2013-06-07 The Consequences of Major Nuclear Releases

The consequences of the Chernobyl and Fukushima nuclear releases are horrendous. Yet the 'worst-case' nuclear releases are 100 times greater, with far worse consequences. This is shown by three reports below, originating from within the nuclear 'community'. So the UK siting criteria are wholly inadequate and almost all the citizens of Britain are threatened by the existing and proposed nuclear power plants. In the words of Dr John Gofman, this is 'licensing random premeditated murder'.

Moreover such releases are inevitable, yet nuclear power incurs huge energy debts and money costs, for clean-up, decommissioning, and the storage of radioactive waste for ever. Thus the existing plants must be phased out forthwith and the proposed plants abandoned. However, energy efficiency and renewable energy, especially from wind, offers truly safe and sustainable solutions without such costs.

Meanwhile Switzerland and Germany have set dates for phasing out their nuclear power plants and Japan shut down all their nuclear power plants, with all turning to energy efficiency and renewable energy supply. The German case is particularly relevant to the UK, since it is larger and more industrialised, with a higher proportion of nuclear power, while the wind resource – though ample – is less than that of the UK. Yet their nuclear phase-out should be complete by or before 2022. The 'Energiewende' (turn to energy efficiency and renewables) will increase their energy security and employment, while reducing the costs of imported oil, gas, coal and uranium. Moreover, a strong home market will be a showcase for exporting such products and services worldwide. Unlike nuclear technology, such exports can be unrestricted and so materially mitigate climate change.

When researching my studies 'The Case Against Nuclear Power', 'The Real Lessons of Fukushima' and subsequently, I found accounts of three reports on the Consequences of Major Nuclear Releases that originate from within nuclear circles:

  1. That from the UK Nuclear Installations Inspectorate, the forerunner of the Office of Nuclear Regulation, after Fukushima: Guardian. 'UK government's Fukushima crisis plan based on bigger leak than Chernobyl', 2011-06-20. and Nuclear Installations Inspectorate, '(Worst Case Release Involving Three Reactors and Six Cooling Ponds)', No Date.

  2. That from Shunsuke Kondo, chairman of the Japan Atomic Energy Commission, as required by the then Prime Minister, Naoto Kan, after Fukushima:
    Asahi Shimbun. 'Government envisioned Tokyo evacuation in worst-case scenario'. 2012-01-07.

  3. That from the IRSN (the French Institute for Radiological Protection and Nuclear Safety), in 2007-2012: IRSN, 'Massive radiological releases profoundly differ from controlled releases', 2012.

    3.3 Huge losses

    In total, a typical major accident could cost more than € 400b, i.e. more than 20% of annual French GDP, more than 10 years’ economic growth. For lack of other references, this can be compared to the cost of waging a regional war. The country would durably be stunned by such a blow, History would remember the catastrophe for many years, Western Europe would be affected.

    Two impacts would combine: the country would be irradiated and, in addition, would face extremely heavy losses. In all probability, this would lead to profound political and social transitions'.


    LeJDD, 'Le scénario noir du nucléaire', 2013-03-10. Where the first link discusses a 'median case' (€ 400bn), this discusses a 'base case' (€ 760bn) and a 'worst case' (€ 5800bn).

    'Dans ce cas extrême, 5 millions de personnes doivent être évacuées sur une zone de 87.000 km², équivalant à la superficie des régions Aquitaine et Midi-Pyrénées réunies. L'évacuation, le relogement, la décontamination des sols mais aussi le traitement des déchets coûteraient 475 milliards d'euros.

    [In the worst case, 5 million people would require evacuation from an area of 87,000 km2. The cost would be 475 billion euros].

    Le plus lourd tribut découle de l'impact économique sur la zone contaminée au césium 137, où habitent 90 millions de personnes. Une région de 850.000 km², qui correspond à la superficie de la France et de l'Allemagne. L'indemnisation des agriculteurs, des salariés, des entreprises, mais aussi les coûts environnementaux et les dépenses de santé explosent à 4.400 milliards d'euros'.

    [The fallout of cesium 137 would contaminate an area with 90 million people, of 850,000 km2. The additional cost would be 4400 billion euros].

    The geographical extents of the 'base case' and 'worst case', together with the long-term health effects, are shown in the map at the end of the article. For the worst case, the fallout of radioactive cesium 137 reaches as far as London. Also, there are many French nuclear plants even nearer to the UK.

All three reports show that the consequences of major nuclear accidents are horrendous. So the UK Government's failure to alert both the Parliament and people to these is a gross betrayal of trust.

2013-06-07 The Consequences of Major Nuclear Releases
The consequences of the Chernobyl and Fukushima nuclear releases are horrendous. Yet the 'worst-case' nuclear releases are 100 times greater, with far worse consequences.