The Japanese earthquake, tsunami and subsequent nuclear power plant problems are doubtless a national tragedy. Most media coverage has focused on the possibility of a nuclear accident spreading radiation over vast areas causing sickness and death. Fear of the unknown is pervasive. The disasters were and are the real killers.
Look at some facts to put this into an American perspective.
The National Highway Safety Administration reports about 43,000 persons are killed each year in traffic accidents, another 2.9 million are injured.
Coal-powered plants account for about 10,000 deaths per year. It would take 25 nuclear plant meltdowns a year to equal coal’s effects, according to Dr. Bernard Cohen, professor, University of Pittsburgh. We have had no meltdowns. He also states if hydro dams in California were breached the death toll could reach 200,000.
Thousands of deaths from other natural and unnatural disasters – hurricanes, tornadoes, mine explosions, fires, etc. have been excluded from the death and injury totals.
My Health notes medical errors alone cause between 44,000 and 98,000 deaths each year. Wow.
Contrarily, Wikipedia article, “Nuclear and radiation accident” notes no nuclear workers or members of the people have died as a direct result of exposure to a commercial nuclear reactor incident — Three Mile Island included.
American nuclear power plants are the safest, most regulated, inspected and controlled power plants in the world — regardless of location. They are a vital energy source. Their risk, compared to other sources of injury and death to Americans, is miniscule.