Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Having second thoughts about nuclear power

As the headline at Drudge screams "Surgeon General: get iodide" and headlines from around the world give more grim news of the nuclear disaster in Japan,and,even the U.S Navy prepares to move warships into safer waters, I have to admit I am having serious doubts about the use of nuclear power in this country going forward.

Since I have been old enough to have an informed opinion I have been a supporter of nuclear energy as a relatively safe,clean form of energy but the atomic disaster at Japan's Fukushima power station has changed all that!

Today-even as I am writing this-we have the unprecedented spectacle of 3 nuclear reactors out of control,containments damaged,and at least on reactor vessel breached. As if this is not bad enough there has been a strange emission of white smoke coming from one of the reactors. Is the core itself on fire? No one but the Japanese government and the people at the scene no for sure.

To top all that off radiation levels near the site of Fukushima power complex are dangerously high ,and,our government has said that a 50 mile radius around the plant should be evacuated. This is a truly frightening disaster unfolding before our very eyes.

Being a citizen of Central Missouri i live just miles from a large nuclear power plant. I can't imagine what it would be like if this was happening at that power plant. The idea that my entire family could be exposed to something like this is a nightmare I can't begin to wrap my mind around.

Therefore I have come to the conclusion that nuclear energy may well be just too darn dangerous to consider as a viable energy source going forward.In fairness I have to admit that our reactors-or the majority any way-are constructed much much better than the Fukushima complex. Where the Japanese outer containment appears to be sheet metal ours are made of concrete with walls that measure at least four feet thick .
In fact our outside containment buildings are built to withstand a direct hit from an airplane.
"the design and thickness of the containment and the missile shield are governed by federal regulations (10 CFR 50.55a), and must be strong enough to withstand the impact of a fully loaded passenger airliner without rupture.[2]"

That being said what of the unforeseen? Our plants should be able to withstand the strongest earthquake that could come in their area,but, what if a quake occurs higher than what the building is designed for? What happens if a tsunami hits, or any other of a whole host of things that no one saw coming?

Nuclear power is a great thing when all goes well,but can quickly turn into a real bitch when all does not,and, in the final analysis that risk,the risk of radiation release and out of control fission are just too great,no matter how remote the possibilities.

As of this writing no one -and I mean no one- knows how this will end. This horrible horrible event could well render much of Japan uninhabitable. Given the extraordinary risks that even the most remote event presents I have therefor begun to have sever misgivings and very very strong second thoughts about nuclear energy. I fear that this is one genie that needs to be put back in the bottle,encased in concrete, and buried as far and as deep as one can do!