THERE is a million to one chance of an accident at a nuclear power station killing people living near by, Britain's safety watchdog said yesterday in a review of radiation hazards, writes Steve Connor.
It would need about 30 modern nuclear power stations to produce a risk equivalent to that from the chemical storage complex on Canvey Island in Essex, the Health and Safety Executive said.
The 'Canvey factor' is used to compare the lethal risks from nuclear power, the safety executive said. So far as it can be calculated 'a programme of between 20 and 50 modern nuclear reactors would have a similar chance of causing death to some hundreds of people as the installations on Canvey Island', its report says.
John Rimington, director of the safety executive, said: 'The Canvey accident is an accident that would kill 1,500 people either straight away or soon after through traumatic injury.' A nuclear accident of an equivalent scale would kill between 100 and 1,000 people over many years, largely from radiation-induced cancer, he said.
Members of the public are exposed to a million-to-one risk from such an accident at a nuclear installation that is run normally. The maximum risk to which the safety executive has asked the nuclear industry to conform is one in 10,000, and one in 100,000 for new nuclear stations.
'Such a level would . . . equate to the average annual risk of dying in a traffic accident,' the report says. The safety executive is unable to estimate the risks for older nuclear power stations.
The Tolerability of Risk from Nuclear Power Stations; HMSO; pounds 12
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