The experts accused the US Nuclear Regulatory Commission of having made an incorrect assessment of possible critical accidents at national nuclear power plants (NPPs) located in the US, Science News reported.
In particular, they noted that the commission ignored the fact that most nuclear power plants in the country have nuclear fuel in the immediate vicinity of nuclear waste.
The fires of that kind could be caused by various events, including an earthquake or a terrorist attack.
Scientists are confident that the catastrophe can be avoided if the commission applies necessary regulatory measures to nuclear power plants. However, the agency apparently faces difficulties in doing so, in particular because of the pressure from representatives of the nuclear industry, experts noted.
‘The NRC has been pressured by the nuclear industry, directly and through Congress, to low-ball the potential consequences of a fire because of concerns that increased costs could result in shutting down more nuclear power plants,' nuclear expert and co-author of the paper Frank von Hippel was quoted as saying.
According to experts, a fire at one of the nuclear power plants is capable of releasing enough radioactive material to destroy a territory over twice the size of the state of New Jersey. In this case, more than eight million people would be evacuated, while the economic damage from the fire would each two trillion dollars.