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While nuclear power plants are designed to be safe in their operation and safe in the event of any malfunction or accident, no industrial activity can be represented as entirely risk-free.Incidents and accidents may happen, and as in other industries, what is learned will lead to a progressive improvement in safety.Its role has been strengthened since 1996 (see later section).Every country which operates nuclear power plants has a nuclear safety inspectorate and all of these work closely with the IAEA.Most of the serious radiological injuries and deaths that occur each year (2-4 deaths and many more exposures above regulatory limits) are the result of large uncontrolled radiation sources, such as abandoned medical or industrial equipment.(There have also been a number of accidents in experimental reactors and in one military plutonium-producing pile – at Windscale, UK, in 1957, but none of these resulted in loss of life outside the actual plant, or long-term environmental contamination.) See also Table 2 in Appendix.
It prescribes safety procedures and the reporting of even minor incidents.No industry is immune from accidents, but all industries learn from them.In civil aviation, there are accidents every year and each is meticulously analysed.The use of nuclear energy for electricity generation can be considered extremely safe.Every year several thousand people die in coal mines to provide this widely used fuel for electricity.
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In avoiding such accidents the industry has been very successful.