Major reactor accidents of nuclear power plants are rare, yet the consequences are catastrophic. But what is meant by “rare”? The results of a new study indicate that previously the occurrence of INES 7 major accidents and the risks of radioactive contamination have been underestimated. Scientists at the Max Planck Institute for Chemistry in Mainz (Germany) have calculated that such events may occur once every 10 to 20 years (based on the current number of reactors) – some 200 times more often than estimated in the past.
If a single nuclear meltdown were to occur in Western Europe, around 28 million people on average would be affected by contamination of more than 40 kilobecquerels per square metre. This figure is even higher in southern Asia, due to the dense populations. A major nuclear accident there would affect around 34 million people, while in the eastern USA and in East Asia this would be 14 to 21 million people. – from Nuclear Monitor, 1st June 2012, No. 750. www.nirs.org
AFTER 3 MILE ISLAND (USA), CHERNOBYL (USSR) AND FUKUSHIMA (JAPAN) : SIZEWELL ?