Charles Perrow, Sociologist and Organisation Theorist, USA

“Nuclear power plants should be banned.”

Charles B. Perrow is an organisation theorist and sociologist. In his book Normal Accidents. Living with High-Risk Technologies, published in 1985 just shortly before the disaster in Chernobyl, Perrow warned of the inevitability of catastrophic accidents in closely linked and complex systems. These accidents can be explained as the interaction of a whole series of bad decisions, and such mistakes can appear for various and, above all else, unpredictable reasons.

“Some experts claim that the effect of low doses of radiation are too low to even measure. I vociferously disagree. It’s of course extremely difficult to estimate how many people around the world will die as a result of Chernobyl or Fukushima. There are many other causes that would lead someone to die an early death. And because of the low number of cases, it’s also very difficult to prove whether low doses of radiation are responsible for a significant proportion of prenatal deaths. But despite these methodological difficulties, no one can seriously doubt that the entire world is affected by the radioactive fallout. This cannot simply be explained away with such arguments. But the nuclear industry and the International Atomic Energy Agency are doing everything possible to play down these risks.


In the United States, coal-fired power plants are responsible for thousands of deaths – each year. The number of deaths could be reduced significantly with stricter limits and better technologies to reduce pollutant emissions. But the deaths caused by coal-fired power plants are almost negligible in light of the Chernobyl and Fukushima disasters. It’s not possible to reduce radiation when it comes to nuclear energy. It’s not possible to reduce the risk of a meltdown. As bad as the massive nuclear disaster in Fukushima was, it could have been much worse. And it’s still not over. Additional radionuclides could still be released from the damaged reactors 2 and 3. And f the reactor site can no longer be entered due to the radiation, then it will no longer be possible to keep cooling the 6,000 fuel elements. This could mean evacuating the northern hemisphere. The worst might still await us. The risks that we take with nuclear energy are too high. Nuclear power plants should therefore be banned.”