclear fuel generated in every nuclear plant in the last 60 years would fill a football field to a depth of less than 10 meters. Additionally, unlike the emissions produced by fossil fuels, 96% of nuclear waste can be recycled. The rest can be contained in a secure storage facility.

Nuclear energy produces a huge amount of waste and this can’t be generated
Nuclear energy produces a huge amount of waste and this can’t be generated

5. Nuclear energy is very expensive.

Truth: Nuclear power is actually one of the least expensive energy sources. Natural gas and wind are twice as expensive, while solar power is nearly ten times as expensive to produce. Moreover, the cost of nuclear is more resillient to market fluctuations. Uranium makes up only 30% of the cost of nuclear power, so an increase in uranium prices would have only a small effect on the total price.

Nuclear energy is very expensive
Nuclear energy is very expensive

6. Nuclear reactors emit dangerous amounts of radiation.

Truth: Nuclear reactors produce extremely small amounts of radiation. If you live within 75 km of a nuclear power plant, you receive an average radiation dose of about 0.0001 millisieverts per year. Only 0.005% of an average American's yearly radiation dose comes from nuclear power; this is 100 times less than what we receive from coal, 200 times less than a cross-country flight, and about the same as eating 1 banana per year.

Nuclear reactors emit dangerous amounts of radiation
Nuclear reactors emit dangerous amounts of radiation

7. Nuclear waste cannot be safely transported.

Truth: Nowadays used fuel can be safely shipped by truck, rail, and cargo ship. To date, thousands of nuclear waste shipments have been transported with no leaks or cracks in the specially-designed storage casks.

Nuclear waste cannot be safely transported
Nuclear waste cannot be safely transported

8. Used nuclear fuel is deadly for 10,000 years.

Truth: Used nuclear fuel can be recycled to make new fuel and byproducts (see number 4). Most of the waste from this process will require a storage time of less than 300 years. At the end of the process, under 1% of nuclear waste is radioactive for 10,000 years. This portion can be easily shielded from humans and wildlife to protect them.

Used nuclear fuel is deadly for 10,000 years
Used nuclear fuel is deadly for 10,000 years

9. Nuclear energy is being phased out.

Truth: There are now 456 nuclear reactors in 31 countries, producing 14% of the world’s electricity. Another 55 reactors are currently under construction in 15 countries. Furthermore, new reactor technologies like small modular reactors (SMRs) are being developed, which will provide additional nuclear power options for a diverse range of countries around the world.

Nuclear energy is being phased out
Nuclear energy is being phased out

10. A “Chernobyl”-like accident would kill thousands of people.

Truth: A Chernobyl-like accident could never happen outside the Soviet Union, because this type of reactor was never built or operated in any other countries. The known fatalities during the Chernobyl accident were mostly emergency first responders.

A “Chernobyl”-like accident would kill thousands of people
A “Chernobyl”-like accident would kill thousands of people
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