Work in progress
Samizdata is hosting a comment discussion on the idea that Green Party people, of which there are a few here in the states, might come around to the idea of expanding nuclear power. From this gamer's perspective, the cost/benefit breaks down like this:
1. A steady source of energy without a dependence on a politically volatile commodity.
2. Reduced emissions into the atmosphere. At the local level, decreased air-borne pollutants, regional decreases of chemical effects (acid rain), and globally with decreased levels of greenhouse gasses.
1. The generation of small amounts (comparatively) of vastly more potent waste. Namely, these would be spent fuel rods, reactor water, and reactor casings.
2. Potential release of region damaging, high-potency pollution. See Chenobyl and Three-Mile Island.
The key problem in this discussion is that, for most of the populace, the only knowledge comes from events twenty years out of date. Given that it was a Soviet reactor that blew at Chenobyl, that technology was twenty years behind the curve at that time. Either way, any assumptions made about nuclear technology that the public has is considerably out of date. This lack of information makes it nearly impossible to calculate the probabilities needed to make an accurate calculation of the costs of the risks.