Research press release


Nature Energy

Tennessee Valley nuclear shutdown affected air pollution and birth weight


今回E Severniniは、大気汚染と乳幼児の健康に対する、テネシー峡谷開発公社による1985年の2カ所の原子力発電所の閉鎖の影響を調べている。その結果、原子力発電所の運転停止に対応して、電力供給が1対1でテネシー峡谷の石炭火力発電所に移ったことが分かった。つまり、運転停止の結果生み出されなくなった電力を、原子力発電所の代わりに石炭火力発電所が供給していたと思われる。著者は、2カ所の原子力発電所が元々供給していた電力の大部分を生み出した石炭火力発電所がある諸郡で、粒子汚染(全浮遊微粒子で評価される)が増大していることを示している。さらに、粒子汚染の影響を最も大きく受けている諸郡では、その後の人生の行方を予想できる健康指標である平均出生時体重が、(原子力発電所の運転停止前(1983年9月から1985年3月)と停止後(1985年3月から1986年9月)に生まれた乳幼児の平均出生時体重を比べると)約134グラム、つまり5.4%減少していた。


関連のNews & ViewsでM Shellenbergerは、「Severniniは、こうした発電所から失われた電力が石炭火力発電に完全に置き換えられ、大気汚染が増大したことを明らかにしている」と書いている。

The shutdown of two nuclear power plants in the Tennessee Valley, USA, in the 1980s shifted electricity generation to coal-fired power plants, which substantially increased air pollution in the region. The study, published this week in Nature Energy, also finds that in counties that experienced the greatest increases in air pollution levels following the nuclear shutdown, average birth weight decreased by about 5%.

Edson Severnini investigates the effects of the closure of two nuclear plants by the Tennessee Valley Authority in 1985 on air pollution and infant health. He finds that in response to the shutdown, electricity generation shifted one-to-one to coal-fired power plants in the Tennessee Valley: each megawatt-hour no longer produced by nuclear power plants (as a result of the shutdown) seems to have been generated by coal-powered plants instead. The author shows that particle pollution (as measured by total suspended particulate) increased in counties where coal-fired plants produced large shares of the electricity originally generated by the two nuclear plants. Moreover, in the counties most affected by particulate pollution, average birth weight - a health indicator that can be used to predict later-life outcomes - decreased by about 134 grams, or 5.4% (when comparing average birth weight for infants born before nuclear shutdown (September 1983 - March 1985) to after shutdown (March 1985 - September 1986)).

The author suggests that decisions to phase out nuclear generation should be weighed against the negative impacts that fossil-fuel-powered electricity generation may have on environmental pollution, and, subsequently, on public health. Further research is needed to determine whether these findings would also apply in other parts of the USA or in other countries. Servernini also notes that although nuclear energy was replaced with coal in the Tennessee Valley, replacement with natural gas or even renewable energy would be more likely in the present day.

In an accompanying News & Views, Michael Shellenberger writes that: “Severnini shows that power lost from these plants was replaced entirely by coal-fired power generation, which increased air pollution.”

doi: 10.1038/nenergy.2017.51


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