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25 March 2011

How dangerous is nuclear power? Not very

Coal, oil and even solar power all kill more people than the much-maligned nuclear.

By Duncan Robinson

The continuing disaster at Fukushima and the upcoming 25th anniversary of the Chernobyl disaster has focused criticism on the safety of nuclear power. But how dangerous is nuclear energy?

Not very dangerous at all, is the answer. The following image (taken from here) shows the death rate of each energy source per watt produced.

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According to research produced here, for every terrawatt of energy produced, coal kills 161 people. Oil costs 36 lives for the same amount of energy. Nuclear, however, causes only 0.04 deaths per terrawatt produced.

To put it another way, for every person who dies as a result of nuclear power, 4,000 people die due to coal.