Nuclear energy still one of safest power forms

Freedom New Mexico

Americans need electricity. But when a modern source of it threatens humans and wildlife, it is time to reassess how much risk we’ll accept for voltage. Is an abundant and sustainable source of electricity worth the risks?

To date, no American has been killed by commercial nuclear power — a fact confirmed by the extensive research of Politifact.com. No other source of electricity in the United States has proved anywhere near that safe.

Speaking with Andrew Marsh, an economist with the Bureau of Labor Statistics, Politifact found that 13 Americans have been killed by hydroelectric power generation since 2003. Fossil-fuel plants have killed 23 Americans since 2003. Then there are windmills, which provide 2 percent of the country’s electricity at most. The harmless-looking turbine blades we see along rural highways are behemoths that spin at up to 179 mph, hundreds of feet in the air. They kill up to 275,000 birds each year in the United States. A study in 2008 found that the Altamont Pass wind farm, near Oakland, hacks 80 golden eagles to death each year. That’s 100 times more birds than are killed each year by all of ExxonMobil’s open oil and wastewater storage facilities.

Turbines also kill humans. The Caithness Windfarm Information Forum, dedicated to “protecting our environment,” found that wind turbine incidents had directly killed 52 humans in Europe as of Dec. 31, 2010.

In Monday’s Wall Street Journal, author William Tucker explained in detail the relatively benign nature of any threats posed by Japan’s post-earthquake nuclear problems. Even a full meltdown would be contained, he wrote, posing no substantial threat to the public.

“With all the death, devastation and disease now threatening tens of thousands in Japan, it is trivializing and almost obscene to spend so much time worrying about damage to a nuclear reactor,” Tucker wrote. “What the Japanese earthquake has proved is that even the oldest containment structures can withstand the impact of one of the largest earthquakes in recorded history.”

Nuclear power has proved itself among the safest sources of power in the world. Let’s not let media hysteria, in the wake of an extraordinary natural disaster, set the United States back again in its quest to develop sensible sources of power that our electric cars will need.