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As clearly defined in Life After People Nuclear Power plants would melt down days to weeks after people disappeared. Now, I seriously doubt that anybody would stick around to even try to operate the reactors when the crap hit the fan......so since America alone has over 100 reactors so in theory the good old USA should be a desolate, radioactive death-zone ass well as filled with the undead. Also why didn't the huge chemical spills that would have occurred after and during the panic effect the survivors at all?

My question is this: Why didn't the world become totally inhospitable after the mass outbreaks.

marked as duplicate by Thaddeus Howze, Valorum, DVK-on-Ahch-To, FuzzyBoots, Null Jan 5 '15 at 20:00

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  • Let me edit the question....I guess it wasn't well-worded. – JDSweetBeat Jan 5 '15 at 17:29
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    Chernobyl only had a 40-50 mile radius thats a "deadzone". i believe the show is set in Atlanta, which is over 100 miles from the closest reactor. and a quote from life after people, there would only be a 1 mile radius dead zone to a nuclear power plant that went into "safemode" melt down aka what the majority of the nuclear plants in the US will do. – Himarm Jan 5 '15 at 17:37
  • But to my understanding radiation would eventually travel away from the reactor.... Possibly hitting the city in some places and surely hitting some of the areas they likely traveled in. It would explain why the group has limited range though. – JDSweetBeat Jan 5 '15 at 17:40
  • according to the life after people wiki, after its initial spread, thats it, it doesnt just seep forever, chernobyls, dead zone is shrinking,(slowly) and stuff can still live their, plants ect. and their are humans living in the dead zones as well. chernobyls is also bigger then average because it had a man made meltdown that bypassed safety systems and resulted in thousands of tons of cement and water being dumped ontop of reactors making a huge mess. its suspected that Chernobyl cores are still burning under all that cement. – Himarm Jan 5 '15 at 17:42
  • @Himarm I might just not be understanding what everyone has told me about radiation. There is a lot of bias on the web about this sort of thing. – JDSweetBeat Jan 5 '15 at 17:42

Despite what people may have heard, nuclear reactors are inherently safe. In the event of a need to secure them an operator needs to simply shut it down by lowering the control rods. Normally this is controlled over a number of hours but it can be very rapid if needed (less than 1 second), and this is referred to as a scram.

A scram is a sudden reactor shutdown. When a reactor is scrammed, automatically due to seismic activity, or due to some malfunction, or manually for whatever reason, the fission reaction generating the main heat stops. However, considerable heat continues to be generated by the radioactive decay of the fission products in the fuel. Initially, for a few minutes, this is great - about 7% of the pre-scram level. But it drops to about 1% of the normal heat output after two hours, to 0.5% after one day, and 0.2% after a week. Even then it must still be cooled, but simply being immersed in a lot of water does most of the job after some time. When the water temperature is below 100°C at atmospheric pressure the reactor is said to be in "cold shutdown". They can operate at these conditions nearly indefinitely.

As for chemical spills, they are almost always caused by human error, and as the humans are no longer operating them, it is less likely for this event to occur.


You greatly overestimate the destructive power of nuclear power plants. Even if they all went critical, only a small percentage of the country would be radioactive, and only a small fraction of that would be immediately or short term fatal. That might pose a problem in heavily populated areas, but you know, zombie apocalypse has already removed that obstacle. Small roaming groups of people are better equipped to get out of those areas. Zombies would still be the deadlier threat. You can live and reproduce in medium to high radiation zones with minor mutations/cancer rates as Cher nobly had shown in animal populations. Healthy, no, livable, yes.

  • The small radiation clouds would still at the very least cause any life forms to become sick enough to probably be overtaken....or does radiation not make you sick? – JDSweetBeat Jan 5 '15 at 19:43
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    Radiation in very high levels is identical to overexposure from the sun. Red skin, nausea, vomiting, dehydration. But the amount of exposure you would need to get that sick is basically at ground zero (inside the primary shield, or the secondary if the primary was breached due to damage). In order to recieve enough radiation to die, you would need to be inside the primary shield while the reactor is online. As a nuclear worker I recieved a smaller total radiation dose from 300 hours of shift work, then I did driving to and from work for 1 single day in the summer. – Firebat Jan 5 '15 at 19:57
  • @Dustin radiation clouds from wind patterns dissipate fairly quickly as it spreads out (tens of miles). Outside of the immediate areas of the reactors, it can make you sick, but so can sun poisoning, raw meat, fatigue from over running, stress, etc. It's less a hazard then a sprained ankle would be, if zombies are chasing you. – user16696 Jan 5 '15 at 20:08
  • Dustin the radiation cloud from Chernobyl was because of the dumping of tons of cement ontop of the reactors as they were melting down, that is what caused the radiation cloud that contaminated other farther areas away from Chernobyl itself. the issue with spread radiation in japan is due to the radiation hitting water, which allows radiated water to diffuse out and effect a greater area. – Himarm Jan 5 '15 at 20:35

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