See the article “How to make a nuclear reactor that can’t have a meltdown” for fascinating information about how nuclear power generators can be built — and have been built — that have zero chance of a meltdown, even in the worst case scenario.
This part is particularly relevant to our conversations today about the dangers of nuclear power:
To put it in perspective, in 2008 Next Big Future calculated how many people are killed per terawatt-hour of electricity generated. On average, there are 161 fatalities related to energy generation from coal for each one of those terawatt-hours, which comprise a quarter of the energy we use on Earth. 36 people die per TWh of oil energy, which is 40% of our energy use. Nuclear power has a deaths per TWh rate of only 0.04 while producing 6% of our energy, which makes it about ten times safer than solar power once you take into account how many people fall off roofs while installing it, and twice as safe as hydro power.
Nuclear power: Twice as safe as hydro, 10x safer than solar, and 1000x as safe as coal or oil.
Among energy idealists, solar power often gets credit for being safe — “We’re just capturing what the sun already gives us!” — but just imagine the environmental catastrophes if those incredibly toxic solar panels had washed out to sea during the tsunami in Japan.