According to a 2014 OECD study, the largest currently known recoverable resources exist in Australia (approximately 29 per cent of the world), Kazakhstan (12 per cent) and Russia (nine per cent). When looking at the actual production, more than half the world’s extraction takes place in Canada (28 per cent) and Australia (23 per cent).
A 2010 study concluded that there have been at least 99 recorded nuclear power plant accidents between 1952 and 2009. Chernobyl (1986) and Fukushima (2011) have been the most severe and were classified as level 7 (‘major accidents’). The worst event in the UK was the 1957 Windscale fire at the Sellafield site which was classified as a level 5 ‘accident with wider consequences’.
The cartogram below displays locations of nuclear power plants from an IAEA database of nuclear reactors published by the Center for International Earth Science Information Network (CIESIN) at Columbia University. This includes facilities which are at varying stages of decommissioning – a time-intensive and expensive process due to its continuing hazards.
In addition to the locations of the nuclear plants, circles of 20, 30 and 80km distances are drawn as the immediate risk zones. The underlying basemap uses a gridded cartogram based on equal population projection to put the differing exposures of populations into perspective. Each circle of equal distance is resized relative to the number of people living in the vicinity of each nuclear power plant. The locations of the most severe incidents above INES level 5 are highlighted.
power plants in the Europe (Image: Benjamin Hennig)