Cost of Nuclear Disaster


To the Editor:
In New Calculus on Smoking, It’s Health Gained vs. Pleasure Lost” (front page, Aug. 7), about taking happiness into account in cost-benefit analyses by the Food and Drug Administration, points out the downside to such an approach, but accounting for the loss of happiness and other psychological factors in risk assessments makes sense in some cases.
The 2011 Fukushima nuclear accident in Japan led to the evacuation of some 150,000 people, and most of them may never return to their homes. This disruption of so many lives is undoubtedly having profound psychosocial effects.
Yet in the United States, when evaluating new nuclear reactor safety requirements, the Nuclear Regulatory Commission considers only the direct monetary costs of such disasters — like the value of condemned land and the cost of decontamination — and ignores the social costs of a large population of permanently displaced people.
The nuclear commission should enhance public safety by broadening its definition of the cost of such human tragedies.
EDWIN LYMAN
Senior Scientist
Union of Concerned Scientists
Washington, Aug. 7, 2014
 http://www.nytimes.com/2014/08/14/opinion/cost-of-nuclear-disaster.html?_r=1
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