The public health implications for a resurgence of nuclear power appear to have taken a subordinate position to the economic and global warming arguments that the industry has advanced to justify its expansion. The purpose of this essay therefore is several-fold: to review the scientific evidence for public health impacts of nuclear power, to assess occupational hazards faced by nuclear industry workers involved in the nuclear fuel cycle, to assess the evidence for nuclear reactor safety and critically challenge the underlying assumptions which may be less than adequate. It will also examine the public health risks of spent fuel from nuclear power reactors. The common thread linking these safety issues is the risk posed to public health by ionising radiation and in particular the cancer risk.