disaster scenario question

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    I just read lucifer’s hammer ( a book about chunks of a comet hitting the earth and the days after) and was intrigued about the nuclear reactor portion of it. In the book a functioning nuclear reactor plays a big part of the rebuilding of society. I was wondering in the event of a disaster several things:
    1) what would happen to current nuclear reactors if they were to abandoned or destroyed ( would they melt down?, would the surrounding area be contaminated?)
    2) would it be beneficial to be live near an area with a functioning nuclear reactor to possibly benefit from an excellent power supply?
    I know these are extreme cases, but i was just curious.

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