I don’t think “immediate” deaths is the criteria we need to use here:
The triple meltdown at the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant in March startled many people in the American nuclear industry, the chairman of the Nuclear Regulatory Commission said on Tuesday, although the success in ultimately gaining control of the reactors did not.
“I think there are many people who are associated with this industry who believed we had designed away, or operated in a way, that eliminated the possibility of ever having a significant, really severe accident,’’ said the chairman, Gregory B. Jaczko, who held a year-end roundtable session with reporters.
That it was possible for the three reactors to melt down without causing any immediate deaths was far less surprising, he said. “Plants ultimately have a number of safety features and designs to reduce the likelihood” of releasing enough radiation to cause immediate illness, he said.