Although Chernobyl blemished the image of nuclear energy, the accident's positive legacy is an even stronger system of nuclear safety worldwide. In 1989, the nuclear industry established the World Association of Nuclear Operators (WANO) to foster a global nuclear safety culture. Through private-sector diplomacy, WANO has built a transnational network of technical exchange that includes all countries with nuclear power. Today every nuclear power reactor in the world is part of the WANO system of operational peer review. The aim of WANO's peer-review system standards set by the UN's International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA).


It is worthwhile visiting this nuclear safety information from the World Nuclear Association, which provides extensive detail on the whole area of nuclear safety.


Advances in safety practice are unmistakable. At most plants worldwide, reportable safety-related 'events' are now near zero. National and international insurance laws assign responsibility to nuclear plant operators. In the U.S. for example, reactor operators share in a 'pooled' private insurance system that has never cost taxpayers a cent.


Today, nuclear power plants have a superb safety record - both for plant workers and the public. In the transport of nuclear material, highly engineered containers - capable of withstanding enormous impact - are the industrial norm. More than 20,000 containers of spent fuel and high-level waste have been shipped safely over a total distance exceeding 30 million kilometres. During the transport of these and other radioactive substances - whether for research, medicine or energy- there had never been a harmful radioactive release.


Radiation is released naturally from the ground and atmosphere in all places on Earth. This 'natural background' radiation, which varies considerably from region to region, is part of the environment to which all human beings are conditioned. Like many things, radiation can be both beneficial and harmful. Large doses are dangerous. Abundant evidence indicates that small doses are harmless.


The radiation produced within the core of nuclear reactors is similar to natural radiation but more intense. At nuclear power plants, protective shielding isolates this radiation, allowing millions of people to live safely nearby. Typically, the radiation people receive comes 85% from nature and 15% from medical exposures. Radiation exposure from nuclear power is negligible.



The table below is from a 2008 International Disaster and Risk Conference and shows how there has never been a civilian fatality in an OECD nuclear power plant. It shows that, even accounting for the terrible accident at Chernobyl and the Three Mile Island accident, nuclear energy has had the fewest accidents and fatalities of any of the major power generating technologies.

 

Quick references



Advantages of nuclear


Find out more about the advantages of nuclear power in Ireland:

Nuclear is the cheapest

Nuclear is the cleanest

Nuclear power is the safest electricity

New nuclear power is ideal for Ireland


Supporters of nuclear in Ireland

Many Irish organisations have called for nuclear power to be considered here. (These links to external sites open in a new window).

ESB

EirGrid

Forfas

Irish Academy of Engineering

ICTU

IBEC


Political supporters of a debate


Calls for a national nuclear debate have come from (external sites open in a new window):

Minister for Energy, Eamon Ryan

Dáil Joint C’tee on Climate Change


Exploded myths about nuclear


These facts may surprise you:

Reactors would fit the Irish grid

There is a solution for nuclear waste

We can afford nuclear power

Nuclear fuel is plentiful


Other information


General items of interest about nuclear:

Types of reactors

History of nuclear power

SMR - a suitable reactor for Ireland

Nuclear power is illegal in Ireland

Can we not just use Renewables?

Hydrogen - fuel of the future?

Who is BENE?

I want to be a Supporter

The situation at Fukushima, Japan.

Three damaged reactors at Fukushima Daiichi experienced partial meltdowns but have been in a state of cold shutdown since late 2011. There have been no radiation-induced deaths to workers or members of the public as a result of this calamity, and none are expected in the future. Some relatively minor exposures occurred to some workers at the site during the early stages of the cleanup, but none of these are expected to be life-threatening. Some reactors have been restarted in Japan following inspection and more are expected to follow.


Evacuation zones surrounding Fukushima continue to shrink. From August 2012, people have been allowed return to work and visit in areas as close as 13 kilometers (8 miles) from the plant without monitoring or protective clothing, although they cannot remain there overnight. These areas did not suffer any serious radioactive contamination, but were devastated by the earthquake and subsequent tsunami.


Thankfully, this is pretty much as we anticipated at the time of the incident (copied below in orange) and shows that the hysterical predictions of some anti-nuclear campaigners were way off the mark.


Our entry from March 2011: It is not easy for some to get accurate and up-to-date information on the effects of the earthquake and tsunami on the 10 nuclear power units at Fukushima. We remain hopeful that the eventual impact of the incident will be primarily economic and not health-related. In the meantime, these websites provide more current updates on the situation than we could and the information is in plain english. International Atomic Energy Association, Brave New Climate simple explanation and World Nuclear News. You could also listen to our Frank Turvey on Dublin South FM’s Red Shift show from 16 March, 2011.