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NRC Study Lowers Hazard Estimate For Nuke Plants 168

JSBiff writes "With the incident at Fukushima causing much renewed concern about the risks of nuclear power this year, the NY Times brings news that the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission has released the preliminary version of a safety report due out in April 2012, based upon new science about the behavior of Cesium-137. The report finds that the public health hazards of nuclear accidents at the types of reactor designs currently in common use are lower than previously thought, based upon a better understanding of the science behind earlier estimates."
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NRC Study Lowers Hazard Estimate For Nuke Plants

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  • TFA (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Ironchew ( 1069966 ) on Monday August 01, 2011 @05:24PM (#36952840)

    TFA says that 1-2% of cesium 137 is likely to escape the core in the event of a containment breach, unlike 60% in previous estimates (Most of it dissolves in stagnant water or is deposited on the containment vessel surface). People living in a 10-mile radius would have enough time to evacuate, and cancer estimates within 10 miles went from 1 in 167 previously to 1 in 4348. A rainstorm happening during the meltdown can cause a higher dose to accumulate in small areas.

    • It's worth noting that the panel was considering the results of the most-likely mode of failure under average conditions and not a worst-case scenario. If a reactor managed to explode and destroy the containment vessels, I'm sure their earlier estimates of the death toll would still apply.

      The Fukushima accident suggests that Three-Mile-Island was actually more of a real disaster than a narrowly avoided one; a contained meltdown with some radiation release is a normal failure mode and not tremendously hazard

      • by AC-x ( 735297 )

        Sooner or later I'm sure a worst-case nuclear disaster will occur and the result will be a handful of acute radiation sickness deaths and a few million people who end up with a statistically-insignificant increase to their chances of getting cancer.

        A worst case nuclear disaster has already occurred, in 1986.

      • If a reactor managed to explode

        Reactors don't explode.

        Unless you pack them full of TNT or some such.

        • by fnj ( 64210 )

          Oh, the Chernobyl reactor didn't explode? I'll alert the media. They've been wrong all these years. Why didn't you tell them?

        • Re:TFA (Score:4, Informative)

          by danlip ( 737336 ) on Monday August 01, 2011 @10:36PM (#36955454)

          Chernobyl exploded - it was a steam explosion, not a nuclear explosion, but it was sufficient to blow apart the building and throw pieces of the core everywhere. Really much worse than a nuclear bomb, since a bomb would burn more of its fuel.

          And there might have been a small nuclear explosion too - there were 2 explosions, and the second might have been nuclear, although it certain isn't clear - the wikipedia article on the Chernobyl disaster discusses this. In any case, the damn thing exploded.

    • I am amazed that they were able to gather such specifics so quickly from the Fukushima accident when apparently even the Japanese government still seems to be clueless to the extent of cesium contamination (though, they continue to give out low-ball estimates that do not align with observations in the field . . .). Oh, or maybe this does NOT include lessons learned from Fukushima? Then why the peculiar timing? Perhaps this is just more industry damage control through PR efforts?

      In that case, I am not too
      • by EdZ ( 755139 )

        that do not align with observations in the field

        Observations by who? Measurements published by NISA and the IAEA (and freely available), or from 'independent' observers. Observers who often don't know the first thing about taking accurate measurements, haven't calibrated their equipment (or more commonly, don't even know it needs to be calibrated), have built their own detectors by blindly following plans on the internet, or all three. I'm all for community monitoring from competent amateurs, but I'd take any aggregate data from them with several metric

        • by Idou ( 572394 )
          Alright, yes, we should just let the "experts" take care of things, since they NEVER make mistakes []. Oh, and this is way too complicated for average citizens . . . readings at 20 meters should be just as accurate as at 1 meter [].

          No properties are selling within a 100 mile radius of the plant. You, being enlightened, should profit by buying cheap land from the stupid masses at a discount. You can start by buying my house. Though, I have yet to receive an offer from your ilk. Must have something to do with
          • by JSBiff ( 87824 )

            Real Estate prices have everything to do with mass fear among the populace, and prove nothing about the actual risks or hazards of living in the area. Real Estate is about A) Perceptions, and B) Economy (e.g. can anyone *afford* to buy a house, even if they want to).

            Your argument doesn't actually address the science in the report. It's just a statement of your lack of belief in the ability of any expert, ever, to make a correct determination based upon science. So, experts sometimes make mistakes, but that

            • You can buy real estate without living in it. And my EXACT POINT is that the populace is being blamed for overreacting, which means there is a mid to long term investment opportunity if you believe so (difference between market price and expected price). So, like so much of your ilk, your ideas are worth 10 minutes of your time, but not your money or economic actions. 10 miles from the plant? . . . you are so full of shit. Go peddle your BS somewhere else you clueless troll.
          • How much land?
            What's the asking price?
            How many neighbors are also looking to sell their land?
            Are they asking for comparable prices?

  • It will not get in the tabloids because lack of fear does not sell newspapers.

    It will not get in most of the adult newspapers because it win't fit the editorial stance that is either anti-technology because "green is good" or anti state control because they are so right wing they could only be seen as mainstream in the USA. Few people really want nuclear power run like Monty Burns one...

    This does not leave many other sources of information that "normal" people (not like the /. crowd) will hear.

    • Few people really want nuclear power run like Monty Burns one...

      I'd say that was a pretty efficient operation. You didn't even have to type in "Y-E-S" every time you wanted to vent off some gas to prevent an explosion.

  • we now know so much more about these 1 in 10,000 years types of meltdowns, because we've been so fortunate to get over 40,000 years worth in less than 50 years. Like winning the mega-millions lottery again and again and again.
    • There've been nearly 15,000 reactor-years of operation worldwide, not 50 years. So "one in ten thousand years" is a bit off, but not spectacularly.

      • by HiThere ( 15173 )

        Yes, but even though I *know* the they mean "reactor-years" in the same way as man-years, when they just say years I automatically read it as chronological years. And that's the proper way to read it. They say it that way because that's how they want you to read it.

        If they wanted you to understand reactor-years, that's what they'd say. They don't. They want you to think of it as a lot safer than it really is. Which is why I distrust their "revised report". It *may* actually be more accurate, but they

        • Yes, but even though I *know* the they mean "reactor-years" in the same way as man-years, when they just say years I automatically read it as chronological years.

          I don't.

          They say it that way because that's how they want you to read it.

          I doubt that. It's the same use of the words "100 year storm" which is considerd fit for consumption for the general public and widely used.

          How much should I trust them?

          Don't trust them at all. Examine the statistics. Decide for yourself.

          Would you prefer the technology that i

          • by HiThere ( 15173 )

            The data have been fudged. There are many minor incidents that are never reported, so the don't appear in the records. There have been safety violations that have gone unfixed for years. Were they important? I have no way of judging.

            Also plants are in the process of being re-licensed which have known safety problems, which are beyond their design life, and to operate at levels of power beyond what was specified for their safe operation when they were new. Some of them are the same model as that used in

      • Was being sarcastic because I'm pissed at carelessness, stupidity and greed that caused all the major accidents to date. But to be serious, we're talking about stats from something called the Rasmussen Study, which gave that number, and then said nine out of ten of those events would NOT have radiation emissions of consequence. But that major meltdown with release would be 1 in 100,000 per reactor-year of operation. That's actually kind of scary, we'd better put these gen II turds out of commission.
    • by roman_mir ( 125474 ) on Monday August 01, 2011 @05:38PM (#36953024) Homepage Journal

      No, the real outcasts of society are those, who are trying to hold economic and technological development of society back, from allowing that sort of development to help the society to become more wealthy and affluent by having more and cheaper and safer energy sources, and nuclear is that type of source.

      • by dave562 ( 969951 )

        and nuclear COULD BE that type of source.


        Without open and honest dialogue about the realities of the risks inherent with nuclear, and what must be done to mitigate them, nuclear will never be a viable option. The people who would conceal the risks and continually lower the safety standards are the societal outcasts. They are more focused on saving money and increasing profits than they are on running things safely and responsibly.

      • Safer and cheaper . . . the residents are so overjoyed by their new found wealth that they are literally killing themselves to rejoice.

        If you want nuclear technology, first build a proper system to protect and compensate those negatively impacted by the limitations of institutional governance and oversight. You can start by compensating my family and myself. Otherwise, STFU.
        • So I assume you can provide some form of evidence that anyone in Japan is dying as a result of Fukushima? Other than the guy who died of heatstroke, and the couple of guys in reactor 1 during the first hydrogen explosion, that is.

          Please note that heart attacks and strokes due to fearmongering hysteria don't count.
          • How much land have you bought around Fukushima, you fucking troll!? You think it is so safe, where is your fucking proof that you actually believe your own fucking bullshit?! Your views amount to you BSing on the web occasionally and then abandoning Fukushima, just like Chernobyl was abandoned by the industry years ago. You want to debate with the experts on the fact that radioactive contamination from Fukushima will cause an increase rate of cancer, be my guest, but do it some fucking other place, you loon
    • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

      by Anonymous Coward
      Meh... The first was about cases being made for engineering limits being changed over the course of years. Nobody was surprised. Typically hyperbolic writeup.

      The second was about British government PR campaign to contain uneducated hysteria about nuclear power generation. Yes, particularly important when you're looking to build a plant. Typical overstatement by press and (worse) /. summary. Zomg... it's a conspiracy... they're trying to kill us. Let's deal with facts for once, eh?

      The third simp
  • Like the astronomical cost required for a cleanup and that can for example negatively impact the economy with all the negative health effect that causes?

    Events of this type and impact magnitude always need to have all their negative impact looked at in a holistic fashion. Everything else is just lying with statistics.

  • The Fukushima plants were hit with a heavy earthquake. The ground they sat upon was lowered by something like 6 - 11 feet. The power lines that could have powered the coolant pumps were destroyed. A tsunami flooded the site and fouled the backup generators. The containment buildings exploded. The containment vessels cracked. On top of all that, the reactors are based on 40 year old designs.

    This is about as bad of scenario as one could imagine, yet there were no public deaths. That sounds to me like n

    • The Fukushima plants were hit with a heavy earthquake. ....

      This is about as bad of scenario as one could imagine, yet there were no public deaths.

      No, no public deaths. Most deaths will be private. And slow enough that it will be impossible to prove that the cancer was caused by the Fukushima accident and not by carcinogenic food additives, pollution, or background radiation (e.g. previous nuclear tests) - All of them cancer sources previously labeled insignificant by the industry, their paid stooges, and some stools on /. who call anyone who questions their 19yo wisdom an unscientific troll.

      • What I meant by private deaths is that some of the workers at the plant may have exposed themselves to a lot of radation while trying to resolve the crisis. They may die an early death.

        Since everyone dies, it is truly hard to say what the cause of death was decades after an event. Japan is a nation of smokers, and that is proven to be unhealthy. I can tell you do not like corporations (whatever 'the industry' is that does all these bad things), but one thing is clear: life expectancy has about doubled s

        • by iksbob ( 947407 )

          I can tell you do not like corporations (whatever 'the industry' is that does all these bad things)

          It's a phenomenon that results from the very definition of a capitalist economy. Businesses are created and motivated by the opportunity for profit. Profit is the business's revenue less their expenses. If a business can reduce their expenses, their profit increases. If protecting the public has an expense tied to it (as it generally does), not protecting the public will increase profits. The same is true of protecting workers. While free market forces would presumably push away workers and consumers if con

      • by 49152 ( 690909 )

        I agree completely with your conclusion, but this statement is misleading:

        "background radiation (e.g. previous nuclear tests)"

        Only about 3% of the background radiation originates from man made sources like medical radiation, nuclear testings and power stations.

        Almost all of it is from naturally occurring sources like radioactive minerals in the earth crusts, the sun or cosmic rays.

  • E.g. see the info at []

    The NRC is slow, weak and not well informed.

"The Avis WIZARD decides if you get to drive a car. Your head won't touch the pillow of a Sheraton unless their computer says it's okay." -- Arthur Miller