Posted in: Green Tech

Wind power causes more deaths than nuclear power


While this post technically will go under the Green Tech category here at The Inquisitr it equally could go under the Funny category because it really would be funny if not for the fact that it is stupid. According to the folks over at Treehugger there is an author over at The New American that is trying to make the case that wind power is more dangerous than nuclear power because there have been more wind power related deaths than the zero death rate encountered in the nuclear industry.

That’s right folks – the suggestion the author is making is that nuclear power is safer than wind power because there hasn’t been a single nuclear plant related death in 40 years. With the short life of wind power though we have a growing number of deaths; which Treehugger kindly listed out for us

Summary of Wind Turbine Incidents (December 2008):
41 Worker Fatalities, 16 Public- Includes falling from turbine towers and transporting turbines on the highway.
39 Incidents of Blade Failure- Failed blades have been known to travel over a quarter mile, killing any unfortunate bystanders within its path of destruction.
110 Incidents of Fire- When a wind turbine fire occurs, local fire departments can do little but watch due to the 30-story height of these turbine units. The falling debris are then carried across the distance and cause new fires.
60 Incidents of Structural Failure- As turbines become more prevalent, these breakages will become more common in public areas, thereby causing more deaths and dismemberment’s from falling debris.
24 incidents of “hurling ice”- Ice forms on these giant blades and is reportedly hurled at deathly speeds in all directions. Author reports that some 880 ice incidents of this nature have occurred over Germany’s 13-years of harnessing wind power.

Source: Treehugger

They go on to suggest that this type of death toll will rise rapidly in the the future as more and more rooftop solar panels are installed around the nation.

What a great rib tickler for a Sunday afternoon.

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27 Responses to “Wind power causes more deaths than nuclear power”

  1. Stilgherrian

    Ahem! “There hasn’t been a single nuclear plant related death in 40 years”? ORLY? Tell that to the crew at Chernobyl! “237 people suffered from acute radiation sickness, of whom 31 died within the first three months.”

  2. Dr Richard Lawson

    The article discounted Chernobyl, in a cherry picking sort of way. Estimates of Chernobyl deaths vary widely, according to who is counting; WHO estimated 47-212 immediate deaths, and 4000-9000 excess cancers. Greenpeace estimated 270,000 excess cancers, of which 93,000 would be fatal. IPPNW expects 50,000 cancers , 10,000 deformities, and 5,000 infant deaths. The Ukranian health minister estimates that 2.4 million Ukrainians have health problems of some kind as a result of Chernobyl.

  3. Gary

    Lets see, how dishonest can you be? “According to the folks at Treehugger…” Which, isn't even acurate, learn how to source the original information which is from Then lets go to the actual points the author from New American made: “How about wind power? How does it fare compared to the perfect record of the American nuclear power industry? Believe it or not, there is an organization, the Caithness Windfarm Information Forum, that keeps data on wind power-elated accidents and/or design problems. Caithness is based in Great Britain, where homeowners have already grown tired of the noise and other wind turbine generated problems. Their “Summary of Wind Turbine Accident Data to 31 December 2008″ reports 41 worker fatalities. Most, not unexpectedly, were from falling as they are typically working on turbines some thirty stories above the ground. In addition, Caithness attributed the deaths of 16 members of the public to wind-turbine accidents.”

    I do hope your readers read the New American article. A rib tickler or not, its much more thought out then your viewpoint.

    And then you end with “They go on to suggest that this type of death toll will rise rapidly in the the future as more and more rooftop solar panels are installed around the nation.”

    Which the New American author points out:

    “But the deaths and injuries resulting from wind turbine construction and operation will be dwarfed by the carnage certain to occur in California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger's “million solar roofs plant” actually comes to fruition? Falls, currently the second largest cause of accidental deaths after auto accidents and five times the rate from fires, will no doubt take a sizable jump as tens of thousands of amateur installers take to the roofs. And remember, solar voltaic cells must be cleaned regularly else they rapidly lose their already poor efficiencies.”

    I suport using wind and solar panels. But I strongly support nuclear power. Lets get real and have serious discussions about our future energy policy to reduce carbon emissions.

  4. Gary

    The article doesn't discount Chernobyl. “There were fatalities at the Russian Chernobyl plant, but that plant was radically different from an American nuclear power plant. It did not even have a containment structured around the nuclear reactor”
    Simply pointing out the difference in reactor design, lack of a containment dome ect… There has never been a death in the U.S. relating from nuclear power generation in the U.S. With a “Dr.” in your name, I'd hope that you can do more than just read, but comprehend as well.

  5. trvth

    If they include construction deaths and material delivery (road) deaths, then there is no way that nuclear can be without fatalities. I'm sure there have been transportation and construction deaths related to nuclear.

  6. Gary

    While I think that is a great point and something to look at further, it doesn't relate to deaths associated with the power generation process.

  7. Sane

    Huh? Read the article and trvths comment on it more closely.

    The article and comments on the article all include at least some of the deaths as being from the BUILDING of the wind turbines. Trvth's point was that it is only fair that nuclear deaths should ALSO include the BUILDING deaths. The fact that it does for one but not for the other immeditely raises it as suspect.

  8. Courtney Hamilton

    With all due respect Dr Lawson,

    Back in 2005, the UN published its scientific report into the accident at the nuclear facilities at Chernobyl. The 600 page report concluded that the people of Ukraine and the surrounding region have been affected by over-the-top, exaggerated fears rather than by radiation exposure. Indeed, the report argues that the people in the affected area have suffered a 'paralysing fatalism', due mostly to the 'myths and misperceptions' spun by environmentalists organisations throughout the West.….

    I'm not quite sure what's worse, 'paralysing fatalism', or death – in human terms, there pretty much the same. Blake Lee-Harwood from Greenpeace, told the BBC, that the nuclear industry had a 'vested interest in playing down Chernobyl because it's an embarrassment to them'. But, hold on a minute – the green movement also have a 'vested interest' in hyping-up Chernobyl. It stands to reason – if the world's worst nuclear disaster wasn't really all that, then there's no good reason why we can't build a new generation of nuclear power-stations over here – is there?

    The post above is highly amusing, and it's also very instructive – yes, the author is hyping up wind turbine fatalities in a cheap bid to discredit wind technology. Dr Lawson is doing exactly the same thing – hyping up the stats in order to discredit nuclear technology

    The UN report claims there were 'fewer than 50 deaths' that could directly be attributed to radiation from the Chernobyl disaster. The report is the work of hundreds of scientists, economists and heath professionals. Where exactly is evidence that 93,000 people will die as a result of Chernobyl?

  9. Gary

    A nuclear power plant provides vast amounts of energy. Do the math yourself in estimating how many wind farms or solar farms would be needed to equal one 1,000 mw reactor. Besides, I still haven't found any information on any deaths in the U.S. relating to construction of nuclear power plants. That isn't to say there aren't or will never be, just that the more I look, the safer things are. However, just to point this out, that information not be as easy to track down because its been a LONG time since construction has happened on new nuclear plants. (in the U.S.) That isn't to say that there haven't been any construction projects in the U.S. at or on nuclear plants though.
    All I know is that the nuclear industry is one of safest industries in the U.S.

  10. StevenHodson

    the rib tickler was because of the lopsided reporting on both sides of the fence. Number can be twisted in many directions to support whatever hypothesis one wants to put across. I wasn't coming out on either side of the argument – just passing a long information for you to draw your own conclusions from.

  11. StevenHodson

    once they figure out what the hell they will do with the spent fuel rods that even right now they don't have a clue how to deal with – then maybe nuclear energy might be a reasonable alternative. As it stands right now to potential for death and disaster should even one nuclear plant in the US or Canada has a serious accident seriously outweighs the workplace deaths and accidents that occur in the other energy sectors

  12. StevenHodson

    just to clarify – I wasn't hyping up either side. I was being more sarcastic than anything else. As I said in a reply above .. numbers can be used and abused by either side of any argument – this case is no different.

  13. Gary

    Understood. Hopefully both the environmental lobby's and energy lobby's can come to some sort of agreement as there are a lot of issues going on that really need to be addressed.

  14. california home solar

    What types of deaths would the chenobyl disaster a while back be classified under?

  15. Antony

    The SL-1, or Stationary Low-Power Reactor Number One in Idaho USA underwent a steam explosion and meltdown on January 3, 1961, killing its three operators.
    All three were buried in lead-lined caskets sealed with concrete and placed in metal vaults with a concrete cover. One of them. One of them, Richard Leroy McKinley is buried in section 31 of Arlington National Cemetery.

  16. Antony

    Or how about Robert Peabody, 37 who died after an accident at the United Nuclear Corp. fuel facility in July 1964. Liquid uranium he was pouring went critical, starting a nuclear reaction that exposed him to 1,000 times the lethal does of radiation.

  17. udu

    This was not a reactor operated by a utility to produce electricity for consumers. Stop the spin.

  18. maraz

    “there hasn’t been a single nuclear plant related death in 40 years.”

    Chernobyl ’86 only took out 56 people by radiation poisoning and thyroid cancer, but an estimated 4,000 people either have died or are going to die of cancer caused by the fallout which exposed approximately 600,000 people to radiation.

    Since it wasn’t in the ‘states, we can simply disregard it, right?

  19. T-Squared

    Yes, you can disregard those deaths attributable to the Chernobyl accident. Unlike western-designed civilian power reactors, the Soveit-designed RBMK reactors, of which Chernobyl was one, did not have a containment system, they used solid graphite as a moderator which is flammable at high temperatures, and are subject to a positive void coefficient, i.e. a situation where reactor power can increase with a loss of coolant.

    Western reactors, on the other hand, are enclosed in a five-foot thick concrete enclosure reinforced with rebar, the moderator used is water which is extremely difficult to ignite, and western reactors are designed on the principle of a negative void coefficient.

    You may recall the Three-Mile Island reactor accident. This accident was a meltdown of the reactor core and in terms of seriousness, it was as serious, if not more, than the Chernobyl accident. Yet, no one died at Three Mile Island from that accident and the highest exposure of radiation to any member of the general public was the equivalent of an X-ray. The back-up safety systems worked at Three Mile Island and have even been improved on. I think it more than reasonable to disregard the Chernobyl accident when it comes to assessing the safety of modern day civilian nuclear reactors.

    Nuclear power is safe and is really the only proven technology by which we can combat global warming and still maintain our energy-intensive lifestyles.

  20. Erik Iverson

    the most important thing to consider is deaths per killowat hour. if we generate more of our power from one source than another, than it can reasonably be assumed that there will be more deaths from the larger source. So the only real way to compare Deaths as a Negative Cost of power generation is to look at deaths per kilowat hour of power. even if nuclear had killed 100 people in America, it would have generated a much greater amount of power per dead worker than coal or wind. Wind has not generated very much power and already has a higher death toll. and with coal, we have plenty of people dying in mining accidents or lung diseases, and not nearly as much power generation as with nuclear.

  21. Nick Hatch

    Nice article. Care to actually refute the claims you criticize or is pointing and laughing what passes for debate @ The Inquisitr?

  22. Duke Van Horn

    Exactly right Erik. That this article makes claims like "…it really would be funny if not for the fact that it is stupid" without supporting them does nothing but make them seem much less credible to me as a news source.

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