Over the years, many anti-nuclear activists bring up Chernobyl, Fukushima and Three Mile island as examples of the horrors of nuclear power. The problem that caused these accidents wasn’t an inherent danger in nuclear power but were caused by ignoring safety protocols and warnings in design flaws. Chernobyl was an experiment that was done in a poorly designed facility. They literally disabled the safety systems to run an experiment and, in their panic to restart the cooling system, caused two explosions and a fire. The Three Mile Island incident was due to a violation of NRC rules as employees had shut down all the valves to the backup pumps for maintenance. If this had not been done there would be no Three Mile Island accident. Finally, at Fukushima, corporate leaders were repeatedly told the wall protecting the backup generators were not high enough to protect from a large tsunami. They have been found guilty in court of negligence. But many peoples’ concern is the after-effects.
Three Mile Island studies have shown no increase in cancer rates. In Chernobyl, those exposed in the first few hours at the sight have died and there is an increase in thyroid cancers. However plants now show mutations only in five of the most contaminated areas. In the rest, wildlife is returning and despite the radiation show no visible signs of mutations. Studies are being done to see how life is adapting to the radiation. Chernobyl is now open to tourists and even though warned not to, people have started to move back into the area. Fukushima, farmers are raising cattle in some of the heaviest radiation areas and the government has now allowed them to once again start breading cattle, but they are not allowed to ship cows out of the area. They constantly monitor the animals, taking blood tests and samples for analysis. So far, none of the animals are showing any signs of genetic mutation. Yet anti-nuclear activists will tell you that these are all dead zones. But they aren’t; life continues and adapts. Considering the 50 years of civilian use of nuclear power, the record is still pretty good. As long as people follow the safety protocols and recommendations, then even with these older style reactors we can still have safe nuclear power. We can make nuclear power even safer by using what we’ve learned.