Fission nuclear power plants should be shut down and replaced with clean renewables like solar and wind. Running the risk of a disaster similar to Fukushima (and that risk does exist) is an unwise way to continue generating electricity.
In fact, based on the examples of Fukushima and the 1986 Chernobyl meltdown, the scientists found that millions of residents would likely have to relocate in the instance of an event in the U.S., and that cleanup time would take much longer than one year, as the NRC concluded. That would result in $2 trillion in damages, they found—nearly 20 times the NRC’s estimate.
“Unless the NRC improves its approach to assessing risks and benefits of safety improvements—by using more realistic parameters in its quantitative assessments and also taking into account societal impacts—the United States will remain needlessly vulnerable to such disasters,” the article states.
Moreover, under the Price Anderson Act of 1957, the nuclear industry is only legally liable for $13.6 billion, the researchers said, meaning U.S. taxpayers would have to cover remaining recovery costs.
“The NRC has been pressured by the nuclear industry, directly and through Congress, to low-ball the potential consequences of a fire because of concerns that increased costs could result in shutting down more nuclear power plants,” von Hippel said. “Unfortunately, if there is no public outcry about this dangerous situation, the NRC will continue to bend to the industry’s wishes.”
The article comes just weeks after a tunnel used to store highly radioactive contaminated waste at the Hanford Nuclear Reservation in southeast Washington state collapsed, triggering a state of emergency.