Erin H. answered 08/09/22
BA in Biochemistry, certified teacher with 10+ years experience
An accident like this can greatly reduce peoples' confidence in power plants, especially because the media limits the coverage of the VAST safety networks in place at nuclear plants. Against the Odds has a really great podcast about this: https://podcasts.apple.com/us/podcast/meltdown-at-fukushima-triple-disaster/id1553335461?i=1000557164492 it covers how hard the people at the nuclear plant worked to try and prevent the nuclear reactor from overheating. It also shows how the tsunami caused a perfect storm that caused all the safety checks to stop working.
An accident certainly could happen in the US, although it would not occur in the same way. The best safety measures would be to ensure multiple ways in which power can be restored despite a variety of potential conditions (lack of fuel, flood, snow storm, etc.)
In general, nuclear reactors are extremely efficient and we have the science to make them less risky. Although, when things go bad, they go really, really bad. Nuclear damage to the body is irreversible. It's a really tough question that's hard to answer without knowing the long term effects of previous failures, like Fukushima.