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SeaTurtle's avatar

How many people died as a result of the Three Mile Island nuclear meltdown?

Asked by SeaTurtle (1179points) March 21st, 2011


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8 Answers

wundayatta's avatar

I don’t believe any did, although there is some question of whether some cancers were exacerbated by the accident.

ETpro's avatar

The numbers are uncertain, but for several years years after the disaster, there was a serious spike in infant and childhood mortality, and deaths from cancer in elderly people also spiked.

For Chernobyl, the numbers are far higher and continue to this day. Estimates vary. The Russians say 2,000. The UN estimated 4,000. The German Green Party and Greenpeace both put the toll in the range of 20,000 to 50,000 deaths. Perhaps the best estimate was provided by the IPPNW (International Physicians for Prevention of Nuclear Warfare) who estimated that, “more than 10,000 people are today affected by thyroid cancer and 50,000 cases are expected. The report projected tens of thousands dead among the liquidators. In Europe, it alleges that 10,000 deformities have been observed in newborns because of Chernobyl’s radioactive discharge, with 5000 deaths among newborn children. They also claimed that several hundreds of thousands of the people who worked on the site after the accident are now sick because of radiation, and tens of thousands are dead.”

wundayatta's avatar

@ETpro the question was about Three Mile Island, not Chernoble.

ETpro's avatar

@wundayatta I recognize that and answered about TMI first. I tacked on the info about Chernobyl because it gets at the underlying issue of how safe or unsafe nuclear power generation is. If the Mods feel I strayed too far off topic they can delete the part about Chernobyl or the whole response, in which case I will repost the portion about TMI, as I believe, with no offense meant to you, that it is a more accurate answer than the one you provided. The Nuclear Industry propaganda is that nobody was harmed, but it is not true.

ETpro's avatar

@Rarebear The study I linked to, while alarming and in definite contradiction to your answer, admittedly is the work of anti-nuclear crusaders. Under Further Studies here questions are raised, but no definitive answers provided.

WestRiverrat's avatar

There is currently no way to prove how much of the increased cancer rates and infant mortality are due to the radiation from TMI, and how much is from other causes.

I believe the number is somewhere between the anti-nuclear crusaders claims and the claims of the pronuclear crusaders.

The current situation in Japan is closer to a TMI incident than a Chernobyl. It is bad, but not as bad as most US news sources are claiming. It could get there, but it wasn’t at that level the last time I checked the news.

There were no deaths directly related to the TMI accident. How many are indirectly related can’t be accurately measured.

ETpro's avatar

@WestRiverrat That seems to be a fair assessment. The Daiichi Plant could end up being a terrible accident if the spent fule tanks in either of reactor 2 or 3 melt down, because both building have gaping holes in them from hydrogen explosions. The fires in reactor 2 and 3 today forced all workers to evacuate when radiation again spiked. As of an hour ago, they had not been able to return, but monitoring robots were deployed. I certainly hope they can get all the reactors cooled down and safe, but the situation remains potentially grave at this time.

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