The fear consultants are of course coming out of the woodwork now. They make a lot of money working for the nuclear industry.

This is low hanging fruit, I admit, but here’s a good one to analyze to a make a point:

Alan Kolaczkowski, a retired nuclear engineer, consulted with the Nuclear Regulatory Commission on specific probabilities of accidents at nuclear plants. He estimates the risk of a disaster at a given plant at 1 in 100,000 — about the same as your chance of being killed by lightning over your lifetime.

This sort of statement is simply not credible based on the data we do have. We’ve had 3 major dissasters (Three Mile Island, Chernobyl, and now in Japan). There are something over 400 nuclear power plants in the world. So, this simplified but valid approach shows that we sure have had a lot more than 1 out of 100,000 disasters.

One important statistical point is that when it comes to very infrequent events (out on the tail of probabilities), there’s basically nothing to be said with any certainty at all about the probability of an event.  The true experts on this sort of thing know enough to state this fact up front. Those who know very little will come up with numbers because they are paid to do so.


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