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Learning From Chernobyl

Courtesy Reuters

The accident last April at the Chernobyl nuclear power plant demonstrates that planning conducted at a national level alone cannot eliminate the risks posed to all nations by nuclear energy. In the aftermath of the Chernobyl accident, an attitude of "business as usual" will not sustain the atomic power industry worldwide.

The scope of the challenge to make nuclear energy production safer is even greater than that shown by the well-known accidents at Chernobyl and the Three Mile Island plant in the United States. Between 1971 and August 1984, two "significant" and 149 "potentially significant" mishaps occurred in 14 industrial nations outside the two superpowers. Even aside from the danger of accidents, the normal operation of nuclear power plants presents problems. These include the management of materials—plutonium and weapons-grade enriched uranium—which could be diverted for non-peaceful use by nations and terrorists, and the possibility of sabotage and military attacks on power plants.

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