Accidents at Nuclear Power Plants
Like any large scale industrial activity, there have been numerous accidents and mistakes at Nuclear Power plants and reprocessing facilities. A partial list of these is available from this wikipedia link
However two large accidents have had the greatest impact on global consciousness regarding Nuclear Power. These are:
Here are additional links that describe the after effects of the Chernobyl accident.
The Chernobyl accident resulted from a lack of "safety culture" at the plant, design flaws in the RBMK reactor and a violation of procedure. The lessons learned from Chernobyl and the phasing out of the older reactor design means that an accident of this type is most unlikely to occur again.
Since the contained meltdown at Three Mile Island reactor, many improvements have been made to Nuclear Reactor design. The third generation reactors currently proposed are designed so that a failure leading to a contained core melt-down, (which would destroy the commercial value of the reactor) should occur at the rate of 1 in 2-million reactor-years
. If the cost of a new reactor is 2 billion dollars and operates for 60 years, this risk would amount to an extra $80,000 insurance.
After the events on September 11th, 2001, many people were reasonably concerned about the safety of nuclear power plants from terrorist activities. However the containment facilities of nuclear reactors
and the structures holding spent fuel rods
are very strong and make hard terrorist targets.
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