And yet the accidents proved the relative safety, not relative danger, of nuclear energy. Nobody died from radiation at Three Mile Island or Fukushima, and fewer than 50 died died from Chernobyl in the 30 years since the accident.
(Though since this was written, the first radiation-related death
Accidents feature heavily
in the news, but there's only ever been those 3 big ones, right?
The US, where nearly 20 percent of electricity comes from 99 nuclear plants, uses uranium. Older reactors—which is every reactor in the US, including Watts Bar Unit 2—use electric pumps to move water through the system. The Fukushima disaster showed what happens it you have pumps but no power to use them. Newer generations rely on gravity instead, draining cooling water from elevated storage tanks to send it through the reactor core.
So, we're learning. It would be wonderful if the world could go renewable-only, but until we find a decent way to store that power for when the sun isn't shining and the wind isn't blowing, we're going to need something
else to bridge those gaps.