The word nuclear is a doomed one, no pun intended, often associated with danger, explosion, contamination, Armageddon, and other disaster scenarios. It has no healthy connotation, and still to this day carries a definite stigma of biased opinions.
The United States has 104 reactors in 65 nuclear plants for a population of 314 million. Mostly concentrated in the Eastern part of the country, with Illinois the most nuclear of them all, at 11 facilities. According to the World Nuclear Association:
"The USA is the world's largest producer of nuclear power, accounting for more than 30 percent of worldwide nuclear generation of electricity."
Most people don't know that France, for example, produces 80.4 percent of its electricity by nuclear energy. Yes, that's right, more than 80 percent. This makes it one of the cleanest countries on the planet, with not much coal production at all, only three percent. It has some wind turbines capacity too, but nothing compares to its nuclear power. In total, 93 percent of the production of all electricity is without any carbon dioxide at all. France has 58 reactors in 19 nuclear plants located on its territory, for a population of 66 million, making it the second in the world for production of nuclear energy, right after the USA.
It's quite difficult for media people to get statistics on nuclear incidents in France. The monopoly of the giant EDF (Electricité de France) being the property of the government, security equals secrecy in their mind. I believe that they should be more open to inquiries and reporting, as to satisfy the interests of their citizens. Not saying much keeps a veil of uncertainty, and only hints that there might be something to worry about. About a dozen accidents have been documented in the country since 1969.
Nothing like Chernobyl (Ukraine) nor Fukushima (Japan) ever happened in France, and the country continues building and augmenting its nuclear capacity to provide clean electricity that way. Since 1958 the country has also nuclear weapons, with the first nuclear bomb testing in 1960, but that is another story.
Environmentalists will tell you about the danger of nuclear fall-out in case of meltdowns at plants, but the very same green people will bash against wind turbines, coal mining, water harvesting, moon tides, chemical dangers, and just about everything produced by industrial industries today, or created by man's behavior.
One might argue that there is no living without industrial behavior any longer. We have moved beyond the cavemen fires and early civilizations using primary means of cooking and heating. Mind you, the very first coal users were already massive polluters. But nobody then saw it as a problem; it was progress, and survival.
We are no longer living in a primitive environment with clean air, clean water, clean everything. We must adapt, or die trying. The worst is probably yet to come. There are multiple theories about the Earth reversing its magnetic poles to clean itself of all that is not true to nature. The poles will then be in opposite location to where they are today. But that would also involve terrible catastrophes everywhere for people, plants and animals alike.
Natural radiation in the environment is only the cause of one percent of all cancers, and radiation from man-produced nuclear activity can only augment that number when humans are exposed to high levels of unnatural radioactive material. But the aggravation as measured in time amounts to only one hour less to our life expectancy for nuclear; coal, oil or gas usage reduces our life by three to 30 days in comparison.
The overpopulation of our planet might be a more important problem than pollution for decades to come. And if we don't like the solution to that bind suggested by Dan Brown in his latest novel Inferno, then we must either find new ways to clean our act, or accept that many will die from the ill-effects of man-made pollution problems. And it can only get worse.
To find out where the closest nuclear plant is from you, enter your zip code in the box at this website: http://tmappsevents.esri.com/website/NuclearProximity/