France has had a successful and safe nuclear power generating system for decades, and in fact it is that country’ s primary electric generation method. Over the years it has enabled France to actually sell electricity to its neighbors.
The fear over nuclear contamination is somewhat exaggerated. There are environmental and health dangers from any kind of power generation in quantity, with the possible exception of hydroelectric.
As disturbing and tragic as the Japanese situation is, it’s important not to jump to any conclusions about the effectiveness and safety of nuclear power generation generally. It may be that the particular design of the affected plant is flawed.
The media do like to play up disasters and tap into people’s fears: people turn on the TV and buy newspapers, even now. They have cultivated an almost superstitious leeriness regarding nuclear energy going back to the 1950’s.
I’m not saying there’s no cause for concern. Don’t get played, though.