“Coal Ash Is More Radioactive than Nuclear Waste”?

Coal Ash Is More Radioactive than Nuclear Waste is the title of an article in the 13 December 2007 Scientific American.  This article looks at several decades of published research on waste from nuclear power and waste from coal-fired electricity plants: and the clar conclusion is that coal pollution is more radiactivity.

 estimated radiation doses ingested by people living near the coal plants were equal to or higher than doses for people living around the nuclear facilities. … when all food was grown in the area, radiation doses were 50 to 200 percent higher around the coal plants.

Truth be told, these are minimal amounts of radiation being discussed, low percentages of normal background radiation for the most part.  And, the article dismisses serious health concerns:

The chances of experiencing adverse health effects from radiation are slim for both nuclear and coal-fired power plants—they’re just somewhat higher for the coal ones. “You’re talking about one chance in a billion for nuclear power plants,” Christensen says. “And it’s one in 10 million to one in a hundred million for coal plants.”

This issue, this article provides yet another example of how attention is drawn to the catastrophic ‘what if’ scenarios related to nuclear power while too many eyes are averted from the very real risks from burning coal.

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