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%

Therefore:

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” .

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