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Safety protocols for nuclear power!

  1. Oct 10, 2008 #1
    are the safety protocols in place in setablishments dealing with fissionable material adequate for public safety?
    is there any good places to get more information on why the safety isn't good enough?
  2. jcsd
  3. Oct 10, 2008 #2


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    Staff: Mentor

    I would tend to use history as a guide. We have had nuclear wepons and power for 60+ years. So what does the scoreboard have to say in response to your questions? In short:

    Nuclear power has never killed anyone not associated with the industry in the US.

    On my scorecard, that's a perfect game.
  4. Oct 11, 2008 #3


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    As far as I know yes. I have been in all the commercial manufacturing facilities in US and several in Europe, have handled a lot of nuclear material, and I have observed the controls to be adequate. The NRC would be the place to find reports on the safety of nuclear factilities. I have also been to various operating nuclear power plants, and they take theire work very seriously, and they also have adequate controls/protocols on the handling of nuclear material to ensure public safety.

    Keep in mind that the military nuclear program is completely separate from the civilian commercial program. The institutions responsible for the military program also have had a good track record of maintaing safety. There were questionable practices at the Rocky Flats Plant north of Denver, but that has been closed and decommissioned.

  5. Oct 13, 2008 #4
    More importantly, I would imagine that the number of fatalities caused by nuclear material as a percentage of those in the nuclear industry is one of the smallest, compared to other industries.
  6. Oct 14, 2008 #5


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    The problem lies in your "adequate". What's adequate ? Perfect safety ? 100% guarantee that never anything will ever happen ? As Russ pointed out, that's almost the case in the Western nuclear industry in recent times (I'm not talking about the pioneering years).

    However, asking for perfection is the best way to get nowhere. So what is "adequate" ? A more reasonable answer to that question is rather: what do we ACCEPT as "adequate" in other activities ? What do we NOT consider as a national or world crisis because of the inadequacy of the safety ? What choices do we make, ourselves, which indicate what we consider adequate safety ?

    Now, when you look at airplane traffic, at car traffic, at chemical industry, at sports activities, at most professional activities, then you will see that the *actual risk* (that is the average number of victims over a long period of time) of these activities surpasses by several orders of magnitude the risk associated with nuclear practices. So unless the advantages of nuclear practices are orders of magnitude less than those of, say, scuba diving, then by all reasonable standards, nuclear practices have adequate safety.

    Otherwise, it would mean that one has "standards of safety" which are totally different for many human activities on one hand, and nuclear practices on the other, which doesn't make any sense. You cannot accept activities which kill millions of people on one hand as "adequately safe" and at the same time consider activities where the casualties can be counted on one hand as having inadequate safety.

    If you fight inadequate safety, you should start by those activities that generate most victims first. And if you want to cut down on those until you reach nuclear practices, well, then we're living in caves again, because we have to stop with 99.9% of all our civilized activities.
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