How Far Away is Safe from a Nuclear Meltdown?

Minor first-degree burns can occur up to 11 km (6.8 miles) away, and third-degree burns, which destroy and blister skin tissue, can affect anyone up to 8 km (5 miles) away. Third-degree burns that cover more than 24 percent of the body would likely be fatal if people don't get medical care right away. Those closest to the bomb would face death, while anyone within a distance of up to 5 miles could suffer third-degree burns. People who are up to 53 miles away may experience temporary blindness.

In addition to these accidents and the Chernobyl disaster, there have been about ten core melting accidents, most of them in military or experimental reactors. Most of them are listed in Appendix 2.None resulted in any danger outside the plant from the melting of the core, although in one case there was a significant release of radiation due to the burning of fuel in the hot graphite (similar to Chernobyl but on a smaller scale). The Fukushima accident should also be considered in that context, as the fuel was severely damaged and significant radiation emissions occurred outside the site. Conservative design criteria, which caused most energy reactors to be enveloped by massive containment structures with biological shield, has provided peace of mind in a suicide terrorist context.

Ironically, and as noted above, with a better understanding of what happens in an indoor core melting accident, it is now seen that they are not as necessary in that accident mitigation role as originally supposed. If you live near the plant but outside the 10-mile emergency planning zone, you will most likely not be asked or required to take protective measures. Stay tuned to local media for updated information and advice from your state and local officials. Despite understandable fears and speculation surrounding a nuclear war, Defense Secretary Ben Wallace said Putin's drafting was a battle of rhetoric.

Then we got on a big yellow school bus and drove, apparently, to a safe place outside the evacuation zone. However, after the United States Atomic Energy Commission published the General Design Criteria for Nuclear Power Plants in 1971, Russian PWR designs were adjusted. The Nuclear Energy Institute, the industry's lobbying group here in the United States, insisted on pointing out that the 50-mile zone was necessary in Japan, stating last week that it had “questions on the scientific basis to issue that notice.” It was preceded in 1999 by the Western European Nuclear Regulators Association (WENRA), a network of core regulators from EU countries with nuclear power plants and Switzerland, with members from 17 countries. Already in the late 1970s, the United Kingdom's Central Electricity Generation Board considered the possibility of a large, fully charged and fueled passenger aircraft being deliberately hijacked and crashed into a nuclear reactor.

Maryland's Calvert Cliffs Nuclear Power Plant is nearly 50 miles from Washington, DC, and is home to 500,000. They show that nuclear reactors would be more resistant to such attacks than virtually any other civilian installation — see Appendix. Japanese authorities have evacuated residents who live about 19 miles from the damaged Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant. The plan emerged from intensive consultations with Member States, but not with industry, and was described as a meeting point and plan to strengthen nuclear safety worldwide.

While this calculated frequency of core damage has been one of the main metrics for evaluating reactor safety, European safety authorities prefer a deterministic approach, focusing on the actual provision of backup hardware, although they also perform probabilistic safety analysis (PSA) for frequency of core damage, and require a 1 in 1 million core damage frequency for new designs. The International Nuclear Event Scale (INES) was developed by IAEA and OECD in 1990 to communicate and standardize the reporting of nuclear incidents or accidents to the public. The V-230 was designed before formal safety regulations were issued in the Soviet Union and lacks many basic safety features. Its objective is to legally commit participating States operating terrestrial nuclear power plants to maintain a high level of safety through the establishment of international benchmarks to which States would subscribe.

Contrary to popular belief, nuclear energy saves lives by displacing fossil fuels from the electricity mix. Heat is the main concern for those closest to a nuclear explosion, with people up to 6.8 miles away suffering first-degree burns and third-degree burns affecting anyone within a distance of up to 5 miles.