However, in its Indian Point relicensing proposal, owner Entergy finally reevaluates some of the numbers. The effects of a bad accident are minimized, according to an AP analysis of those numbers: no more than 2,130 cancer deaths and only $117 billion in economic damages.
Plant spokesman Jerry Nappi went even further when pressed. Contrary to the calculations of planners, he said he didn't "believe a scenario like this is credible or perhaps even possible" with all the protections built into the plant. As for a 50-mile evacuation encompassing New York, he said a 10-mile radius "is already a very conservative planning zone."
Nuclear planners gave similar confident reassurances about their tsunami planning in Japan. And the BP emergency plans left out Gulf of Mexico oil spill scenarios that occurred, even though they supposedly couldn't happen.
Meanwhile, the NRC's partner, Sandia National Laboratories, has again been studying the impact of accidents. The work is still under way, but researchers have tentatively concluded that reactor defenses will work way better than believed in the 1980s.
NRC officials say the conclusion stems from decades of additional research and sophisticated computer modeling. But they also wrap their equations in a ribbon of rosy assumptions:
•Accidents will develop more slowly than thought.
•Buildings designed to contain radiation leaks will hold.
•Emergency plans will work.
•Responders will do their jobs.
•Ninety percent of those told to stay put will obey.
"The magnitude of possible releases from these accidents is much smaller than originally thought," said NRC spokesman Scott Burnell in a preview of the conclusions expected to take final form by 2012.
[link to www.usatoday.com
- very illuminating article.