As far as the accident at Chernobyl was worse than other accidents at nuclear power plants?

In the entire history, only two cases received tags.“Level 7” nuclear accidents according to the classification used by the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) to designate major events with widespread effects on health and the environment. The first accident - at the Chernobyl nuclear power plant - is considered the worst nuclear accident in the world. The second - on Fukushima - scientists often call even more destructive. The Three Mile Island accident occurred in the United States and received "Level 5". Let's compare them to each other.

The Chernobyl accident claimed more lives than the Fukushima accident

Although the assessment of human losses from nucleardisaster is a difficult task, the scientific consensus is that Chernobyl outperforms other accidents (we do not consider the use of nuclear weapons here) in destructiveness.

This disaster, which again began to discuss,thanks to the HBO series, it turned around on April 26, 1986, when the reactor core opened at the Chernobyl nuclear power plant and jets of radioactive material got into the air. Poisonous fumes not only polluted the local vegetation and water supply near Pripyat, but also poisoned nearby residents, some of whom developed cancer.

Within three months after the accident, more than 30 people died from acute radiation sickness. According to today's estimates of scientists, tens or even hundreds of thousands of people were seriously affected by the accident.

Fukushima was not as destructive - inanyway, if we start from what we know. On March 11, 2011, the Thouku earthquake and the resulting tsunami led to three meltdowns and multiple hydrogen explosions at the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear reactor in Japan. As a result, no one died directly from the explosions, but about 1,600 people died from stress (mostly elderly) after the accident.

The environmental impact has also been lessserious. A study conducted at the University of Colorado in 2013 showed that Fukushima station produced about 520 petakbekkereli radioactive material, compared with 5,300 petabekkerels released by the Chernobyl nuclear power plant. While Chernobyl radiation spread throughout Europe, much of Fukushima radiation fell into the Pacific Ocean.

"In the case of Fukushima environmental problemssomewhat different than with Chernobyl, ”said Claire Corhill, a nuclear waste disposal researcher at Sheffield University who helped clean up Chernobyl. Corhill says that millions of gallons of radioactive water are currently generated at the Fukushima site, which is currently stored in tanks, but the cleaning team is “doing very well”.

Three Mile Island was not so destructive

Chernobyl and Fukushima are in a separate category from Three Mile Island, which, according to Corhill, was "a completely different, not so terrible scale."

This incident occurred on March 28, 1979, whena system crash caused partial destruction of a reactor at a nuclear power plant in Three Mile Island, near Harrisburg, Pennsylvania. According to the World Nuclear Association, there were no deaths, injuries or adverse health effects as a result of this event, although some local residents disputed these findings.

About 36,000 people lived within 5 miles ofplant when the partial collapse occurred. Corhill says that the release of radioactive gases occurred at the station, but did not get into the environment. Therefore, the danger existed for the workers, but not for the general public.

The US Nuclear Regulatory Commission reportedthat about 2 million people were immediately exposed to radiation as a result of this incident, but the average radiation dose was lower than the dose received by an x-ray examination of the chest. However, the evacuation statistics was similar to Chernobyl. Both incidents had evacuation zones of about 30 kilometers, and in each of them more than 100,000 people left their homes.

Chernobyl accident was the worst nuclear in the world

It is worth taking into account that the residents of Three Mile Island returned home, eventually, but the residents of Pripyat did not.

There is still a rift zone in Chernobyl todaymore than 1500 square kilometers, which limits the access of tourists. But there are several families living there, and people over 18 are allowed to visit it, but most of the territory is still polluted.

The exclusion zone of Fukushima is much smaller: about 200 square kilometers. Most of the 200,000 evacuees returned, but 43,000 still remain outside, not wanting to return.

The Chernobyl accident is by far the worst of them all. The combination of the explosion, which released radiation into the air, and the fire that spread these radioactive particles for many kilometers, is terrible. So far, one can catch a “huge dose of radiation,” for example, in reactor number five — Corhill tells about such an incident.

"We had personal dosimeters, and suddenly mythe dosimeter just went berserk, ”she says. While the students on her tour wanted to find a source of radiation, Corhill decided to exercise caution. “I said no, let's just move on. I don't want to stand here for too long. ”

Read more why the Chernobyl accident could turn the exclusion zone into a paradise on earth.