Last week, Nature published a hefty piece about populations that would be at risk in the event of a nuclear accident. In the article, the authors outline nuclear plants around the world that are close to large population centers. According to their analysis, two-thirds of the world's 211 nuclear power plants have more people living within a 30-kilometer (18.6-mile) radius than the 172,000 people living within 30 kilometers of the Fukushima Daiichi plant. Uh oh. That doesn't sound good.
And it gets worse. Twenty-one plants have populations larger than 1 million within that radius, and six have populations larger than 3 million, including two in China and one in Pakistan. Eek.
Here in the Northeast, our biggest nuclear plant in terms of population proximity is New York's Entergy-owned Indian Point, which has 17 million people living within a 75-kilometer (46 miles) radius. Thanks to a nifty Google map accompanying the article, you can see exactly how Vermont Yankee stacks up against its nuclear brethren. While small by comparison, VY does have 150,000 people living within a 30-kilometer radius and 1.26 million people living within a 75-kilometer radius. Try evacuating that many people in the event of a meltdown. If that happens, I'm hightailing it to Bermuda where there are no nuclear reactors at all.
To check out a fun graphic illustrating our "nuclear neighbors," click here.
Photo via nature.com.