Nuclear safety

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What does research say about the safety of nuclear power? The unpublished notebooks of J. M. Korhonen; 10 Mar 2017

I’ve been answering almost exactly the same answer to multiple discussions where people make claims about the safety of nuclear power, so I think it’s time to create a single post with collected information, links, and explanations. This is intended to be a living document, so please, if you have any suggestions about things to add or to remove, leave a comment!
As of 2017, the general results are clear: even and particularly when the entire lifecycle (uranium mining, accidents and nuclear waste included) is considered, nuclear energy is one of the safest energy sources ever employed by humans. There is no doubt whatsoever that even if we totally discount the risks of climate change, energy produced from nuclear power is responsible for very, very much less harm to people and the environment than similar amount of energy generated by any method that relies on burning something. This result is supported not only by mainstream science but also by research commissioned in 2013 by Friends of the Earth UK, and even Greenpeace tacitly agrees. Actual scientists are far more certain.
In the following, I’m ultimately going to break this argument into four sections: 1) overall studies, 2) mining, 3) normal operation and accidents, and 4) waste. As of now, sections 2 and 3 in particular are in dire need for more information.

Nuclear radiation *

operations / plant safety

I Work In A Nuclear Power Plant: 5 Insane Realities Ryan Menzies; Cracked; 8 Sep 2015

Thanks to the documentary The Simpsons, most of us think that nuclear power plants belch out poisonous gas, pour fish-mutating slime into our rivers, and are ready to melt down at the slightest provocation. We're barely exaggerating here -- multiple generations today owe all their knowledge on the subject to a wacky cartoon, and those fears might define the energy production of the world. We had a sneaking suspicion that there might be more going on behind the scenes at these plants, and infiltrating them to investigate probably isn't an option. So we talked to Alex, an engineer at a nuclear plant in the Midwest. He told us that ...

Nuclear power plants vulnerable to hacking attack in 'nightmare scenario', UN warns Ben Kentish; Independent; 16 Dec 2016

Experts fear 'Fukushima-style' disaster as terrorists use new technology to attempt attacks

reactor safety

Comparing Nuclear Accident Risks With Those From Other Energy Sources OECD Nuclear Energy Agency

Safety from Gen I to Gen III, defence in depth, estimation of risk probabilities

The Generation Game: Why Nuclear Energy Isn’t Getting Safer Duncan Gere; How We Get To Next; 4 Feb 2016

history of nuclear energy, generations of reactors, we are not building latest gen

Nuclear energy: safe, clean, nothing to fear despite fear-mongering American Council on Science and Health; 10 Aug 2015

criticises The Lancet for claiming that evidence from Hiroshima & Nagasaki is relevant to civilian nuclear accidents

Are Safer Reactors Possible? Charles Barton; The Energy Collective; 17 Jun 2011

tritium - and Canadian exposure - Plutonium, underground reactors, oklo

Fukushima *

Chernobyl *

post-Fukushima reactor safety improvements

Fukushima Response

Fukushima Five Years Later: SAFER Response Within 24 Hours to Any US Reactor 7 Mar 2016

Japan Lessons Learned NRC

On March 11, 2011, a 9.0-magnitude earthquake struck Japan and was followed by a 45-foot tsunami, resulting in extensive damage to the nuclear power reactors at the Fukushima Dai-ichi facility. The NRC has taken significant action to enhance the safety of reactors in the United States based on the lessons learned from this accident. This page is intended to serve as a navigation hub to follow the NRC's progress in implementing the many different lessons-learned activities.

Spain's post-Fukushima safety measures near completion

US Nuclear Energy Industry Even Safer Since Fukushima Nuclear Energy Institute; 1 Mar 2016

Leaders from the U.S. and Japanese nuclear energy industry last week detailed the many ways that safety has been enhanced in both countries in the five years since the March 2011 Fukushima Daiichi accident. The U.S. nuclear industry has invested more than $4 billion and devoted thousands of person-hours to put in place new responses to extreme events, Nuclear Energy Institute Chief Operating Officer Maria Korsnick said at an NEI-sponsored briefing, “Fukushima Daiichi Five Years Later: A Progress Report.”


Turkey Point: Miami’s oceanfront nuclear power plant is leaking


Atomic City Justin Nobel; Longreads; Sep 2017

At 9:01 p.m., on January 3, 1961, a nuclear reactor the size of a small grain silo exploded in the Lost River desert. All three men inside the Stationary Low-Power Plant Number 1, or SL-1, were killed. To this day, they are among the only recorded nuclear fatalities ever to occur on U.S. soil. Even in the wake of Japan’s Fukushima nuclear meltdown, in March 2011, no one in the mainstream media mentioned the SL-1 disaster. The tsunami that caused Japan’s meltdown was viewed as something unpredictable, a result of poorly understood plate tectonics and mercurial seas, while the meltdown itself was perceived otherwise. It could have been prevented, said experts, with better safety protocols. Had anyone remembered SL-1, perhaps the conversation would have been different.


'Prolonged and repeated failure' led to workers being irradiated at Trident nuclear submarine base, MoD report finds

TRIDENT submariners were guilty of a “prolonged and repeated failure” which resulted in 20 workers being exposed to radiation at the Faslane nuclear base, according to an internal investigation by the Ministry of Defence (MoD). The damning indictment is published in MoD documents seen by the Sunday Herald that also expose a series of radiation blunders on Trident submarines docked at the Clyde naval port. They reveal how safety procedures were flouted when visitors were not given radiation badges, a contaminated sponge was taken from a submarine, and another worker was irradiated. The documents, just released a full two years after a Freedom of Information request, conclude that submariners showed a “lack of understanding of the magnitude of the hazards”.