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The risk of nuclear accidents has proven to be low in absolute and relative terms. Nevertheless, the high-energy density fission process and current technology make today’s reactors vulnerable to very severe albeit very rare accident scenarios. The three disasters experienced demonstrated the importance of site conditions, containment systems and severe accident management measures. Not being triggered by a single or combined technical failure in a classical sense, disasters experienced are partly explained as a product of five hierarchical levels of individual and societal human factors. The potentially severe consequences, including costs, of nuclear accidents have played a decisive role in the development of the nuclear power sector, and dominate nuclear risk analysis. However, in terms of cost or loss of life, these accidents are not singular—as other industrial and energy generation sectors have comparable severe accidents.
Despite this, there is a widespread and exceptional human dread of low level radiation exposure that prevents us from facing the real issue of how to improve world prosperity while burning less fossil fuel. To deal with this pragmatically, and operating on the principle that “nuclear power plant safety requires a continuing quest for gain in excellence”, we identify enhanced requirements to take the dread out of nuclear, and to rely less on social stability and long term husbandry of wastes.
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- Severe Accidents: Singularity of Nuclear Disasters?
- Chapter 5
Systemische Notwendigkeit zur Weiterentwicklung von Hybridnetzen