Nuclear Energy

What is the Rasmussen report?

Dr. Norman Rasmussen (1927–2003) of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) conducted a study of nuclear reactor safety for the U.S. Atomic Energy Commission. The 1975 study cost $4 million and took three years to complete. It concluded that the odds against a worst-case accident occurring were astronomically large—ten million to one. The worst-case accident projected about three thousand early deaths and $14 billion in property damage due to contamination. Cancers occurring later due to the event might number 1,500 per year. The study concluded that the safety features engineered into a plant are very likely to prevent serious consequences from a meltdown. Other groups criticized the Rasmussen report and declared that the estimates of risk were too low. After the Chernobyl disaster in 1986, some scientists estimated that a major nuclear accident might in fact happen every decade.


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