Myths and Facts
About the Environment --
Part VI: Nuclear Power

Myth: Three Mile Island proved the dangers of nuclear energy.

Fact: Three Mile Island actually proved the safety of nuclear energy. Radioactivity did escape from the reactor itself, but was held within the containment unit by a containment safety feature. All damage was restricted to the plant itself, and although the repairs were expensive, no living creature was harmed by the radioactivity and no environmental damage occurred.

Myth: Nuclear meltdowns are a serious and constant threat.

Fact: Risk analysis studies estimate that a meltdown could happen once in every 20,000 reactor years. Furthermore, only one in 5,000 meltdowns would release dangerous amounts of radiation.

Myth: Nuclear power plants release harmful amounts of radiation.

Fact: By law, nuclear power plants must emit less than 5 millirems of radiation per year. Most nuclear power plants emit even less, emitting only one to three millirems of radiation per year. To put those numbers in perspective, the average American is exposed to roughly 350 millirems of radiation per year from sources all around them, most of which are natural.

Myth: There are better ways to produce electricity than through nuclear power.

Fact: Currently, there are no viable alternatives to nuclear power except older, less efficient, conventional power sources. Solar power is extremely expensive and highly impractical, requiring huge amounts of land to capture sun light. Wind power has similar problems, requiring a steady wind and many large windmills to create any significant amount of power.

Information from Trashing the Planet by Dixy Lee Ray (Regnery Gateway, 1990).

Issue Date: August 20, 1996

Talking Points on the Economy: Environment #27, published by The National Center for Public Policy Research, 501 Capitol Ct NE, Washington, D.C. 20001 Tel. (202) 507-6398, Fax (301) 498-1301,, http://www.nationalcenter/

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