For those paranoid about nuclear plant radiation ruining their lives, join the club...
Greenwire posted this: "It's long been a vexing issue in the scientific community, spurred in large part by public panic over nuclear power, waste and radiation: Why the terror? Compared to notorious killers like driving, smoking or drinking, nuclear risks -- though objectively carrying little danger in their modern deployments -- stir the deepest fears in Americans, a terror that is surfacing again as engineers strive to contain the crisis at Japan's crippled Fukushima Daiichi power station."
My thoughts on the subject:
1. Some of this comes from baby boomers who were given "duck and cover" instructions by teachers years ago, when H-bomb tests were taking place and paranoia about Russian atomic bomb attacks was being felt. There were also a bunch of popular horror movies about the byproducts of this new technology -- giant ants and roaches destroying towns, families fleeing to live up in the mountains, etc.
2. Problems at the Three Mile Island nuclear power plant stirred up fear and protest in the late 1970s -- see the Jane Fonda movie, "The China Syndrome," to get a good look at it. There were also a lot of No Nukes concerts led by Jackson Browne that were stirring up activists.
3. The Russian debacle at the Chernobyl nuclear power plant in 1986, where the government attempted to control the situation and the fact that a lot of people died immediately or from cancer soon after.
4. Nuclear power makes up 20% of our energy sources for electric power plants in America. It might be cleaner than coal, but it's still producing a lot of our energy, sometimes close to where we live.
5. Other countries (like France) use a lot of nuclear power for electricity -- this is widespread throughout the world.
6. As electric vehicles and renewable energy have become important issues in US and international politics, the source of power is a hot issue. Look for a lot of debate and commentary.