Radiation therapy is a lifesaving cancer procedure and a significant type of heat transfer. Yet, after the horrific disasters at Chernobyl in 1986 and Fukushima in 2011, both radiation and nuclear energy are often considered a “taboo” category in the energy department.

However, the antagonism toward nuclear energy is absurd and unjustified. When the general public contemplates the risks associated with nuclear energy, they instinctively recall the uncontrolled catastrophes and widespread radiation poisoning— but the true culprit of the disasters is not nuclear energy.

The Three Mile Island accident of 1979, Chernobyl, and Fukushima were the three only major incidents concerning nuclear power plants in over 16,000 cumulative operating-years of commercial nuclear power plants to produce energy— a yearly failure rate of below 0.018%. Moreover, all three of these incidents trace the root of their complications back to poor management and planning.

Chernobyl, built in 1983, had inadequate plant-operators and a flawed Soviet reactor design.

The more recent Fukushima disaster, in which an earthquake and tsunami triggered a nuclear meltdown, was the result of human error. The Tokyo Electric Power Company (TEPCO) admitted that “it had failed to take stronger measures to prevent disasters.” Just like the operators in Chernobyl, TEPCO did not establish basic safety requirements such as risk assessment, preparation for containing collateral damage, and development of evacuation plans.

Though the disasters were horrific, they were all completely avoidable under adequate management. As such, modern nuclear power plants have progressed. With more technologically advanced and mechanically straightforward designs, future nuclear power plants are becoming increasingly capable of generating more power without the risk of a nuclear meltdown.

Faced with the growing issue of climate change, nuclear energy holds the greatest promise towards meeting the world’s energy needs—even in comparison to renewable energy sources such as wind, solar, and hydroelectric power. Unlike most power sources, not only can nuclear energy be produced on demand regardless of circumstances, but nuclear power also uses inexpensive fuel, the most compact waste and energy generation, and most importantly, as the Nuclear Energy Institute (NEI) acclaims, no greenhouse gas emissions.

Nuclear power plants also operate at above 90% of their maximum factory capacity: working for the longest periods while simultaneously taking advantage of the maximum amount of potential energy—even more so than coal and gas. Nuclear energy’s ratio of adaptability and versatility to its energy production far outclasses the niche markets of other industries.

The few downsides of nuclear energy include the relatively expensive construction of the factory, the waste containment facilities and fission containment chambers, where energy production occurs, and the limited availability of uranium, which is a popular material in nuclear power plants. Like fossil fuels, uranium cannot be reused and recycled after usage. However, plutonium, a renewable radioactive compound, is another popular fuel in nuclear plants. Although less energy-dense, plutonium can serve as a perfectly viable substitute for uranium. Additionally, even if the current nuclear power industry focuses on uranium alone, our supplies should continue to last for the next eighty to ninety years. At the moment, the potential feasibility that expanding the nuclear energy industry offers is much greater than that of any other energy source.

Although nuclear energy constitutes 20% of the total United States electricity production, the U.S is still behind. Countries such as France rely on nuclear energy for 75% of their gross energy consumption. On the other side of the spectrum, countries with little to no dependency on nuclear energy, like China, are investing billions of dollars into nuclear energy research and are planning to build numerous plants in the near future.

Regardless of the positive studies, a negative image continues to hinder nuclear energy’s advancement in the U.S. To solve this inevitable problem, we must have the capacity to embrace new findings and developments for every single issue in our modern era—including how to utilize superior energy sources.