For those who still read my rather defunct blog, I have a new piece over at Energy Collective looking at how the risks of nuclear energy are often exaggerated. In this case I look at a bizarre report often cited by environmental groups. Incredibly this study, which was funded by a German renewable energy lobby group in 2011, claims that the probability of any nuclear power plant being attacked by terrorists each year is once a year.
So, if you remember your rules of probability you can quickly see problems. There are over 400 nuclear power plants on the planet, or more accurately reactors. (I assume the report really means reactors, but the numbers are as bad either way.)
The probability of no nuclear power plants being attacked in a given year is (1-1/1000)^435. This is 65%. In other words the report is claiming there is a 35% chance that a terrorist attack will be carried out on a nuclear power plant somewhere each year. This is obviously nonsense. Yet, we find Friends of the Earth citing this report. In fact they cited it in a recent briefing where they re-iterated their opposition to nuclear energy. This briefing was in response to a review of the evidence into nuclear energy by the Tyndall Centre, which was a decent evidence based review. The Tyndall Centre produced an evidence based section on the external costs of nuclear energy. Sadly Friends of the Earth rejected this in favour of junk. An old story.