According to a new study the United States has underestimated the risks of nuclear accident at one of its nuclear plants and a single nuclear fuel fire could lead to fallout “much greater than Fukushima.”
According to the study, which was jointly carried out by researchers from Princeton University and the Union of Concerned Scientists and was published in the May 26 issue of Science magazine, if spent fuel at one of the 97 reactors currently in operation in the US was to catch fire, it has the potential to "dwarf the horrific consequences of the Fukushima accident."
After the March 2011 Fukushima Daiichi nuclear accident the US' Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) "ordered a “top-to-bottom” review of its regulations, and ultimately approved a number of safety upgrades, the study states. "It rejected other risk-reduction measures, however, using a screening process that did not adequately account for impacts of large-scale land contamination events. Among rejected options was a measure to end dense packing of 90 spent fuel pools, which we consider critical for avoiding a potential catastrophe much greater than Fukushima," it continues.
"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."