[ RadSafe ] "Do Not Read This If You Are Anti-Nuclear Energy"

Steven Dapra sjd at swcp.com
Wed Nov 21 22:23:56 CST 2007

Nov. 21

         Perhaps this is the journalists' way of showing us they don't know 
enough elementary arithmetic to calculate proportions.  (Can anyone devise 
a more plausible explanation?)

Steven Dapra

At 06:14 PM 11/21/07 -0600, Bob Cherry wrote:
>Subject opinion article in the New York Times quotes our Bernie Cohen who
>researched stories by the New York Times about different types of accidents
>between 1974-78 (prior to Three Mile Island):
>On an average, there were 120 entries per year on motor vehicle accidents,
>which kill 50,000 Americans each year; 50 entries per year on industrial
>accidents, which kill 12,000; and 20 entries per year on asphyxiation
>accidents, which kill 4,500; note that for these the number of entries,
>which represents roughly the amount of newspaper coverage, is approximately
>proportional to the death toll they cause. But for accidents involving
>radiation, there were something like 200 entries per year, in spite of there
>not having been a single fatality from a radiation accident for over a
>Another problem, especially in TV coverage, was use of inflammatory
>language. We often heard about "deadly radiation" or "lethal radioactivity,"
>referring to a hazard that hadn't claimed a single victim for over a decade,
>and had caused less than five deaths in American history. But we never heard
>about "lethal electricity," although 1,200 Americans were dying each year
>from electrocution; or about "lethal natural gas," which was killing 500
>annually with asphyxiation accidents. (Bernard Cohen, "The Nuclear Energy
>Option," pp. 58-59.)
>The opinion article:

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