Cohocton Wind Watch: Wind vs. Nuclear Power: Which Is Safer?
Cohocton Wind Watch is a community citizen organization dedicated to preserve the public safety, property values, economic viability, environmental integrity and quality of life in Cohocton, NY and in surrounding townships. Neighbors committed to public service in order to achieve a reasonable vision for a Finger Lakes region worthy of future generations.


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Sunday, March 08, 2009

Wind vs. Nuclear Power: Which Is Safer?

Nuclear power is portrayed by the major media and by environmental activists as dangerous and perhaps even sinister. Wind power, on the other hand, is considered benign. But the track records of nuclear power and wind power present a different picture.

Nuclear power has been been used to produce electricity for more than four decades, beginning with the Shippingport nuclear power plant in 1957. Today there are 104 nuclear power plants in the United States generating some 60 billion kilowatt hours per year of electricity. There have been no deaths from radiation in more than 40 years of American nuclear plant operations. Even considering the "catastrophe" at Three Mile Island, there has not been a single case of injury to any member of the public. (There were fatalities at the Russian Chernobyl plant, but that plant was radically different from an American nuclear power plant. It did not even have a containment structured around the nuclear reactor.)

How about wind power? How does it fare compared to the perfect record of the American nuclear power industry? Believe it or not, there is an organization, the Caithness Windfarm Information Forum, that keeps data on wind power-elated accidents and/or design problems. Caithness is based in Great Britain, where homeowners have already grown tired of the noise and other wind turbine generated problems. Their "Summary of Wind Turbine Accident Data to 31 December 2008" reports 41 worker fatalities. Most, not unexpectedly, were from falling as they are typically working on turbines some thirty stories above the ground. In addition, Caithness attributed the deaths of 16 members of the public to wind-turbine accidents.

A summary of accidents includes:

• 139 incidents of blade failure. Failed blades have been known to travel over a quarter mile, and that is from turbines much smaller than those being manufactured today. This type of accident has caused some European countries to require a minimum distance of about one mile (2 km) between occupied housing and wind turbines.

•110 incidents of fire. When a wind turbine fire occurs, the local fire departments (without 30-story ladder trucks) can do little but watch. This isn't a problem unless the wind is blowing sufficiently to scatter the debris into dry fields or woodlands — or maybe onto your roof.

• 60 incidents of structural failure. This includes turbine failure and tower collapse failures. While not now a problem for the public — except having to gaze upon at a bent-over wind turbine — it may well become one as governments, under pressure from environmental activists, encourage marginal- and hastily-sited wind projects in urban areas where such an accident could kill and maim.

• 24 incidents of "ice throw" with human injury. These data may be a small fraction of actual incidences, with 880 icing events reported in a 13-year period for Germany alone.

(Click to read entire article)

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