the Three Mile Island meltdown caused no significant environmental degradation or increased injury to any person, not even the plant operators who stayed on duty. It has been said that this lack of public impact was due primarily to the containment structure. But studies after the accident showed that nearly all of the harmful emission products dissolved in the water and condensed out on the inside of containment surfaces. Even if containment had been severely breached, little radioactivity would have escaped. Few, if any, persons would have been harmed.
To test how far the 10 to 20 metric tons of molten reactor penetrated the 13 cm thick bottom of the reactor vessel on which it rested, samples were machined out of the vessel and examined. The molten mass did not even fully penetrate the 0.5 cm cladding, confirming tests in Karlsruhe, Germany, and in Idaho, that the China Syndrome is not a credible possibility.
The accident at Chernobyl in 1986 is simply not applicable to American reactors. [ eg the GE designed reactors in question in Japan ] The burning graphite dispersed most of the fission products directly into the atmosphere. Even in that situation, with no evacuation for several days, the United Nations carefully documented investigation UNSCEAR-2000 reported that there were 30 deaths to plant operators and firefighters but no significant increase in mortality or cancer due to irradiation of the public have been observed.”
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