Energy sources (Re: The Motives of Scientists)

Cornelius Krasel krasel at
Sat Oct 28 14:53:18 EST 1995

[ and sci.econ snipped from newsgroup line]

John Palkovic (palkovic at wrote:
> There is an interesting letter from Bernard L. Cohen (a nuclear
> Physicist) in the Oct. "Physics Today."  Here are a few excerpts:

>    The uranium impurity in the coal [burned in power plants] and its
>    thorium-230 and radium-226 daughters end up in the ground and
>    eventually become radon, an important radiotoxic that the EPA is
>    killing 14,000 Americans per year.

>    It is interesting to contrast the effects of burning coal for
>    energy with those using nuclear power, which removes uranium from
>    the ground and thus saves people from radon's radiotoxicity. In
>    principle, the 800 x 10^8 tons of coal burned annually in the US
>    could be replaced by mining 40,000 tons of uranium, eventually
>    saving 230,000 lives by removing the uranium from the ground, in
>    addition to the 8600 lives that would be saved by not burning coal.

>    The conclusion is very clear: if one considers the very-long-term
>    effects of radiotoxicity, coal burning is a major killer, and
>    nuclear power is a major lifesaver.

Unfortunately Mr. Cohen is assuming that nuclear power plants never
fail. (Besides, I think these numbers have been refuted, but I don't
have my copy of Frederic Vester's "Neuland des Denkens" here.)


/* Cornelius Krasel, U Wuerzburg, Dept. of Pharmacology, Versbacher Str. 9 */
/* D-97078 Wuerzburg, Germany   email: phak004 at  SP3 */
/* "Science is the game we play with God to find out what His rules are."  */

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