Energy Secretary Steven Chu's recent statements on CNN, intended to reassure the public about U.S. nuclear plant safety, scared the heck out of me.

Nobel Prize Winner Chu's dismissal of the risk of catastrophic accidents at U.S. nuclear plants is disingenuous at best, fundamentally dishonest at worst. His statement concerning "a breakdown in the safety system we design so that it's unlikely to occur once in maybe 10,000 years," seems like it must have been extracted (piecemeal) from studies like WASH 1400, done in 1975, which estimated the probability of a core meltdown at 1 in 10,000 plant years.

Plant years.

With 100 plants in the U.S. today, that's one meltdown every 100 years. I know the Nobel laureate can do the math.

Calculating for the 1,000 nuclear plants the U.S. industry wants to build, that's one meltdown every 10 years. Based on experience with U.S., Soviet and Japanese reactors, that figure seems to be holding true. And that is not cause for confidence.

- Mike Olszanski, LaPorte

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Porter/LaPorte Editor Doug Ross, an award-winning writer, has been covering Northwest Indiana for more than 35 years, including more than a quarter of a century at The Times.