Authors: Piguet Frédéric-Paul 1i , Eckert Pierre ii, Knüsli Claudio iii, Deriaz Bastien iv, Wildi Walter v, Giuliani Gregory iv
i Institut Biosphère, Geneva; ii Geneva; iii IPPNW (Suisse), Luzern; iv Institute for environmental sciences, University of
Geneva; v Department F.A.-Forel, University of Geneva
Corresponding author: Frédéric-Paul Piguet, Institut Biosphère, CH-1226 Geneva, email@example.com
Additional experts and peer-review: This report has received the intellectual support from four anonymous experts and
the constructive critics of two peer-reviewers.
Commissioning Organization: Sortir du Nucléaire Suisse Romande
The present study discusses the probability of a major accident in a nuclear power plant and, by simulation of such an accident, it evaluates the harm to people. It aims at characterizing the health effects of ionizing radiation, and it assesses the number of people impacted by a radioactive cloud, and by the deposition of radioactive material on the ground. It further evaluates the number of people in need of a resettlement. It also analyses the size of the area lost for agriculture due to radio contamination.
More specifically, the Western European nuclear power plants (NPPs) under scrutiny are Beznau, Gösgen, Leibstadt and Mühleberg in Switzerland and Bugey in France. The study models a major nuclear accident using meteorological files, one for each day during the year 2017 with help of the trajectory and dispersion model Hysplit. The source terms of the simulated accidents are specific to each of the five NPPs. They represent an amount situated between the Fukushima and Chernobyl releases, according to available literature. Demographic data were treated by a geographical information system GIS software called QGIS. Conversion of radiation from Becquerel to Sievert was established according to the literature. Health effects were estimated from the committed collective effective dose (CCED), and used in connection with three risk models for different issues: cancer, cardiovascular and other non-cancer diseases, genetic and other reproductive detriments.
The main results are as follows: Between 16.4 and 24 million European inhabitants on average would be affected by a large radio-contamination. We found between 20,000 and nearly 50,000 radio-induced cancer cases, depending on the specific NPP. Additionally, between 7,500 and 18,500 radio-induced cardiovascular cases (myocardial infarction, cerebrovascular disease) are estimated as late effects of ionizing radiation. Stringent weather dependency of the numbers of victims were demonstrated with 4-fold and 20-fold differences for the highest and lowest deciles, and centiles respectively. The huge number of other radioinduced diseases, such as genetic and other reproductive effects could only be estimated semi-quantitatively due to lack of established risk factors. Furthermore, the number of people who should be evacuated and resettled could, on average, reach 250,000 for the smaller NPP (Beznau) and up to 500,000 for Leibstadt. In addition, the mean size of radio contaminated crop and grazing land could amount to between 16,000 and 37,000 km2. The impact of such an accident may heavily affect the population and economic activity of the concerned countries as well as creating a case of transboundary pollution.