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Didn't we pretty much kill the nuclear power industry because it was so goddamn dangerous?

No.
We killed the nuclear power industry because humans are very poor estimators of comparative risks (we tend to fear big terrible events all out of proportion to their actual risk, and to ignore small common risks even though they are what kills us). And because many of us are completely innumerate and science-illiterate.

Radon in basements kills a lot of people.
Living at high altitude or near large amounts of granite exposes you to considerable radiation. We don't care about those, because they are so pedestrian.

Yes, if you're really really stupid, (Chernobyl) you can make a really big mistake with nuclear.

But coal mining and burning, the oil industry -- these kill many of us every year directly, and a whole bunch more indirectly, and we pay them no mind. No one was injured by Three Mile Island, and we regard it with horror.

I'm not an advocate for nuclear, and I'm a pretty deep environmentalist. The Hanford Nuclear Reservation fills me with horror -- but then so do the pit mines for metals, the contamination of the Clark Fork, and the Exxon Valdez. I think we'd be a lot better off working the conservation angle, molten-salt solar, wave-power, wind generation, etc. And really, we want to find a just and humane way to arrive at a far smaller global population.

But much of the historical opposition to nuclear power in the US was and continues to be based on hysteria and ignorance rather than any rational consideration of its potential benefits and costs.

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