Eruption vs meltdown

Which is the more likely: a volcanic eruption in Auckland or a nuclear power plant meltdown somewhere on Earth?

The risk of the Auckland volcanic field erupting is 6% over 60 years.

What is the risk of a nuclear power plant going into meltdown?

The first nuclear reactor was built in Russia in 1954. There are now 437 reactors worldwide. Over this period of almost 60 years, there have been 3 meltdowns: Fukishima, Chernobyl and Three Mile Island.

3/437 = 0.7% over 60 years

It’s not entirely accurate to spread the risk of those 437 reactors over 60 years though, because not all of them have been around for that long. So if we halve the time for simplicity and assume they’ve all been around for 30 years (some of them will have been around for longer and some for less), our risk doubles to 1.4%


Eruption: ~ 6% over 60 years

Meltdown: ~ 1.4% over 60 years

It’s also a certainty for Auckland that one day, a new vent will appear somewhere and an eruption will occur. For Europe’s nuclear power plants, there is the option, “it may never happen” .

6 responses to “Eruption vs meltdown”

  1. There is also the option of an unprecedented military/rouge/terrorist attack on those reactors which would raise the odds.
    By the way, how cute is that curl in the front of Elizabeth’s hair in your profile pic?!?!?!?!

    1. That is cute! She has a huge mop of curls now.

      True about the threat, except that I reckon I’ve over-estimated the risk, to Western Europe. There are fewer reactors there than in places like the US. They are also likely to have higher safety standards than places like Chernobyl.

  2. That IS a cute curl!! Hadn’t noticed it before. A perfect circle. πŸ™‚ I really think you guys should join me in Canberra. No earthquakes. No reactors. Lots of trees and wildlife. A good uni. Bloody freezing winters and MOI on tap. Perfect!

    1. I think Australia needs nuclear reactors. You’ve gotta stop burning coal!

      Canberra sounds nice. I’ll have to come and visit you one day.

  3. The reason I decided to check out the stats is because we have an acquaintance who recently moved to Auckland from Western Europe. He says he felt more worried about the nuclear reactors there than he does about the Auckland volcanic field. The statistics just don’t support this though.

  4. I back Bronwyn’s suggestion πŸ™‚

    Hope your stats make your new acquaintance feel better at least.

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