How safe is nuclear power as a source of energy? It is helpful to look at the alternatives. In the United States, 48.5% of all electricity is generated by coal, as opposed to 19% by nuclear power. So, what is the human cost of coal power generation? In 2009, 18 Americans were killed mining coal. In China alone, 2,631 miners died in 2009. And 2009 was a good year for coal. In the decade ending in 2009, there were an average of 31 U.S. and 5,028 Chinese deaths annually.
In contrast, according to the WHO, the total death count from the Chernobyl disaster will be approximately 2,200 people. There have never been any fatalities in the US or western Europe from nuclear power. In other words, the entire number of deaths worldwide from nuclear power--over fifty years--is less than half of that that coal power kills every year. And that is even before considering climate change effects from CO2.