More people die from electric car battery fires than from nuclear energy

Michael Shellenberger , a well-known environmentalist, points out a true and little-known fact: Lithium batteries kill far more people than nuclear power plants. Why, then, are we not afraid of it, while fears are often unfounded about nuclear power?

For decades, critics of nuclear power plants have emphasized their particular danger. When there is a loss of cooling water for the reactor cores, plant operators can lose control, letting them melt and potentially spreading toxic particulates into the environment. Nuclear accidents are unique in that they require people to "take cover" and close windows and vents to avoid breathing in the irradiated particulate matter. In addition, nuclear accidents can take place in unpredictable and mysterious ways, such as the creation of hydrogen gas explosions, such as those that occurred during the Fukushima nuclear accident in 2011.

Yet nuclear power plants remain the safest way to produce electricity and one of the most benign human activities. No one has ever died from nuclear energy in the United States, no one will die from radiation from the Fukushima accident in 2011, and only about 200 people will have their lives shortened by the flames and radiation from the Chernobyl fire. And because nuclear power plants prevent the burning of fossil fuels, climate scientist James Hansen estimates they have saved nearly 2 million lives to date.

The ability to release intense amounts of heat through the splitting of atoms has actually brought about a danger that is unique to the world. But the most unique thing is that it has killed so few despite frightening so many. The too large and too prolonged evacuations of Fukushima and Chernobyl have resulted in far more casualties than those caused by the radiant particles.

And now a string of fatalities reveals that even lithium batteries are more lethal than nuclear power. On Saturday, a fire ignited by an electric scooter's lithium battery killed an 8-year-old girl in New York. In New York City alone, lithium battery fires caused 3 deaths and 57 injuries in 2021, while in the first half of 2022 they caused 5 deaths and 73 injuries.

Meanwhile, Tuesday morning a fire at a Tesla battery plant in Moss Landing, Monterey County, California, emitted so much toxic smoke that fire and sheriff departments issued a "shelter" order. -in-place ”, asking people to close windows and vents and closing several streets. Contrary to widespread perception, orders of refuge are not unique to nuclear accidents, but are also used to protect the population from chemical fires and other accidents. This was the third fire since the plant was opened two years ago.

Lithium battery fires, like nuclear accidents, are unpredictable, mysterious and difficult to manage. The battery fires that blocked the first Boeing 787 Dreamliners in 2013 were difficult to control and mysterious.A Tesla that had been in a Sacramento junkyard for three weeks caught fire spontaneously, repeatedly and mysteriously. "The batteries kept reigniting the fire," said firefighters, who were only able to stop them by flipping the Tesla on its side.

Lithium batteries are dangerous and more lethal than nuclear power plants. This is obviously true in the United States, where nuclear power has never killed anyone. But that's probably true globally too, or will soon be, given the rise in the number of victims of lithium fires.

All of which begs the question: If lithium batteries are far more dangerous than nuclear power, why is nuclear power so feared?

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The article More people die from electric car battery fires than nuclear energy comes from .

This is a machine translation of a post published on Scenari Economici at the URL on Thu, 22 Sep 2022 21:34:32 +0000.