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A.V. Turchin.

The worst scenario for nuclear power plant disaster and

the risk of human extinction (Ines 8 = human extinction)

Version 0.802 (translation from Russian)

Disclaimer: This is a very preliminary version of the text, written in hot
pursuit in March 2011 after the accident at Fukushima. The text does contain many
errors and very quick conclusions, and published only for the subsequent
discussion, but not as a final conclusion. I am not a nuclear physicist, and I use
estimates from open sources. I am not associated in any way with the nuclear
industry. I am not an activist of Greenpeace and do not call for complete
abandonment of nuclear energy.

The purpose of this article is to consider whether the accident at a nuclear

power could lead to the existential risk (see N.Bostrom article “Existential risks”)
– that is, to the extinction of mankind, or substantial damage to its building.
In the article will be considered "extremely worst" options. That is, in all
cases where there is uncertainty of our knowledge, will be taken the worst score.
Maximum worst-case scenario is certainly worse than any real catastrophe that
may occur. The study of these scenarios gives an upper bound for disaster. If you
find that the maximum worst-case scenario in some object does not lead to global
catastrophe, then this system can be called "inherently safe" in respect of global
Note that there are frequent disasters which are worse than the worst
imaginable case. For example in 2001, terrorists seized and sent into the buildings
4 aircraft, while the worst case was considered a seizure of the one aircraft. In 2011
Fukusime suffered an accident with 4 reactors (7 objects more precisely, if we
assume that spent fuel ponds, and possibly more, given the problems at other
reactors), while the worst-case scenario was considered an accident with one
In the article are considered only possible accidents with nuclear plants, and
it does not address other risks that may be related to nuclear weapons: uncontrolled
nuclear proliferation, the Doomsday Machine in the form of a cobalt bomb, nuclear
winter/summer, giant planets detonation, artificial supervolcano explosions and so
on. About them, see my book "Structure of global catastrophe".

Hypothetical scenarios of disasters that could have global implications

I list all possible scenarios that could have global consequences, and then
assess which of them may actually lead to global catastrophe and with what
1) A nuclear attack on the nuclear power plant with missiles with nuclear
2) The explosion of a small nuke inside the station, brought by a terrorist.
3) "Devil's pipe" - a continuous separation of isotopes as a result of
accidental chain reaction in the ruins of a reactor.
4) Penetration to the Earth core by melted reactor core - corium ("China
5) The explosion of hydrogen and combustion of spent nuclear fuel in spent
fuel storage. Global contamination of food chain by cesium-137
6) The collapse of technological civilization, as a result of a systemic crisis,
associated with not developing new technologies, radiophobia, economic crisis, the
evacuation of the population, rise in price of food, lack of energy.
7) An explosive release of all nuclear energy, located at the station, as well
as thermonuclear reactions in heavy water (deuterium) in the heavy water reactor.
8) The destruction of several large nuclear power plant under a water dam,
or other natural disasters, leading to massive destruction of nuclear plants. For
example, the explosion of a supervolcano, supereartquake, tsunami (as in Japan in
2011 but worse), the fall of an asteroid into the ocean.
9) Radicals who want to create a nuclear Doomsday weapon come to power
in a country with nuclear plants. Alteration of nuclear power plants for producing
large quantities of dangerous isotopes and then explosion of it.
10) Turn off electricity across the earth as a result of a certain global
cataclysm, which leads to a loss of cooling at all nuclear power plants. For
example, super-flash on the sun can lead to global disruptions of the electricity. Or
a world war, or the effects of medium-sized asteroid (1 km).
11) The underestimation of long-term effects of radiation on humans and the
12) Distribution of nuclear power plants around the world leads to a sharp
increase in the spread of nuclear weapons, primarily due to the fact that reactor-
grade plutonium could come how be use for military purposes, as well as by the
general spread of nuclear technology, which then leads to an increase in other
nuclear risks.

For disaster risk assessment, we need to know two parameters: the total
content of nucleotides in nuclear power plants, and the magnitude of
contamination, which can lead to global consequences.
We take two main sources of information:
“Importance of severe accidents radiological releases and definition of large
damage”. International Journal of nuclear power, Jule
2005. Next - st.2005
And «Spent Nuclear Fuel Inventories at Commercial US Nuclear Plants».
Next - st. 1994.
Source st2005 shows that the expected number of casualties after complete
destruction of a modern reactor is about 200 000 people, divided into three groups:
the direct victims of irradiation (540 people) and cancer victim from fast living
isotopes and long-lived isotopes. But this numbers are subject to the evacuation
from areas of infection.
The main difference between this and the global catastrophe is that in case of
global catastrophe mass evacuation is not possible.
St2005 argues that the 1.7 * 10 ** 20 is a total number of decays in the
reactor one hour after the stop or approximately 2 billion curies. (And Chernobyl
release was only about 50 million curies).
Radiation can lead to the extinction of humans in several ways, in order of
decreasing doses:
1) Death from acute radiation sickness (1000 rem per week)
2) Death due to prolonged exposure (10 years), high doses of radiation (100
rem/year), the consumption of contaminated foods. The internal effects of radiation
are 10 times stronger than external training, and beta emitters are dangerous only
when eaten. Causes: cancer, weakened immunity and premature aging.
3) Sterility.
4) The increased level of mutations leading to the total genetic degradation
over several generations.
5) The crop failure, hunger. Banned food production (10 curies per square
6) The emergence of dangerous "mutants" in nature - predators, bacteria and
viruses - this story came from science fiction.

This should take account of the isotopes, which have the greatest ability to
accumulate in the human body. Unfortunately, the main reactor isotopes have the
ability to linger in the body. This is iodine, cesium, strontium and plutonium.

The main threat in case of any global catastrophe, as I showed in "Structure

of global catastrophe" is not the source of death, but means to transport it to all
people on Earth. In the case of radioactive contamination in such vehicles is the
Earth's atmosphere. Earth's atmosphere is stirred for about 20 days, at least in the
northern hemisphere. The worst case scenario involves the formation of particulate
matter, which falls from the air evenly across the surface of the Earth. To do this,
such a suspension should get into the stratosphere, which moves faster, and longer
holding particles (like soot in a "nuclear winter"). To this end, the contents of the
reactor should evaporate up. Ideally suited for this is nuclear explosion (but also
firestorm, falling asteroid).


1. Nuclear attack by missiles

The worst possible scenario: During the war, ballistic and cruise missiles
used on all nuclear facilities (reactors and spent fuel storage facility) in all
countries. Reactors in time of the attack are operating.
Attack by the missiles will lead to a full nuclear fuel spray and spread it over
long distances in the atmosphere. Flux of neutrons in a nuclear explosion can cause
nuclear reactions in the reactor core.
The total activity of spent fuel in the U.S. in 1994, according to st1994, was
about 7 billion curies, and most of this activity was in the strontium-90, cesium-
137 and plutonium-241 with the time decay of about 30 years. World Total SNF in
the year 2011 may be 5 times more, ie 35 billion curies.
"According to the IAEA, by 2006 from nuclear power reactors (and their
world more than 400) were unloaded around 260 000 tonnes of spent nuclear fuel
containing more than 150 billion Curie of radioactivity" [Karpai 2006].
With a uniform spray 150 billion curies we get 300 curies / sq km land
surface. This is far beyond the norms of alienation and a ban on farming practices
on Chernobyl. Rough equivalent of (empirical formula - 1 curie per square meter.
gives 10 roentgen per hour, 1 curiу per square km. - 10 mkr. / h) is a breed of
activity of 3 milliroentgen per hour. This is not enough for instant death, as is only
about 2 rem in a month, and the maximum safe dose of 25 X-rays will be typed
only for the year. However, such an area for a long time (in the SNF many long-
lived elements, including plutonium) become unfit for agriculture, as these
substances accumulate in vegetation and in animals, and the subsequent use of the
meet lead to strong impact on the human body. In other words, the survivors will
not be able to farm and will be doomed to gradual deterioration of the diseases.
Still it will not be “guaranteed human extinction” because people are very adaptive
and tenacious, if, of course, do not intervene there any other factors.
Based on the st2005 - 30 million curies of cesium give 45,000 cases of
cancer (but including resettlement). Simple proportion here gives 200 million
expected cases fatal cancer from 150 billion curies.
In addition, 400 reactors on Earth will be located approximately 2 billion
curies of activity on each. That is 800 billion, most of which will fall on a short-
lived isotopes. Explosions quickly will lay the short-lived isotopes over a large
area, so that they will have time to act. Plus activity themselves explosions.
The most difficult to estimate the burst of reactivity in reactors at the time of
the explosion (see more in 2 chapter).
If we assume that the total activity released into the 1 trillion Curie, the
infection is 2000 curies per square kilometer. km in the middle of the Earth, or 20
miles roentgen per hour, or about 200 roentgen per year. Although much of this
will wash into the ocean or decay, etc, it is necessary to compensate for the ability
of the particles to remain in the human body and to make 10 times greater harm by
internal radiation.
This estimate is valid up to order of magnitude, that is the real value lies
from 20 to 2000 p / person. However, if the lower value is guaranteed safe, then
the top is guaranteed fatal. As a result, it is impossible to make an unambiguous
conclusion about whether this will result in human extinction, or only to a local
SNF amount should increase from 260 tons to 600 tons, from 2006 to 2020,
and also is growing number of reactors. That is, the consequences of a possible
catastrophe grows with time. The number of nuclear states also icreases as well as
accuracy of missiles.
In addition, people will survive in residential shelters or by continuous use
of personal protection without consuming water, air and food outside.
Ways to prevent this catastrophe:
• Global disarmament and reduction of risk of war.
• Creation of the world reserves of food and clean water for 1 year
• Stockpiling of tablets with potassium and iodine.
• Construction of shelters and cleaning agents, dosimeters, costumes and so
• A vaccine against radiation? (It was a message about it) Development of
• Putting upper limit on total amount of radioactivity which could be
stored on the Earth. Like less than 1 trillion curie.
The main problem of the above estimates - this is how you can trust estimate
of 200 000 deaths of prisoners in a reactor. The uncertainty in estimates of
radiation risk is very high.
Estimates of the number of Chernobyl victims ranged from 50 people.
proponents of the development of nuclear energy to 64 million people in the
radical environmentalists. Estimates of the number of victims of radiation is even
more politicized than the estimates of the number of victims of Stalinist repression.
And although it seems logical to reject the extreme figures as distorted and choose
a weighted average of the estimate, it could lead to an underestimation of risk. And
what right those who say about 8 or 64 million cases of cancer?

2. The explosion of a small nuclear bomb inside a station

Suppose a terrorist is an employee of the station and he brink (or assemble

from readily available materials such as spent nuclear fuel), a small nuclear device
(a few kilotons) inside the station.
Assume the worst scenario.
The bomb is put beneath working reactor. At the time of explosion of the
reactor is in critical condition, that is, it has chain reaction. In the moment of
explosion, the compression wave is formed, which is moving through the reactor
from the bottom up, clutching uranium. This will cause parts of the reactor which
are in a compression wave (in microseconds) to turn in the supercritical condition,
and the chain reaction in them dramatically increase. (In the compression zone
occurs prompt criticality needed for the occurrence of an explosive process, in the
same reactor is used delayed criticality associated with the fact that part of the
isotope decays after a few seconds.)
The possibility of this depends on the specific reactor design, for example,
the orientation of the fuel rods in relation to the compression wave – it must be
longitudinal, so that the rods had time to shrink along the longitudinal axis, not
expanding to sides. It also depends on the braking system of neutrons in the
Yet we cannot know the consequences of a nuclear explosion at the reactor
without carrying out computer simulation. But the terrorist could use such
simulation, and chose the most vulnerable type of reactor and place for the bomb.
That is, he placed the bomb so as to cause maximum enhancement of the
I think that the location of the bomb at the reactor would lead to longitudinal
compression of the fuel rods and release the entire mass of the reactor up.
In addition, the first atomic bomb would create a neutron flux, which is
spread inside the reactor and dramatically enhance all the nuclear reactions in it.
Compression area with an explosive reaction will serve as a source of neutrons,
and additional compression to the upper parts of a reactor. Due to the enormous
physical dimensions of the reactor retention time of uranium in the critical region
would be larger than the atomic bomb, and it will lead to more complete
combustion of uranium.
Modern reactor has a thermal capacity of 4 GW, the stock of fuel for a year
and spends while only 5 percent of the fuel (or rather, does not spend, since his
work enough plutonium partly able to participate in a nuclear explosion). 20 * 35
million seconds * 10.4 ** 9dzh = 2.8 * 10 ** 18dzh = roughly 750 megatons. This
energy is the upper limit, and any real explosion will be weaker.
In addition, there may be an exploding thermonuclear reactions inside the
reactor, for example, by deuterium in water in the cooling circuits. This water is
enriched in deuterium by neutron capture during the last operation of the reactor or
during the explosion (?), Especially if the cooling is used heavy water as in some
types of reactors. 4 such CANDO reactor located in South Korea.
In such a reactor, probably has about 100 tons of heavy water in the core, or
20 tons of deuterium. 1 kg of deuterium and tritium yields an energy of 80
kilotonnes per kg,
weapon.html of deuterium is less than, say, 50. In any case, it will be 1 gigatons of
fusion energy in a reactor.
Fusion energy will be very actively divide uranium 238 (available in large
quantities in the fuel) by neutrons, which will (at least) doubling the force of the
explosion, and the manifold increase contamination.
If we are talking about the explosion, for example, in Japan at the
Kashiwazaki station (written before Fukusima), there are six reactors next to each
other and the explosion of one of them (100 megatons) would destroy the others,
and may even lead to their compression and explosion. Then the total explosion of
600 megatons, plus the reaction of the spent nuclear fuel. Such an explosion can
lead to destruction and its neighboring nuclear power plant. For example,
Fukushima-1 spaced at 10 km from the Fukushima-2. Yet the density of the reactor
is not large enough on the planet to go to "chain reaction" - an explosion of one of
the reactor leads to an explosion of another, and so on.
Such an explosion would lead to complete destruction within a radius of
about 100 km.
But the greatest damage will be from the radiation release. It manifold
surpasses Chornobyl for several reasons:
A) The reactor will be completely vaporized and the steam gets going far
beyond the blast. In Chernobyl the most part of fragments of the reactor was folded
back into the sarcophagus, or had settled in the form of dust on the surrounding
area. As a result of contamination of plutonium and cesium 137 would be ten times
B) The Chernobyl had released mostly relatively long-lived isotopes, since
the short-lived - in a few days half-life - mostly disbanded before the explosion of
the Rector - that is, they constantly are generated during operation of the reactor
and it also fell apart. In our case, all the short-lived isotopes occur at the time of
the explosion. In other words, all the iodine-131 with a decay period of 8 days,
thrown in Chernobyl, had accumulated over the last 2 weeks before the accident,
as more previously accumulated iodine have time to decay. That is, the release of
radioactive iodine will be 100-1000 times higher than in Chernobyl.
B) spent fuel pools will evaporate from the next to nuclear reactor and
radioactive reactor construction too. A large number of isotopes will be produced
by neutrons during the explosion in the reactor design. Due to this release of
radiation will be greater than a nuclear explosion of equal power. This will worsen
the situation further by 10-100 times.
As a result, the total emission of radiation will be approximately 10,000
times higher than in Chernobyl, particularly short-lived isotopes.
As a result of that large populated areas will be subjected to radiation (of the
order throughout the territory of South Korea and Japan), and evacuation would be
In Chernobyl survived inhabitants of Pripyat, the liquidators, the staff of the
plant, but due to their rapid evacuation. A man who spent a day sunbathing on the
roof of a house in Pripyat in a few days after the accident, has died. One can argue
that from a short-lived radiation would kill humans within a few kilometers from
Chernobyl, say an area of 10 square meters. km., if there were no evacuations. In
our case, it would be an area of hundreds of thousands of square kilometers.
Although the majority of the population managed to evacuate or to hide, about half
have died - from a short-lived (up to 10 days) radiation.
The worst scenario would be if at the same time in such a way would have
been blown hundreds of reactors.
This is possible if it is proved that nuclear missile attack could lead to a
nuclear reactor nuclear explosion (not just evaporating as we discussed in the 1
chapter) at the exact contact with the reactor building. This is only possible when
using cruise missiles with high accuracy.
In the world there are three areas with a high concentration of nuclear
reactors - Japan + South Korea, west Europe and the U.S. East coast. In each
region there are about a hundred reactors.
In the case of rebellion on nuclear submarines with cruise missiles, is one
such boat could have hit a hundred reactors. The probability of such a rebellion
could not be considered zero, and some types of boats stored codes of launch on
the board. The threat of strike on the reactor can be an instrument of global
blackmail. But in order to kick brought an explosion of reactors, it is necessary that
they were not plugged, it is needed the element of surprise.
In this case, a one-time release of radiation would be about 1 million of
Chernobyl, or 50 trillion curies. Which is approximately equivalent to 10 thousand
x-rays per person per year. This is guaranteed to lethal dose for most of humanity,
even though much of it will have on the short-lived isotopes, namely, iodine, and
certain groups of people can sit out of its sealed shelters. But the biosphere will be
destroyed, agriculture destroyed, and it is probable that these survivors are a group
of people will be doomed to further extinction.

3. Devil's Tube

One can also imagine another course of radioactive contamination - the

spontaneous formation of "tubes devil" - that is, the resumption of a nuclear chain
reaction in molten nuclear fuel, which was formed after nuclear accident. (This
could happen or already happened in Fikusima -7 April 2011) That's lile the latest
generation of reactors - molten salt reactors. If such a reaction starts, it will take
the form of a beginning, then fading boil. Japanese a few years ago already
"achieved" that, when one barrel was filled with too much uranium solution, and
20 hours, it was it criticality.
The main danger of such boiling is the continuous generation and release
into the atmosphere is very volatile short-lived isotopes, especially iodine-131,
with a decay period of 8 days. This will lead to a very strong background radiation
at a distance of hundred kilometers from the reactor, the envy of the wind rose. If
boiling water reactor will not be on the surface, but somewhere in the bowels of
the block, inside ruines, pour it from the top will be difficult. The water can both
enhance and diminish the reactivity.
In 8 days air can pass half the globe. Iodine is actively absorbed by the
thyroid gland.
The only way to get rid of such a "smoker" is to blow up the reactor, but it
will lead to the dissipation of other isotopes across the globe. The probability of a
smokehouse can be suppressed by putting inside the reactor building the bags of
boron compounds - they stop the reaction. But it requires work of kamikaze, and it
is not clear whether they will have time to run back to the bag to the innards of the
reactor building.

4. "China Syndrome" - penetration of the crust

That is, the formation of a large drop of very heavy liquid fuel, which is on
its way to melt all - concrete, gravel, rock.
A similar project is discussed in an article in “Nature” to create a probe that
could reach the Earth's core. This so-called Stevenson probe, which consists of 1
million tons of molten iron and burns its way down.
As shown by Milan Cirkovic in his article "Geo-engineering that went awry" penetrating Earth curst with huge drop of
molten metal (Stevenson probe) can lead to the formation of the channel to the
molten core of the Earth up to the surface on which the top begins to break out of
magma and gases. This will lead to degassing of the nucleus in the form of a giant
volcanic eruption that will completely change the composition of the atmosphere
and destroy all life on Earth.
It was shown that even a small drop of fuel - 10 kg - will dive at a speed of
2.5 meters / day. A drop of several hundred tons can dive to a few tens of meters
per day, I think. Or 10 km per year, for instance.
Under Japan are large volcanic reservoirs that feed the Fuji and other
volcanoes, the distance to them is around a few tens of kilometers down. It is
unknown whether there are magma tanks directly under the Fukusima station.
In the mantle of the movement will drop even faster as mantia is hot and
Time to reach these volcanic reservoirs may be about 10 years. It is possible
that the channel behind the fuel droplet is completely closed, but it is possible that
he will remain softer due to residual fuel on its walls. Then this channel will
extrude up, like toothpaste from a tube.
And well, if this shallow reservoir, which simply spit out the fuel and lead to
the emergence of a new volcano. Worse, if the drop reach a deep reservoir at a
depth of hundreds of kilometers, or to the very earth core, which will mentioned
above degassing of the core (which is probably long overdue, and already partly
taken place on Venus). This immersion of the drop can take dozens of years, in the
course of which nothing much will be observed.
Or maybe less. According to personal communication of a Russian scientist,
they performed studies on the establishment of a nuclear reactor, glorifying its way
inside the earth to deliver a research probe to the core, and the term of his dives are
much smaller.

5. Combustion of spent nuclear fuel in bulk storage

This problem is reduced to the point 1, but the scale will be at least 100
times less pollution will not be short-lived isotopes.

6. The collapse of technological civilization, as a result of a systemic

crisis, associated with not developing new technologies, radiophobia, economic
crisis, the evacuation of the population, rise in price of food, lack of energy
Mainly affects the factor of radiation - it's panic. When an accident source of
cesium in the Brazilian city of Guyana, 4 people were killed, but the GDP of this
region fell in the next year by 30 percent due to the exodus of businesses. Good
example of such consequence is the fall of USSR after Chernobyl.
The more complex the system, the major role in her behavior plays an
informational component. In other words, it can be destroyed due to incorrect
commands. A person can die from fear, but a tree can’t.
Remote effects of radiation is difficult to measure but radiophobia is real as
an idea that took over the masses. Just as the mines in a minefield not kill many
soldiers, but paralyze the activity of the infantry, this is their primary role.
As such a crisis, we can consider the possible consequences of the accident
at the Fukushima (written March 26, 2011 d). One of the possible worst-case
Contamination of the sea and food, as well as fear of infection will lead to
higher prices for products in the world. At the same time increase the need for
fossil fuel, to plug holes in the power systems. This is a bio-fuel and fertilizer, also
hit prices, a threat of famine. People begin to stockpile.
Intense unrest, such as Arabic, 2011, can also capture India, Saudi Arabia,
Algeria and China. There will be a further rise in oil prices, global recession, the
collapse of the financial system. There will be a movement of Luddites, destroying
technology. Spread of illness associated with consumption of radioactive food.
The world will be in the depths of the all-out civil war, many "tribes". The
world economy will collapse. Will there be local nuclear war. Other nuclear power
plants explode. Spread the virus and drug-resistant TB, exacerbated by global
warming. The planet's population will be reduced several times. Further extension
of global catastrophe is possible, the increase of degradation and extinction, or the
gradual restoration of civilization.
Another scenario involves a systemic crisis, and after a period of
degradation beginning of increased competition of superpowers, a new arms race,
creating new dangerous weapons (cobalt bomb, nanotech, viruses) and then a
global catastrophe with their application.

7. Explosive release of all nuclear energy, located at the station, as well

as thermonuclear reactions in heavy water (deuterium) in the heavy water

The worst possible scenario - nuclear explosion - assumes an instantaneous

release of all nuclear energy, which is located at the station. It was repeatedly
stated that this can never happen, because the plant is specifically designed to
avoid explosion.
However, there are two things. First, the larger the critical area, the longer it
will fly apart in the event of uncontrollable chain reaction. A reactor core is much
greater than the core of the atomic bomb - a few meters compared to 10 cm
However, the reactor continued to be critical even at the beginning of the
expansion of the core, has a large stock of household criticality. That is, with
control rods going to happen something extraordinary - for example, the very
strength of their throws beginning of the explosion of a reactor.
Second, own modern reactors are boiling water in high-strength housing,
which can provide a temporary retention of flying debris, and thereby strengthen
the force of the explosion.
A further scenario is similar to what we discussed in the paragraph on
nuclear terrorists from nuclear power.

8. The destruction of several large nuclear power plant at the break of

the dam, or other natural disasters, leading to massive destruction of nuclear
For example, the explosion of a supervolcano, super earthquake, tsunami (as
in Japan in 2011 but worse), impact of an asteroid into the ocean.

The consequences of such a catastrophe would be less than when the nuclear
attack on a nuclear power plant, but otherwise comparable. Such initial catastrophe
can only cover a large area - otherwise it will itself be a global and lead to the
destruction of humanity before it dies from radiation.

9. The coming to power in a country with nuclear power of the radicals

who want to create Doomsday nuclear weapon. Alteration of nuclear power
plants for producing large quantities of dangerous isotope and then bombing

In several years in a nuclear power plants can be created several tons of

hazardous isotopes (maximum), if rods of special elements put in neutron flux. The
spectrum of the isotopes in "natural" nuclear explosion itself is quite dangerous
because it involves a lot of isotopes has an affinity for the human body. This
iodine, cesium and strontium.
But in the reactor at any one time has not a lot of these isotopes - about 1 kg
or less, since they are not the main reaction product. When the conscious creating
of such isotopes can hypothetically earn a thousand times more.
Estimates for the creation of a Doomsday cobalt bomb talk about its weight
of about 100 000 tons, which is much larger than the mass of a typical reactor.
Amount of cobalt-60 in the explosion must reach thousands of tons of it to become
a global threat.
Thus, the occupants of one reactor will be able to do in the worst case
emissions in 1000 of Chernobyl, or 50 billion curies, but less than 1 trillion
threshold at which to begin the risk of extinction. We can assume that they can
catch a few nuclear stations, but in this case in their hands will be a whole
industrialized country, and they may already be trying to build a Doomsday
Machine from scratch.
They can achieve even more if they use nuclear power to produce materials
for nuclear bomb, and then reequipping this plant so that it accurately all detonated
at undermining this charge and that the neutrons generated by this explosion
irradiated a large number of the most dangerous in the long run substances, such as
, with the release of cobalt-60.
This may increase the risk 10 times up to 500 billion curie and is close to
human extinction threshold of 1 trillion.

10. Power outages across the earth as a result of a certain global

cataclysm, which leads to a loss of cooling at all nuclear power plants. For
example, superflash the Sun can lead to global disruptions to electricity. Or a
world war, or the effects of medium-sized asteroid (1 km).

This is the worst case lead to the fact that each of the 400 reactors events
unfold, as the Fukushima-1. As a result of significant contamination occurs
industrial areas, which coupled with the shutdown of electricity would make
problematic a rapid recovery of an industrial civilization. That is, there are
probability of transition to the spiral of a systemic crisis that could lead to the
extinction of mankind.
Note that the very nature of self-sustaining system crisis is not very
dependent on the cause, which started it, and it will develop on its own laws, and
the likelihood will it to extinction or not depends on its intrinsic properties, which
are still difficult to assess.

11. Underestimation of long-term effects of radiation on man and

"Small doses of radiation are dangerous for its long-term consequences.
Russian scientists have found that the experimental mice that received low doses of
radiation, finished his race for the sixth generation: from generation to generation
of the mutated chromosome set, which eventually led to complete infertility.

Marine Pollution nucleotides is considered to be the lesser evil, as in sea

water contains 4.6 billion tons of uranium, and therefore large amounts of decay
products of its 235 isotope. (Eg, 200 kg of polonium in every moment).

12) Distribution of nuclear power plants around the world leads to a

sharp increase in the spread of nuclear weapons, primarily due to the fact that
reactor-grade plutonium learn to use for military purposes, as well as by the
general spread of nuclear technology, which then leads to an increase in other
nuclear risks
Risk rise as square of a number of rectors in the world, because 1) the more
rectors we have, the more chance for proliferation 2) the more reactors we have,
the more radiation they will release in case in mass bombing.


Surely this list is not complete, as to come up with these scenarios was
simple, and some may be much harder.
Only the following scenarios could lead to a complete human extinction:
• Strike by nuclear missiles on the majority of reactors on Earth, which leads
to a nuclear explosion of each reactor. The probability of it depends both on the
strike itself (it can safely be estimated as less than 1 percent for 21) and on the
likelihood that a nuclear strike on the reactor will cause it to explode (also less than
1 percent), totaling 0.01 percent maximum. (It probably has not seen as a measure
of frequency of an event, but as a measure of the rate that we should do at this
event, see "The structure of global catastrophe").
• Penetration of corium to the Earth's core with subsequent degassing. This
scenario is also unlikely - it can be estimated as equal to the probability of the
previous one.
• System crisis of colossal catastrophe in nuclear power plants. This crisis is
starting a chain of irreversible degradation.
Thus, the plant could lead to humanity died with a probability of 0.03% in
the 21 century, which is significantly greater than the risk of catastrophe at the
collider, but less risk of AI, nanotech and biological weapons.
Currently, nuclear power plants provide about 6 percent of world energy
production, on a par with the burning of biomass (ie wood and dung - 4%). That is,
nuclear power can not save humanity from the energy crisis in the current number.
If the middle of the 21 st century it will be the main producer of energy, which in
principle can be achieved using reactors and thorium breeders, their number should
increase by about 50 times (up to 20 000 reactors). Number of long-lived wastes
will increase even more, because life will increase. In this case, global catastrophe
with all the nuclear power plant will release 50 times more radiation, and the
likelihood that it will lead to the extinction of humanity increase.
Availability of nuclear weapons by the middle of the 21 st century will also
rise, as due to the spread of nuclear power plants themselves, and because of
cheaper production technologies of anything (nanotech). The accuracy of missiles
also will grow. As a result of nuclear attack on the plant becomes more likely.


extinction in the XXI century
P.D. Smith. Cobalt bomb. (from the book “Doomsday men”)