On CNN Newsroom this morning, anchor Carol Costello spoke with national correspondent Jason Carroll about the potential for a nuclear disaster in Japan. Carroll noted that "some scientists say the best-case scenario at this point is that the situation in Japan ends up like Three Mile Island. . ." This possibility frightened the anchor:
COSTELLO: It's kind of crazy to me that we're hoping the outcome is like Three Mile Island. It's just so sad and scary.
Why? According to the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission, the 1979 accident at Three Mile Island "led to no deaths or injuries to plant workers or members of the nearby community." The average radiological exposure for 2 million people in the area was about one-sixth of that received from a chest x-ray. Moreover, ". . .comprehensive investigations and assessments by several well‑respected organizations have concluded that in spite of serious damage to the reactor, most of the radiation was contained and that the actual release had negligible effects on the physical health of individuals or the environment."
The accident at Three Mile Island was indeed the most serious in U.S. history. Changes were implemented that, it is believed, enhance safety. Yet the fact remains that no one died at Three Mile Island and the health effects were negligible. Hoping that the Japanese outcome is no worse isn't crazy.