Fukushima and the Future of Safe Energy in the United States
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Fukushima and the Future of Safe Energy in the United States David Richardson, PhD Andrew S. Kanter, MD MPH PowerPoint PPT Presentation

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Fukushima and the Future of Safe Energy in the United States

David Richardson, PhDAndrew S. Kanter, MD MPH

Occupational risks


Medical staff arrive at Fukushima Medical University Hospital to treat radiation exposed workers from Tokyo Electric Power Co.'s Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant, Fukushima City, Japan, March 24, 2011.

Photograph: Nuclear and Industrial Safety Agency/AP

Plant workers collect data in the control room for Unit 1 and Unit 2.

Environmental releases

Photograph: Reuters. Workers at the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant are continuing the efforts to make the stricken No 3 reactor safe.

Environmental releases

Photograph: EPA. Wednesday 23 March: A farmer looks on as radioactive milk is poured into the soil at a dairy farm in Mito town, Ibaraki prefecture

  • Variation over the life span in susceptibility to an exposure’s effect

Maternal Irradiation During Pregnancy


Other Malignant Disease


RR (95%CI)


RR (95%CI)








1.19 (0.65, 2.16)


1.15 (0.68,1.94)



1.92 (1.12, 3.28)


2.28 (1.31, 3.97)

Ionizing Radiation and Chilldhood Cancer: Oxford Survey of Childhood Cancer

Stewart, 1956

  • Variation over the life span in susceptibility to an exposure’s effect

Ratio of Observed to Expected Deaths

Cumulative Dose >=45 yrs

Adjusted for Dose < 45 yrs

Ratio of Observed to Expected Deaths

Lifetime Cumulative Dose

Alternative Descriptions of Age-at-Exposure Effects on Solid Cancer Incidence, Life Span Study, 1958-1998

Preston et al., Radiation Research, 168:1-64, 2007

Source: US Department of Energy, 1996

Nuclear Power Plants in the US

  • 104 operating nuclear power plants and 36 non-power reactors in the US

  • 11 operating plants in Northern Illinois

  • Produce 19% of the nation’s energy

Nuclear plant safety-Could it happen here?

  • Core protected by containment dome

  • Coolant supply critical and must be maintained after chain reaction shutdown (20,000-500,000 g/m)

  • Spent fuel pools vulnerable

Spent Fuel Storage

  • After 12-24 months in the reactor, fuel is offloaded into cooling ponds

  • Must remain until cool

  • More than 10x the radioactive material than the core (20-50 million curies Cs-137)-Chernobyl released 2 million curies

Accident/Attack at Braidwood

  • PWR producing 2500 MW at full power

  • 50+ mi SW of Chicago

  • Two scenarios:

    • Reactor vessel breach

    • Spent fuel pond fire

Analysis Tools

  • HPAC- Hazard Prediction and Assessment Capability from the Defense Threat Reduction Agency

  • CATS- Consequences Assessment Tool Set from the Federal Emergency Management Agency

Braidwood Scenario 1

  • Catastrophic coolant failure

  • Core exposed causing fire and breach

  • 4% of core/hr burned

  • Summer Day

  • Normal Temperatures

  • Broken Clouds

Braidwood Total Effective Dose Equivalent


South Bend

Fort Wayne

Braidwood Evacuation Area

Grand Rapids

Medical Consequences

  • The number of acutely ill people would overwhelm all available care facilities

  • Many facilities will not be available due to contamination:

    • 113 hospitals would fall within the occupational exposure zone (including two VA hospitals) affecting more than 32,000 potential beds.

    • Nearly 20,000 physicians in five counties would receive greater than occupational maximums for radiation exposure from the plume itself, let alone that from contaminated patients.

Medical Consequences

  • First responders, like firefighters would also be badly affected. The 25 firefighters of Essex Fire Department would possibly receive lethal doses, and the 67 firefighters of Braidwood and Herscher departments would be suffering from radiation sickness.

  • Another 10,500 firefighters in 355 other departments would have exceeded occupational exposures from the plume itself and would be unavailable to respond within the highly contaminated area. Police departments would also be hard hit in Essex, Braidwood and Herscher with the 38 police officers receiving potentially lethal doses of radiation.

Indian Point Comparison

  • 3,500-44,000 immediate deaths

  • 100,000-500,000 long term deaths due to cancer

  • Economic damages within 100 mi range from $1.1-2.1 trillion

Carbon and Nuclear Free Future


12 Recommendations

  • Enact a physical limit of CO2 emissions for large users of fossil fuels

  • Eliminate all subsidies / tax breaks for fossil fuels /nuclear power

  • Eliminate subsidies for biofuels from food crops

  • Build demo plants

  • Leverage federal, state and local purchasing power

  • Ban new coal-fired power plants w/o CCS

  • Enact at the federal level high efficiency standards

  • Enact stringent building efficiency standards

  • Enact stringent efficiency standards for vehicles

  • Reward early adopters ofCO2reductions

  • Adopt vigorous research, development, and pilot plant construction

  • Establish a standing comm. on Energy and Climate

For More Information

  • R. Alvarez et al., “Reducing the Hazards from Stored Spent Power-Reactor Fuel in the United States,” Science and Global Security 11 (2003): 1-51.

  • D. Hirsch, “The NRC: What, me worry?,” Bulletin of Atomic Scientists58(1): 38-44.

  • E. Lyman, “Chernobyl on the Hudson?,” Union of Concerned Scientists, September 2004: 1-54.

  • Http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=COmNdgHr628

  • http://www.ieer.org/carbonfree/summary.pdf

  • Visit PSR’s website at:

  • http://www.psr.org

  • or contact PSR at:

  • 1875 Connecticut Avenue, NW, Suite 1012Washington, DC, 20009Telephone: (202) 667-4260Fax: (202) 667-4201

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