16 March 2011

Lesson of the Crisis: No more nukes • Phase out Nuclear Power

It is increasingly clear that the situation at Fukushima Daiichi is really, really bad. The earthquake and tsunami, both of which were especially severe but hardly outside the realm of foreseeability, caused damage that the design  of these (unfortunately American-designed) power plants simply cannot cope with. The first and second back up systems have failed, and there are no good options. 

Experts say the crisis will not abate for weeks, and that difficult and extremely dangerous operations will be necessary during that time to avoid total catastrophe.

Just what would that mean? I.e., a total melting event in all four reactors (plus 2 more possible). From what I can gather, it would be multiples of Chernobyl; a swath of one of the most populous countries in the world rendered uninhabitable for generations. This hasn't happened yet, but from what I can gather there is no realistic assurance at this point that it can be prevented.

Already, it seems to me the world must conclude that nuclear power is just too dangerous, and too expensive, to even consider. We must first help the Japanese in any way we can to resolve this crisis with the best possible outcome. Then we must, ourselves, resolve to abandon all plans to build nuclear power plants and put into effect a program to rapidly decommission and replace all existing nuclear power plants with renewable energy generating plants.

As one formerly pro-nuclear expert engineer recently said on Ian Masters's Background Briefing: if this had been a solar plant, or a wind plant, or even a coal plant or a natural gas plant, you wouldn't be talking to me. They would have shut them down, and that would've been that. But nuclear power plants can't just be shut down; when an event outside their design plan occurs, they are deadly and very, very difficult to control. That has to be taken into account in any assessment of the costs of nuclear power, and the conclusion is pretty clear: it's just not worth it. 

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