Nuclear 101

Although safety concerns have accompanied the development of nuclear power for commercial use since it began over 60 years ago, the nuclear energy industry's safety record compares well against other forms of energy production. If we look at the number of accidents having more than 5 fatalities in electricity generation chains between 1969 and 2000, the direct fatalities resulting from nuclear power accidents are relatively few when compared to other major energy sources.

Direct Fatalities Resulting from Electricity Generation
Energy Chain OECD countries Non OECD countries
Fatalities Fatalities /TWy Fatalities Fatalities/TWy
Coal 2,259 157 18,000 597
Natural Gas 1,043 85 1,000 111
Hydro 14 3 30,000 10,285
Nuclear 0 0 31 48
TWy = Terawatt year
OECD - Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development
Source: Paul Scherrer Institute

During over 14,700 cumulative reactor-years of commercial operation in 32 countries, there have been three major accidents at nuclear power stations. These accidents aroused extensive concerns and resulted in a call for concerted global efforts to further enhance nuclear safety. In their effort to maintain continuous safety improvement for nuclear power station, the international nuclear community also incorporates lessons taken from these accidents into the overall safety improvement programmes.