Comparing the safety of nuclear power, oil, and coal, Slate columnist William Saletan helps us make some energy policy decisions.
His focus is fatalities. In the oil supply chain, from 1969-2000, he cites 20,000 deaths. For coal, the number is 15,000 (although he does not state the time period). By contrast, except for Chernobyl, deaths from nuclear power accidents total zero. In the article, he does not talk about natural gas.
His conclusion? Nuclear power is relatively safe. Yes, Congress should look at how to make it safer but then, we should not prohibit construction.
The Economic Lesson
Totaling close to 80% of all energy sources in 2009, oil, coal, and natural gas provide most of the energy supply that we consume in the U.S. On this graph, nuclear power has an 8.3% slice.
What are the “demand sectors?” Transportation, industrial, residential and commercial, electric power.