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Small Modular Reactors for Nuclear Power: Hope or Mirage?

Image of SMR proposed in Korea.

Supporters of nuclear power hope that small nuclear reactors, unlike large  plants, will be able to compete economically with other sources of electricity. But according to M.V. Ramana, a Professor at the University of British Columbia, this is likely to be a vain hope. In fact, according to Ramana, in the absence of a mass market, they may be even more expensive than large plants.

In October 2017, just after Puerto Rico was battered by Hurricane Maria, US Secretary of Energy Rick Perry asked the audience at a conference on clean energy
in Washington, D.C.: “Wouldn’t it make abundant good sense if we had small modular reactors that literally you could put in the back of a C-17, transport to an area like Puerto Rico, push it out the back end, crank it up and plug it in? … It could serve hundreds of thousands”.

As exemplified by Secretary Perry’s remarks, small modular reactors (SMRs) have been suggested as a way to supply electricity for communities that inhabit islands or in other remote locations.

In the past decade, wind and solar energy have become significantly cheaper than nuclear power

More generally, many nuclear advocates have suggested that SMRs can deal with all the problems confronting nuclear power, including unfavorable economics, risk of severe accidents, disposing of radioactive waste and the linkage with weapons proliferation. Of these, the key problem responsible for the present status of nuclear energy has been its inability to compete economically with other sources of electricity. As a result, the share of global electricity generated by nuclear power has dropped from 17.5% in 1996 to 10.5% in 2016 and is expected to continue falling.

Still expensive

The inability of nuclear power to compete economically results from two related problems. The first problem is that building a nuclear reactor requires high levels of capital, well beyond the financial capacity of a typical electricity utility, or a small country. This is less difficult for state- owned entities in large countries like China and India, but it does limit how much nuclear power even they can install.

The second problem is that, largely because of high construction costs, nuclear energy is expensive. Electricity from fossil fuels, such as coal and natural gas, has been cheaper historically ‒ especially when costs of natural gas have been low, and no price is imposed on carbon. But, in the past decade, wind and solar energy, which do not emit carbon dioxide either, have become significantly cheaper than nuclear power. As a result, installed renewables have grown tremendously, in drastic contrast to nuclear energy.

How are SMRs supposed to change this picture? As
the name suggests, SMRs produce smaller amounts of electricity compared to currently common nuclear power reactors. A smaller reactor is expected to cost less to
build. This allows, in principle, smaller private utilities and countries with smaller GDPs to invest in nuclear power. While this may help deal with the first problem, it actually worsens the second problem because small reactors lose out on economies of scale. Larger reactors are cheaper
on a per megawatt basis because their material and work requirements do not scale linearly with generation capacity.

“The problem I have with SMRs is not the technology, it’s not the deployment ‒ it’s that there’s no customers”

SMR proponents argue that they can make up for the lost economies of scale by savings through mass manufacture in factories and resultant learning. But, to achieve such savings, these reactors have to be manufactured by the thousands, even under very optimistic assumptions about rates of learning. Rates of learning in nuclear power plant manufacturing have been extremely low; indeed, in both the United States and France, the two countries with the highest number of nuclear plants, costs rose with construction experience.

Ahead of the market

For high learning rates to be achieved, there must 
be a standardized reactor built in large quantities. Currently dozens of SMR designs are at various stages of development; it is very unlikely that one, or even a few designs, will be chosen by different countries and private entities, discarding the vast majority of designs that are currently being invested in. All of these unlikely occurrences must materialize if small reactors are to become competitive with large nuclear power plants, which are themselves not competitive.

There is a further hurdle to be overcome before these large numbers of SMRs can be built. For a company to invest
in a factory to manufacture reactors, it would have to be confident that there is a market for them. This has not been the case and hence no company has invested large sums of its own money to commercialize SMRs.

An example is the Westinghouse Electric Company, which worked on two SMR designs, and tried to get funding from the US Department of Energy (DOE). When it failed in that effort, Westinghouse stopped working on SMRs and decided to focus its efforts on marketing the AP1000 reactor and the decommissioning business. Explaining this decision, Danny Roderick, then president and CEO of Westinghouse, announced: “The problem I have with SMRs is not the technology, it’s not the deployment ‒ it’s that there’s no customers. … The worst thing to do is get ahead of the market”.

Delayed commercialization

Given this state of affairs, it should not be surprising that
 no SMR has been commercialized. Timelines have been routinely set back. In 2001, for example, a DOE report on prevalent SMR designs concluded that “the most technically mature small modular reactor (SMR) designs and concepts have the potential to be economical and could be made available for deployment before the end of the decade provided that certain technical and licensing issues are addressed”. Nothing of that sort happened; there is no SMR design available for deployment in the United States so far.

There are simply not enough remote communities, with adequate purchasing capacity, to be able to make it financially viable to manufacture SMRs by the thousands

Similar delays have been experienced in other countries too. In Russia, the first SMR that is expected to be deployed is the KLT-40S, which is based on the design of reactors used in the small fleet of nuclear-powered icebreakers that Russia has operated for decades. This programme, too, has been delayed by more than a decade and the estimated costs have ballooned.

South Korea even licensed an SMR for construction in
2012 but no utility has been interested in constructing one, most likely because of the realization that the reactor is too expensive on a per-unit generating-capacity basis. Even the World Nuclear Association stated: “KAERI planned to build a 90 MWe demonstration plant to operate from 2017, but this is not practical or economic in South Korea” (my emphasis).

Likewise, China is building one twin-reactor high- temperature demonstration SMR and some SMR feasibility studies are underway, but plans for 18 additional SMRs have been “dropped” according to the World Nuclear Association, in part because the estimated cost of generating electricity is significantly higher than the generation cost at standard-sized light-water reactors.

No real market demand

On the demand side, many developing countries claim to be interested in SMRs but few seem to be willing to invest in the construction of one. Although many agreements and memoranda of understanding have been signed, there are still no plans for actual construction. Good examples are the cases of Jordan, Ghana and Indonesia, all of which have been touted as promising markets for SMRs, but none of which are buying one.

Neither nuclear reactor companies, 
nor any governments that back nuclear power, are willing to spend the hundreds of millions, if not a few billions, of dollars to set up SMRs just so that these small and remote communities will have nuclear electricity

Another potential market that is often proffered as a reason for developing SMRs is small and remote communities. There again, the problem is one of numbers. There are simply not enough remote communities, with adequate purchasing capacity, to be able to make it financially viable to manufacture SMRs by the thousands so as to make them competitive with large reactors, let alone other sources of power. Neither nuclear reactor companies, 
nor any governments that back nuclear power, are willing to spend the hundreds of millions, if not a few billions, of dollars to set up SMRs just so that these small and remote communities will have nuclear electricity.

Meanwhile, other sources of electricity supply, in particular combinations of renewables and storage technologies such as batteries, are fast becoming cheaper. It is likely that they will become cheap enough to produce reliable and affordable electricity, even for these remote and small communities ‒ never mind larger, grid- connected areas ‒ well before SMRs are deployable, let alone economically competitive.

Editor’s note:

Prof. M. V. Ramana is Simons Chair in Disarmament, Global and Human Security at the Liu Institute for Global Issues, as part of the School of Public Policy and Global Affairs at the University of British Columbia, Vancouver.  This article was first published in National University of Singapore Energy Studies Institute Bulletin, Vol.10, Issue 6, Dec. 2017, and is republished here with permission.

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Recent Comments

Gerry Runte's picture
Gerry Runte on February 21, 2018

Pretty compelling case for “mirage.”

Nathan Wilson's picture
Nathan Wilson on February 21, 2018

This pessimistic assessment of SMRs (and nuclear in general) is totally irrational when viewed in light of the recent US experience with windpower.

The state of Texas alone has managed to pump a staggering $38B into their wind industry. Making matters worse, the wind energy produced costs more than the fossil fuel energy it displaces (given that the existing fossil fleet is a sunken cost). This huge investment, by the arguments of this article, should not have been affordable to even the jumbo Texas-sized utilities, but some how, they managed to avoid bankruptcy.

It should come as no surprise that there are three super important factors which allow such an implausible industry to thrive:
– extremely supportive government policy, include subsidies and accelerated depreciation which cover most of the cost.
– a supplier base and workforce which have recent experience producing plants which are similar if not identical to projects being bid today.
– prospects to earn future business based on success with today’s projects.

We should also mention that nuclear plants, at least the large ones, uses an order of magnitude less concrete and steel than a set of windfarms with the same lifetime energy output.

So clearly, we have every reason to believe that if the above three conditions are met, the US nuclear industry can thrive once again. Although, as the article points out, large nuclear plant are likely more cost effective where they fit; so we can actually expect a healthy nuclear industry to install a mix of reactor sizes, weighted more heavily towards large ones (although utilities did invest in less cost effective small windfarms in early years, to build experience).

Also, given that the article lead with traditional anti-nuclear arguments (“risk of severe accidents, disposing of radioactive waste and the linkage with weapons proliferation”), it’s worth saying again that these arguments have never matched realty. Anti-nuclearism has never made our energy system safer, and has always lead to more fossil fuel use, more air pollution, more harm to human health, and more CO2 emissions (see recent examples in California and Vermont, where closing nuclear plants helps sell more fossil gas). It’s well past time we in the pro-environment community reject it as the anti-environment policy that it is.

Bas Gresnigt's picture
Bas Gresnigt on February 22, 2018

Compare the long road of wind turbines:
More than 100,000 produced during 4 decades before they gradually became competitive.
PV-solar panels even have a longer history with higher levels of mass production.

And both are still more than a decade away from the point that the yearly costs decline becomes marginal….

Bas Gresnigt's picture
Bas Gresnigt on February 22, 2018

….nuclear plants, at least the large ones, uses an order of magnitude less concrete and steel than a set of windfarms with the same lifetime energy output.

Seems an assumption to me. Didn’t see any real study with that outcome (an order of magnitude).

Anyway, the emissions (and costs) of the nuclear workforce (including employees at the uranium mines, factories, waste stores, maintenance staff, etc) per KWh produced are far bigger!*)
The emissions of new nuclear, ~130gCO2/KWh, are in line with that.

Why should anybody take the additional risks of nuclear as renewable are much cheaper, emit less GHG’s, and are much faster to implement?
And they even increase supply reliability as shown in Germany and Denmark!
________
*) NPP’s have roughly one full time worker per 2MW capacity + the workers at uranium mines, enrichment, fuel rod production plants, etc..
Modern wind turbines need one maintenance visit in 2 years which takes ~half a day by 2 men…

Mark Heslep's picture
Mark Heslep on February 22, 2018

Great points Nathan.

James Hopf's picture
James Hopf on February 22, 2018

“many nuclear advocates have suggested that SMRs can deal with all the problems confronting nuclear power, including unfavorable economics, risk of severe accidents, disposing of radioactive waste and the linkage with weapons proliferation”

While SMRs are inherently dramatically superior with respect to accident risk and potential release, they will not help with the “problems” of waste and proliferation (not LWR SMRs, anyway) and few people are really claiming that they would. But those waste and proliferation “problems” are phony and don’t require any “solution”. Nuclear already has negligible proliferation impact and the long term risks/impacts from its waste stream are already far *smaller* than those of other energy sources.

But, as the article says, the only real problem is economics. The author doubts that scale of production will grow enough to yield reduced costs. It may be true that large-scale assembly line production, by itself, will not yield sufficient cost reduction. But he’s missing the main avenue by which the SMR approach *could* result in economic competitiveness. That is, taking deserved credit for SMRs’ inherent, dramatically reduced level of hazard, and regulating them accordingly.

SMRs remove the main mechanism by which meltdowns can occur (inability to get rid of decay in after a loss of offsite power). Developers have stated that all (active?) components could fail and a meltdown would still not result. And even if a meltdown were to somehow (non-mechanistically?) occur, the potential release is so small that radiation levels above the range of natural background would not occur anywhere outside the plant site boundary. The bottom line is that SMRs are simply incapable of harming anyone, and they should be regulated accordingly.

Excessive and ever-increasing regulations and standard-of-perfection fab QA requirements (unique to nuclear) are the primary reason for nuclear’s current high costs, as evidenced by the fact that nuclear used to be built at ~1/3 the cost, many decades ago. (It’s not like nuclear can’t be inexpensive, it WAS.) SMRs offer the justification for doing away with all those excessive requirements. That would be the primary means by which their costs would fall. That along with experience in fabricating large numbers of carbon copies, by a dedicated, centralized construction facility (assembly line) staff.

James Hopf's picture
James Hopf on February 22, 2018

Another point the author makes is that there is a lack of interest of market for SMRs, and that therefore sufficient scale of production will not be reached. Upon examination, however, this is a case of nuclear’s main problem being a lack of political support, vs. any objective or technical lack of merit.

As we all know, solar and wind were heavily subsidized for decades (as even Bas points out below) and then there were outright mandates for large amounts of renewables use (regardless of cost) on top of that. After decades of such massive support, and guarantees of large markets, the cost of renewables has finally come down (although those quoted low costs still ignore costs associated with grid requirements and intermittentcy).

Well gosh, imagine if SMRs had that level of govt./political support. Would pretty much eliminate the author’s concern about insufficient demand/markets for SMRs, now wouldn’t it. And again, there is the lack of govt support in the form of utterly excessive regulations and requirements (which seem almost designed to deliberately hold nuclear back and make it expensive). How economic would wind be if it had to provide absolute proof that it will never kill a *single* bird?

SMRs may not be as successful as renewables because they are not politically supported the way renewables are, period. Lack of political/public support, and policies that treat nuclear fairly, has always been nuclear’s actual main problem. High costs are a *symptom* of that problem. The industry should spend less time developing new and “better” reactor technology (which attempts to meet the standards of perfection that are imposed on nuclear only), and spend more time an money on finding better ways to wield political influence and communicate with the public.

Nathan Wilson's picture
Nathan Wilson on February 22, 2018

As to the concrete and steel required for nuclear plant construction, this report from UC Berkeley shows that even though Gen III reactors use more than reactors from the 1970s, they are still better by an order of magnitude than modern wind farms. Costs that don’t result from material inputs are the easiest to get rid of; nuclear has great potential.

Bas, regarding your calculation of the life-cycle CO2 emissions of nuclear power, as we have discussed in the past, your numbers are drastically different than those from the US DOE and other reputable sources (who all say nuclear’s emissions are similar to wind, and much better than German PV).

I believe that we as “citizen scientists” have an obligation to respect the opinions of the experts when those opinions are supported by consistent and reproducible data and methods.

Have you discovered some flaw in the calculations by the experts? If so, why have they be reluctant to come around to your way of thinking? Massive conspiracies are theoretically possible, but it’s much more likely you’re simply wrong, especially your given your obvious extreme bias against all things nuclear.

Michael Keller's picture
Michael Keller on February 22, 2018

The production cost ($/MWh) of gas turbines get higher as the units get smaller, and these machines are essentially mass produced. Ditto for the unit capital cost ($/kW).
There is no logical reason to believe small reactors will deviate from this pattern, particularly when considering the small reactors are less efficient than their larger cousins.
The underlying assumption that SMR’s can produce power more cheaply than their big cousins is not supported by actual experience in the power industry.
In my view, advanced reactors need to leap well past the technology of water reactors, otherwise they will not be able to compete in regions with access to relatively inexpensive natural gas. That is exactly the situation in the US.

That being said, renewable energy does demonstrate what can occur when the government heavily subsidizes a technology that simply cannot compete. I do not believe nuclear energy should follow the same dismal economic approach.

Bas Gresnigt's picture
Bas Gresnigt on February 23, 2018

Your Berkely report is from Feb.2005 and states in the summary:

This suggests that new Generation III+ nuclear power construction in the U.S. will have substantially lower capital costs than was found with Generation III LWRs.

which was one of the assumptions behind the then promoted nuclear renaissance. We all know now that the opposite is true.

It’s a report filled with, then may be logical but now clearly faulty, assumptions. So it’s not strange that it’s not published in a scientific journal and not included in e.g. the 2008 Lenzen review.

The report tries to compare different nuclear technologies (ABWR, ESBWR, EPR, GT-MHR, PBMR, AHTR, etc.) which near all were only design ideas at that time. The conclusion starts with:

The material input comparison among various nuclear power conversion systems provides a useful, if qualitative, measure …

Wind is only stated shortly with some ridiculous high numbers, without substantiation, which would make wind nn times more expensive than nuclear….

The 2008 Lenzen review concluded to 65g/KWh based on ~100 referred studies from 1975-2006. Which conclusion was accepted without adaptation by James Hansen etal in his 2013 article.
However James Hansen etal should have adapted that number as it was in 2012/2013 already clear that new nuclear was much more expensive, hence much more labor & material, than in 2007/2008 assumed.

Now we know that new nuclear cost roughly twice the costs assumed in 2007/2008 hence emissions are also twice the then concluded amount.

So emissions of new nuclear are ~130g/KWh.

Which fits with an official French paper I read.

Bas Gresnigt's picture
Bas Gresnigt on February 23, 2018

The bottom line is that SMRs are simply incapable of harming anyone…

That was roughly the old statement of nuclear before the accidents.
Even normal operating NPP’s cause significant genetic damage to newborn in their surroundings up to ~40km away…
Can you explain how SMR’s don’t?

Would be interesting since even a nuclear waste site, which stores waste in dry casks which themselves are stored in building with thick walls, create such genetic damage.
So much that German govt closed its primary nuclear waste site ‘Gorleben’ while the huge building to store the dry casks was still 70% empty..

Bob Meinetz's picture
Bob Meinetz on February 23, 2018

Michael, nuclear will never “compete” if we’re accepting the myth that electricity generation is a competitive enterprise. Because if consumers really do have the ultimate say over what will generate our electricity, we’re screwed.

Consumers, as a whole, are uninterested in investing in a plant which will still be delivering clean electricity 80 years from now, any more than they’re willing to shell out hard cash to solve climate change. That’s why we need a responsible government to see the big picture, to step in and help.

If consumers were willing to invest in merchandise which lasted 80 years, Wal-Mart wouldn’t be raking in $800 billion in revenue each year.

greggerritt greggerritt's picture
greggerritt greggerritt on February 23, 2018

Incapable of harming anyone is one thing I would love to see you back uyp, and get the insurance to prove it.

Bob Meinetz's picture
Bob Meinetz on February 23, 2018

Bas, you have exactly one source for your repeated claim nuclear power plants “cause significant genetic damage” – Hagen Scherb, a qualification-free, self-appointed “statistician/mathematician”, who also happens to be a virulent antinuclear activist.

Certainly you can understand why readers might be skeptical of this source – do you have any others to back it up?

John Oneill's picture
John Oneill on February 26, 2018

‘Now we know that new nuclear cost roughly twice the costs assumed in 2007/2008 hence emissions are also twice the then concluded amount.’
Costs do not necessarily equate to emissions. If a large part of the increased costs was due to delays, the workers waiting around for something to do weren’t making any extra CO2. Increased engineering costs, to meet the aircraft impact rule imposed after the projects had already been started, burnt no oil. Legal fees for delaying court actions had no direct emissions associated. The main cause for increased emissions is that every day’s delay in starting up the reactor means another hundred railway wagons of coal are burnt instead. If you cancelled the whole project, you’d save further building costs, but those emissions would continue largely unabated – there is no wind power in South Carolina and very little in Georgia, and solar there is more intermittent and unreliable than in the South West.

John Oneill's picture
John Oneill on February 26, 2018

These guys seem happy to provide insurance for nuclear –
‘American Nuclear Insurers was founded more than 60 years ago to provide insurance to the then emerging US nuclear power industry.’
https://www.amnucins.com/
It’s very hard to prove a negative, but the court cases of crew on the USS Ronald Reagan, who sued for a variety of ailments allegedly brought on by Fukushima, have been dismissed. Bas is very keen on his studies which claim distortions of the sex ratio of babies born near nuclear plants. There is a widespread rumour in aviation circles that pilots have more daughters than sons, so maybe we should ban flying while we’re at it.

Bas Gresnigt's picture
Bas Gresnigt on February 26, 2018

Costs equate emissions with non-fossil electricity production methods!

The workers waiting due to delays get paid and use those payments for products and services which emit the usual CO2 per $ paid. Just as the investors who are paid more interest, etc.

Increased engineering costs implies engineers get more money which they spend, which implies the usual amount of emissions…
Same regarding legal fees, etc.

No wind & solar (power)??
Nowadays main producers, such as Vestas, have wind turbines tailored for areas with little wind. So Gemany adapted its rules such that the south will generate an ‘equal’ share despite being an area with little wind.

While Germany has far less solar, solar produce 6% of its electricity while the country continues to expand that with 1 – 3GW/a (German grid is ~70GW).

Bas Gresnigt's picture
Bas Gresnigt on February 26, 2018

Before German govt decided to close its prime nuclear waste store (Gorleben) prematurely (which destroyed major investment), the involved state asked two pro-nuclear scientists (who were convinced that the results of Scherb etal were fake or an anomaly) to execute a due diligence study.

Those scientists, I remember the name Hoopmann, expanded the researched area but then found, to their horror, even worse genetic damage…
After a conference with all involved, govt had no choice than closing because of the genetic damage shown by the two studies.

I’m now travelling without laptop so don’t have the links but you can find them easily.

Bas Gresnigt's picture
Bas Gresnigt on February 26, 2018

John,
Your statement regarding that rumour under pilots is wrong as increased radiation to males causes an increase of the m/f sex ratio under newborn.

Workers at UK’s nuclear waste dump, at Sellafield, get 39% more boys than girls. A significant increase found by Dickinson etal.

The reason; male DNA is smaller than female DNA. Hence less chance to be hit and killed by nuclear radiation. So more male sperm survive in increased radiation environments.
Of course there is also sperm whose DNA survives despite being damaged, which explains the increased level of congenital malformations in newborn among radiation workers.

Bas Gresnigt's picture
Bas Gresnigt on February 26, 2018

Bob,
Near all studies of Scherb are executed in cooperation and published with other scientists. As you can see when you check the long list of his publicatons at the Helmholtz institute WEB-site where he works.

Scherb has a PhD in statistics which he earned when he worked at the university.
His publications concern not only the effects of radiation but also poisonous matter.
He earned his PhD with research in statistical methods. That research is of course published too.

The German Helmholt institutes have a similar role as the national labs in USA, such as ORNL.

John Oneill's picture
John Oneill on February 26, 2018

‘In fact, the National Council on Radiation Protection and Measurements reported in 2009 that aircrew have, on average, the highest yearly dose of radiation out of all radiation-exposed workers in the US. This annual hit of an estimated 3 millisieverts (mSv) — a complicated-sounding measure of the amount of background radiation a person receives in one year in the US — beat out the annual doses received by other high-radiation jobs, such as X-ray technicians and nuclear power workers.’
Yet fighter pilots and astronauts have been shown to have significantly more daughters than sons. Radiation, stress, G-forces, pressure changes have all been proposed as causes.
https://www.quora.com/Is-it-true-that-fighter-jet-pilots-usually-have-da...
This reanalysis of a study using the dosimeters of 400,000 nuclear workers, dating back as far as the 1940s, found that for US and Canadian workers, when tallied with their work history, risks were not as high as originally shown, and ..’radiation risks of leukaemia were negative in workers from the 1956-1964 era, and that …. all workers combined had mortality lower than the general population.’
https://theconversation.com/nuclear-workers-risk-of-cancer-lower-than-pr...
Do you have a link for your claim of increased birth defects among nuclear workers’ children ?

Bas Gresnigt's picture
Bas Gresnigt on February 27, 2018

In up-to-date countries consumers can choose between at least 5 different types of electricity (citizens in NL have a choice between ~10, offered by at least
20 competing utilities).

Bas Gresnigt's picture
Bas Gresnigt on February 27, 2018

John,
Av. US citizens get 3 – 5mSv/a. Substantial more than e.g. German citizens.
Your 3mSv/a is the max. allowed extra radiation for aircrews. The real value is <50% (pilots who regularly fly intercontinental flights).
Nuclear power workers are allowed to get up to 20mSv/a.

Seems that the study you refer is highly biased. Those workers are a well educated healthy selection which normally live significant longer…..

John Oneill's picture
John Oneill on February 27, 2018

The original study covered about 400,000 nuclear workers in about 35 countries, and showed a significant increase in cancer with exposure, on a par with the much briefer, more intense exposure of the Hiroshima and Nagasaki survivors. However, when Canadian workers were taken out of the combined study this effect largely disappeared, and of the Canadians, only a few percent of the earliest workers were anomalous. The reassessment found that the earliest records were missing, and workers who had been there at the birth of the Canadian industry, when routine exposures were much higher, had only had their later dosimeters recorded. If the excess cancer risk had been of the same order as for the hibakusha of Japan – about a 45% attributable rise in leukemia, and ten percent for solid cancers – the overall extra mortality risk would have been 2/3 of one percent.
http://bigthink.com/risk-reason-and-reality/does-living-near-a-nuclear-p...
With the early high-exposure Canadian figures omitted, it has been argued that the figures remaining do not show a ‘healthy worker effect’ , as you claim, but hormesis – a protective effect from low exposure.
http://journals.sagepub.com/doi/full/10.2203/dose-response.09-019.Fornalski
I don’t pretend to know which dog will win this fight, and clearly any cancer can be a personal tragedy, but jumping to conclusions from inadequate evidence and cognitive bias has often led to bad policy in the past. If nuclear can be an important tool in the fight to stabilise our climate – which it will have to be – putting it in the same box as a known mass killer like coal, on very slender evidence, is reckless.

Bas Gresnigt's picture
Bas Gresnigt on February 28, 2018

John,
Removing part of the rearched population in order to create more beneficial results implies the results are fake.
It’s one of the reasons I called the review results highly biased.

You should compare nuclear with modern generation methods; wind, solar, etc. Then nuclear is clearly inferior: More dangerous, more expensive, longer construction period needed.

But even comparing it’s safety with coal, it’s not clear whether nuclear scores better.
Consider the genetic damage with its health effects for next generations which normal operating nuclear facilities cause, and the ~ a milllion deaths due to the accidents (check e.g. the Annals of the New York Academy of Science), nuclear may be more dangerous.

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