A new assessment by the Nuclear Regulatory Commission of the potential consequences of a nuclear power plant meltdown (the details of which have come to light pre-publication via the Union of Concerned Scientists and the New York Times) finds far lower numbers of people can expect to get cancer in the event of a disaster than previously estimated.
The conclusion, to be published in April after six years of work, is based largely on a radical revision of projections of how much and how quickly cesium 137, a radioactive material that is created when uranium is split, could escape from a nuclear plant after a core meltdown. In past studies, researchers estimated that 60 percent of a reactor core's cesium inventory could escape; the new estimate is only 1 to 2 percent.
One person in every 4,348 living within 10 miles would be expected to develop a "latent cancer" as a result of radiation exposure, compared with one in 167 in previous estimates.
Much more: New York Times
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