It seems to make the famously industry-friendly Nuclear Regulatory Commission feel better, but I don't think "immediate" deaths is the only 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.
Meanwhile, in related news:
Radioactive cesium was found in milk powder in Japan made by a Meiji Holdings Co. unit, raising concern that nuclear radiation is contaminating baby food.
Meiji the past week found traces of cesium-137 and cesium- 134 in batches of “Meiji Step” made in March, the Tokyo-based company said yesterday. The probe was triggered by a customer complaint last month. Levels in the 850-gram (30-ounce) cans are within safe limits and don’t pose a health risk, Meiji said.
The finding highlights the radiation threat to food in Japan nine months after the Fukushima nuclear plant was wrecked by an earthquake and tsunami. Prolonged exposure to radiation in the air, ground and food can damage DNA, causing leukemia and other cancers. While infants are especially susceptible, the contamination may not be a significant threat if limited to small quantities in isolated batches, said Slim Dinsdale, a food safety consultant based in Norwich, England.
[...] “The dose is pretty small,” said Richard Wakeford, a visiting professor in epidemiology at the University of Manchester’s Dalton Nuclear Institute. It wouldn’t be necessary to ban the products from a radiological protection point of view, he said. “But you can understand the kind of pressure that the manufacturer would be under in these circumstances.”