Today, the debate's on nuclear power. John of Dymaxion World is arguing against nukes. Frank Cybulski is on the pro-nuke side. Since I'm a lazyass and a recycler, I lifted my comment from there and I'm pasting it here.
Frank said: However, it can be assumed from both evidence and logical deduction that those single two incidents are the two blotches on an otherwise flawless safety record,
Chernobyl and Three Mile Island are the two most well-known nuclear accidents. The industry's safety record is anything but flawless. A simple wikipedia search for nuclear accidents would tell even the most casual investigator that there have, in fact, been hundreds of accidents. To suggest that the nuclear industry's safety record is "flawless" is to insult the reader. After reading that genuinely offensive piece of disinformation, I very nearly quit reading Frank's argument.
If I had quit, though, I wouldn't have seen the next falsehood: The main example in favour of nuclear is that of France.
During heatwaves in 2003 and again in 2006, many of France's reactors had to be shut down due to a lack of cooling water. This was at the time when they needed the most energy for AC, refrigeration, fans, etc. In the 2003 heatwave, thousands of French citizens died from heat related problems.
Not enough cool water caused reactors to shut down in Michigan in 2006.
Groundwater in the French Champagne wine and dairy district is seven times more radioactive than EU standards permit. An entire industry, centuries old, faces collapse due to leaking radioactive contaminants.
Here in Canada, we have the Cameco situation. Cameco is a processor of raw uranium into nuclear fuel. Their Port Hope, Ontario plant has been leaking radioactive toxins into the ground and the plant has been shut down while they try to find the leak. They are being forced to drill holes through the sides of their various buildings and structures looking for the source. They've been looking for about three weeks, now.
The notion that nuclear energy production is carbon neutral is flat out wrong. Uranium mining is one of the most CO2 intensive of all mining operations. Transportation and refining of uranium are CO2 emitters. The construction of new nuclear plants takes years and is anything but carbon neutral.
Ontario's Environment Commissioner, Gordon Miller, says we should be looking at smaller, localized sources of power rather than large, centralized generators. The loss of power in transmitting across hundreds of miles amounts to more than 10%. Buyilding those transmission routes is another CO2 emitter and also takes valuable agricultural land out of use. McGuinty has chosen not to take the advice of his environment commissioner.
Frank goes on: Much is made of nuclear waste, but the miniscule amount of waste created by nuclear is insignificant when properly taken care of,It's not the quantity. It's the toxicity. As far as "properly taken care of", nobody's figured out how to do that, yet. They've been looking for a way to properly take care of this waste for 60 years but, so far, temporary on-site storage is what we're doing. Even industry insiders say this is not a good permanent solution.
Nuclear waste must be guarded 24/7 by armed guards. Why? So terrorists or other criminals don't steal it to use as the dirt in a dirty bomb... or worse. Ontario Power Generation is training its own security force to takeover this responsibility from police.
No nuclear project in Canada has ever come in on time or on budget. The cost over-runs have been in the bilions. Reactor lifespans were said to be 40 years and when the existing Ontario reactors were built, the cost was prorated over 40 years. After 20 years, however, they began to fail. No reactor in Ontario has lasted more than 25 years. This has effectively doubled the cost to the taxpayer. Ontarians pay a charge on every monthly bill for "Ontario Hydro Debt Repayment." This money is entirely going to pay off bad investments in nuclear energy.
Shall I get into the cancer rates (200%-300% above average) in locales near nuclear plants? Shall I note all the times there were accidents and the public was left uninformed of the danger they were in (think way back to the Japan earthquake a couple weeks ago.) Shall I tell how the industry wines and dines local municipal government officials when a plant is proposed (Manitoba councillors flown out east for lobster dinners before a critical vote in which they approved a nuclear application)?