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A large proportion of the discussion on nuclear power is centered around the possibility of a ‘severe accident’ at a power station. More specifically, the infamous accident at Chernobyl reactor No.4 is the first thing that comes to mind when the topic is raised.
Opponents of nuclear power often highlight claims made about the projected casualties of the accident. Some proponents of nuclear power suggest that other than the immediate casualties of the blast and the clean-up there is little evidence of any further deaths caused by the accident. The claims range from 56 to 945,000 fatalities as a result of the subsequent release (The World Health Organization estimates 9,000 worldwide early deaths will occur as a result of elevated radiation levels across Europe).
In this article, I wish to discuss the likelihood (If any) of an accident similar in consequence to Chernobyl happening in a modern reactor, of a design most likely to be built here in the UK over the next 10 years.