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January 9, 1987

The Safety of Nuclear Power Plants in the United States

Author Affiliations

Brookhaven National Laboratory Upton, NY

Brookhaven National Laboratory Upton, NY

JAMA. 1987;257(2):190-191. doi:10.1001/jama.1987.03390020056023

To the Editor.—  The purpose of this letter is to clarify a statement made by H. Jack Geiger, MD, in the article entitled "The Accident at Chernobyl and the Medical Response."1 Dr Geiger states that the design features found at Chernobyl are similar to those in many US reactors. In particular, he mentions some characteristics of the design of the Chernobyl containment structure. He does not, however, compare the design features of the Chernobyl and US containment structures correctly.The similarities between the design features of the containment structure at Chernobyl and those of the US plants are more apparent than real. Important parts of the Chernobyl primary coolant system were outside the containment; these became the openings through which release of the fission products first took place. There is no corresponding feature for American reactors. Second, analysis indicates a much more limited protective capability for the containment that