Inderscience Publishers

A demonstration of the comparative radiological safety of commercial nuclear power generation in the USA

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The most emotionally gripping topic of the debate over expansion of commercial nuclear power in the USA centres on the threat of radiological harm to the public from a commercial nuclear power plant accident. The perseverance of the radiation fear issue is reviewed herein, followed by summarisation of the expanded knowledge of reactor safety over the last 30 years. Analyses of maximum population radiation doses from a worst-case, credible accident at a current US reactor and from a terrorist attack on a nuclear spent fuel storage or transportation system are developed, with 50-year population doses of 1.3 million person-cSv and 5500 person-cSv, respectively, as maximum risks, if these events are modeled on the same bases as the accident outcomes at the Chernobyl Nuclear Power Plant unit 4. The study demonstrates such outcomes are significantly below what actually results from many non-nuclear industries in the USA that have existed for decades and whose radiological characteristics have not been, and likely will never be, regulated. Such information can be used for informing public and political stakeholders in the USA having safety concerns about commercial nuclear power to reduce fear and improve knowledge.

Keywords: comparative safety, radiological safety, commercial nuclear power, nuclear energy, credible accident release, population radiation doses, USA: nuclear accidents, spent fuel storage, United States, spent fuel transportation, spent nuclear fuel, credible sabotage events, terrorist sabotage attacks, maximum radiological release, nuclear safety, nuclear power plants

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