March 21, 2011

1 in 74,176 Chance, . . . Nuclear Risks, Costs, Benefits

1 in 74,176 Chance, . . . Nuclear Risks, Costs, Benefits

The epic tragedy unfolding in Japan is heating up the debate on nuclear power. What will this mean for the future of nuclear worldwide and in the US? There are significant risks, costs, and benefits. 

Does 1 in 74,176 sound like good odds?  I’m really not sure.

Bill Dedman, of msnbc.com, writes that the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission has calculated the odds of an earthquake causing catastrophic failure to a nuclear plant and at the typical nuclear reactor in the U.S., “there’s a 1 in 74,176 chance that the core could be damaged by an earthquake, exposing the public to radiation. That’s 10 times more likely than you winning $10,000 by buying a ticket in the Powerball multistate lottery, where the chance is 1 in 723,145.”

What does nuclear power cost? Does $100+ per MWh cover the costs? (more…)

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