• 3 hours U.S. On Track To Unseat Saudi Arabia As No.2 Oil Producer In the World
  • 5 hours Senior Interior Dept. Official Says Florida Still On Trump’s Draft Drilling Plan
  • 7 hours Schlumberger Optimistic In 2018 For Oilfield Services Businesses
  • 9 hours Only 1/3 Of Oil Patch Jobs To Return To Canada After Downturn Ends
  • 12 hours Statoil, YPF Finalize Joint Vaca Muerta Development Deal
  • 13 hours TransCanada Boasts Long-Term Commitments For Keystone XL
  • 15 hours Nigeria Files Suit Against JP Morgan Over Oil Field Sale
  • 22 hours Chinese Oil Ships Found Violating UN Sanctions On North Korea
  • 1 day Oil Slick From Iranian Tanker Explosion Is Now The Size Of Paris
  • 1 day Nigeria Approves Petroleum Industry Bill After 17 Long Years
  • 1 day Venezuelan Output Drops To 28-Year Low In 2017
  • 1 day OPEC Revises Up Non-OPEC Production Estimates For 2018
  • 2 days Iraq Ready To Sign Deal With BP For Kirkuk Fields
  • 2 days Kinder Morgan Delays Trans Mountain Launch Again
  • 2 days Shell Inks Another Solar Deal
  • 2 days API Reports Seventh Large Crude Draw In Seven Weeks
  • 2 days Maduro’s Advisors Recommend Selling Petro At Steep 60% Discount
  • 2 days EIA: Shale Oil Output To Rise By 1.8 Million Bpd Through Q1 2019
  • 2 days IEA: Don’t Expect Much Oil From Arctic National Wildlife Refuge Before 2030
  • 2 days Minister Says Norway Must Prepare For Arctic Oil Race With Russia
  • 3 days Eight Years Late—UK Hinkley Point C To Be In Service By 2025
  • 3 days Sunk Iranian Oil Tanker Leave Behind Two Slicks
  • 3 days Saudi Arabia Shuns UBS, BofA As Aramco IPO Coordinators
  • 3 days WCS-WTI Spread Narrows As Exports-By-Rail Pick Up
  • 3 days Norway Grants Record 75 New Offshore Exploration Leases
  • 3 days China’s Growing Appetite For Renewables
  • 3 days Chevron To Resume Drilling In Kurdistan
  • 4 days India Boosts Oil, Gas Resource Estimate Ahead Of Bidding Round
  • 4 days India’s Reliance Boosts Export Refinery Capacity By 30%
  • 4 days Nigeria Among Worst Performers In Electricity Supply
  • 4 days ELN Attacks Another Colombian Pipeline As Ceasefire Ceases
  • 4 days Shell Buys 43.8% Stake In Silicon Ranch Solar
  • 4 days Saudis To Award Nuclear Power Contracts In December
  • 4 days Shell Approves Its First North Sea Oil Project In Six Years
  • 4 days China Unlikely To Maintain Record Oil Product Exports
  • 4 days Australia Solar Power Additions Hit Record In 2017
  • 5 days Morocco Prepares $4.6B Gas Project Tender
  • 5 days Iranian Oil Tanker Sinks After Second Explosion
  • 7 days Russia To Discuss Possible Exit From OPEC Deal
  • 7 days Iranian Oil Tanker Drifts Into Japanese Waters As Fires Rage On
Alt Text

Nuclear Power's Resurgence In The Middle East

While nuclear power loses popularity…

Alt Text

Are Higher Uranium Prices Around The Corner?

The world’s largest uranium producer…

Nuclear Energy: Safe Clean and Efficient - Leave Chernobyl in the Past

Nuclear Energy: Safe Clean and Efficient - Leave Chernobyl in the Past

Oil, oil, toil and trouble: As oil prices hover in the high $70's per barrel, market commentators wonder how long Americans can maintain their dependence on fossil fuels. Solar, Wind, Biofuels – all are touted as the next savior, but at this moment in time there is only one serious contender and although it may be unpalatable to some, Nuclear Power is the only realistic option available. We’ve all heard the horror stories of reactor meltdowns and other issues that plagued the nuclear industry in the past, but today, nuclear energy is safer and cheaper than ever before, making it a viable alternative to oil & coal.

Before we explain why, it’s important to look back at a time when nuclear power wasn’t always considered safe. On April 26, an explosion ruptured one of the reactors of the Chernobyl nuclear power plant in the Ukraine, which was then part of the Soviet Union. Further explosions and the resulting fire sent a plume of highly radioactive material into the atmosphere. It spread out over an extensive geographical area. In total, 400 times more radioactive material was released by Chernobyl than had been released by the atomic bombing of Hiroshima.

Nuclear energy has never been the same. The Chernobyl accident led to an increase in anti-nuclear sentiment, which led most nations to scale back on nuclear power. Perhaps the most significant was Sweden, which in a 1990 referendum decided to phase out the 12 nuclear power plants that generated half of its electricity. In fact, by 1989, France and Japan were the only two major industrialized countries that planned to expand their nuclear power plants.

Despite the perception that nuclear energy was more dangerous after Chernobyl, the accident actually made it safer—because world governments began investigating what made Chernobyl fail, and what made other plants safer.

To answer the first question, the accident at Chernobyl was the result of a severely flawed Soviet-era reactor design combined with human error. Such a combination is a rarity. In fact, Chernobyl is the only accident in the history of commercial nuclear power to cause fatalities from radiation.
To answer the second question, differences in reactor design and emergency preparedness make it unlikely that a Chernobyl-type accident could occur in a developed nation such as the United States.

In fact, there are three key differences between the Chernobyl disaster and today’s nuclear energy programs.

First, today’s nuclear plants have safer designs. The Chernobyl plant did not have the extensive containment structure common to most of the world’s nuclear power plants—and it was this lack of protection that allowed radioactive material to escape into the environment.

Second, today’s nuclear power plant operators have implemented stringent emergency preparedness and notification plans. Such plans could have averted much of Chernobyl’s environmental impact even given its poor reactor design. Instead, however, Chernobyl plant operators concealed the accident from authorities and the local population, so evacuations did not begin until about 36 hours after the accident. In the United States, nuclear power plant operators are required to alert local authorities and make recommendations for protecting the public within 15 minutes of identifying conditions that might lead to a significant release of radioactive material—even if such a release has not occurred.

Third, a significant impact of the Chernobyl accident was the consumption of contaminated food after the accident, which occurred because plant operators did not promptly disclose the accident. Today, that’s not the case. Under existing U.S. federal regulations, for example, if an accident occurs, the U.S. government will carefully monitor and test all food and water supplies, and remove from public consumption any that is unsafe.

In sum, as a result of Chernobyl, today’s nuclear energy is safer than ever before—and produces some of the cleanest and cheapest energy available. In fact, nuclear plants are the world’s lowest-cost producer of electricity: The average production cost of 1.87 cents per kilowatt-hour includes the costs of operating and maintaining the plant, purchasing fuel and paying for the management of used fuel.

That’s why many people believe nuclear energy is the energy source of the future. If statistics are any indication, they may be right. In 2008, America’s 104 reactors in 31 states produced 806.2 billion kilowatt-hours of electricity—around 20% of the U.S. populations needs. And that number is growing.




Back to homepage


Leave a comment
  • Anonymous on January 26 2010 said:
    The Swedish people were tricked into boting to abolish nuclear, just as they were tricked into joining the European Union. But they will never abolish the nuclear sector, and as in many other countries the talk is about new reactors. Two reactors were however shut down, and electricity deregulated, and the result is perhaps the electricity price now might be the highest ever.
  • Anonymous on March 19 2011 said:
    "The average production cost of 1.87 cents per kilowatt-hour includes the costs of operating and maintaining the plant, purchasing fuel and paying for the management of used fuel."that sounds like bullshit.

Leave a comment




Oilprice - The No. 1 Source for Oil & Energy News