30 years ago on this day the nuclear accident of Chernobyl brought the risks of nuclear energy production closer to the European population. Alongside the United States, Europe has the most dense network of nuclear power plants in relation to its population, as the below map shows. Of the producers of nuclear power in Europe, France (17.1%) and Russia (7.0%) are the largest when comparing it to the global share (France comes second after the USA). The United Kingdom’s production accounts for 2.9%. In contrast, France generates the largest share of its domestic electricity generation from nuclear power (74.4%) worldwide. It is followed by Sweden (43.4%) and Ukraine (43.0%), while the United Kingdom comes fifth with 19.2%.
The cartogram shown above displays locations of nuclear power plants in Europe taken from an IAEA database of nuclear reactors published by the Center for International Earth Science Information Network (CIESIN) at Columbia University. This database includes facilities which are at varying stages of decommissioning which is a time-intensive and expensive process due to its continuing hazards.
In addition to the locations of the nuclear plants, circles of 20/30 and 80 kilometre distances are drawn around as the immediate risk zones. The underlying basemap uses a gridded cartogram based on equal population projection to put the differing exposures of populations into perspective. Each circle of equal distance is resized relative to the number of people living in the vicinity of each nuclear power plant. The locations of the most severe incidents above INES level 5 that happened in Europe are highlighted in the map, including the Chernobyl disaster which happened 30 years ago.
This map is an extract from a world map showing the locations and populations of nuclear power plants which was published in the May 2016 issue of Geographical Magazine published by the Royal Geographical Society. The feature in the magazine shows not only the full global picture, but also shows a more detailed perspective of nuclear facilities and their nearby populations the United Kingdom.