Rich Trzupek

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No one has ever accused Alec Baldwin of being a rocket scientist, but apparently the actor fancies himself a nuclear physicist. At least that’s the logical conclusion to draw based on his post over at HuffPo entitled “The Human Cost of Nuclear Power.” The actor assumes his new role with gusto, metaphorically donning a lab coat to explain what he believes are the inherent dangers of nuclear power, but his bizarre conclusions and the outdated, discredited research he cites suggests that a straightjacket would be his better fashion choice. 

Let’s start with a question that illustrates just how far the limb that Baldwin is precariously balancing upon extends: what kind of power plant emits the most radiation? The correct answer isn’t the obvious answer. According to the Department of Energy, coal fired power plants emit about one hundred times more radiation, per unit of energy produced, than nuclear plants, chiefly because coal naturally contains trace amounts of radioactive compounds and, unlike nukes, they’re not designed with radioactive shields. Before anyone living near a coal fired power plant runs screaming for the door, I should hasten to add this is still an incredibly tiny amount of radiation, about 1/10,000th of all the radiation that an average person is exposed to each year. Natural sources, by far, make the biggest radioactive contributions to our lives. Nothing else is even close.