The Brookhaven Report (WASH-740)

WASH-740, Theoretical Possibilities and Consequences of Major Accidents in Large Nuclear Power Plants (also known as The Brookhaven Report) was published in 1957 by the US Atomic Energy Commission (US AEC). The statistics-based report estimated the possible effects of a maximum credible reactor accident. It was estimated that such an accident could cause up to 3,400 deaths, 43,000 injuries and property damage of 7 billion US dollars. An updated 1965 issue of the report estimated dramatically higher numbers of 45,000 deaths, 100,000 injuries, and 17 billion US dollars in property damage. The report triggered considerable public concern about the safety of nuclear energy and protests about its use. However, the report lacked a proper calculation of the probability of such an accident.

After a set of subsequent studies, a 2009 report State-of-the-Art Reactor Consequence Analyses (SOARCA) further defined the probability of certain scenarios based on complex computer models and modern security standards.

Further Readings: 
  • Cooke, Stephanie. In Mortal Hands: A Cautionary History of the Nuclear Age. London: Bloomsbury, 2009.