/ THE CHERNOBYL
ACCIDENT — CAN IT
It is very difficult to predict the future of scientific developments, and few would even dare to make predictions extending beyond the next 50 years. However, based on everything we know now, one can make a strong case for the thesis that nuclear fission reactors will be providing a large fraction of our energy needs for the next million years. If that should come to pass, a history of energy production written at that remote date may well record that the worst reactor accident of all time occurred at Chernobyl, USSR, in April of 1986.
In that accident, a substantial fraction of all of the radioactivity in the reactor was dispersed into the environment as airborne dust—its most dangerous form. It is difficult to imagine how anything worse could happen to a reactor from the standpoint of harming the public outside.
In the wake of the Chernobyl accident, the primary question on American minds was—can it happen here? Let us try to answer that question.
We have just seen how extremely improbable an accident of that