In the wake of the Japanese Nuclear disaster in Fukushima, it is clear that we have a serious problem with nuclear power in the U.S. and worldwide. What were the real underlying causes of the Japanese nuclear disaster? Should nuclear power be abandoned because of the potential dangers? Should all nuclear power plants be shutdown, cemented over and put to rest, especially those plants located near or on earthquake fault lines near populated areas, and food and water sources?
Yes, it is time to face the reality that nuclear power is too dangerous. Does the U.S. want to risk its own disaster if earthquakes occur in any area throughout the United States?
The danger of old U.S. nuclear plants
There are many aging plants in the U.S. and the world similar to the GE and Westinghouse plants bought by Japan decades ago which make up the Fukushima nuclear facility. In the wake of natural or manmade disasters it is clear that nuclear energy can quickly become a nuclear nightmare. Certain types of radiation from the uranium, cesium and plutonium released are deadly and can make areas totally uninhabitable for thousands of years.
Japan – Plutonium detected in Fukushima soil adds to environmental woes
The Dangers and Idiocy of Nuclear Spent Fuel Rods in Cooling ponds near or inside Nuclear Reactor Containment Buildings
As nuclear experts are now saying, the potential radiation that could be released from the spent fuel rods or the fuel rods in the reactor core of the Fukushima plant and other nuclear plants are catastrophic. The amount of nuclear radiation from Fukushima type plants if released would be thousands of times greater than the radiation released over Nagasaki. This radiation would seep into the food chain and could become a silent killer threatening people throughout the globe. The fact that Japan has over 50 nuclear power plants, many aging, is a dire warning to other countries with nuclear power plants near populated areas or near sources of food and water.
Time to Stop Development of Nuclear Energy and Find New Clean Sources of Energy
The Japanese earthquake, tsunami and nuclear disasters are warnings to all nations that nuclear energy even for peaceful purposes is extremely dangerous. No matter how many risk assessment models are done by nuclear engineers, they cannot always plan for every possible outcome. Also, the utility or energy companies paying for the development and construction of nuclear energy plants want to spend as little as possible so they can make more profit. Are nuclear engineers pressured to develop nuclear energy power plant related risk assessment models that barely cover minimum safety concerns so utility companies don’t have to spend additional money for safety?
The tragedy of Japan is that there are organizations and scientists and common citizens who have warned of the potential dangers of nuclear energy. Now is the time to say enough is enough, no more nuclear plants because the dangers are too great and science cannot prevent natural disasters or manmade disasters based on lack of effective safety planning for unexpected events.
There are other forms of energy that we could easily use:
- fuel-cell technology,
However, using these technologies might not give a monolithic highly centralized utility company lots of money because the energy could be decentralized. Are we not seeing more solar plants because highly centralized solar energy plants are too expensive? Or, are oil companies doing everything they can to reap every last ounce of profit and trying to prevent real efforts of changing over to non-petroleum, gas or coal-based energy?
Boxer Urges Nuclear Regulatory Commission Review of US Nuclear Power Plants
How does the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) handle requests for increases in safety? Not really well according to the recent appearance of the NRC head who wanted to side-step the entire issue of safety concerns of U.S. Nuclear Plants.
The issue is that as the Union of Concerned Scientists pointed out in its recent report, over the years reactors have developed leaks that have gone undetected. Also, it is time to revisit how safe nuclear reactors really are in the case of earthquakes, tsunamis or other natural disasters.
It is outrageous that the U.S. requirement for battery back-up is only a mere 8-hours! We saw that Japan’s 12 hour battery backup was not nearly enough for what was needed when the electricity in the plant failed and the generators failed.
What failsafe systems are required of U.S. Nuclear plants – especially those aging plants over 40 years old?
Another danger is that the U.S. cannot afford to underestimate the type of earthquake that might occur near a nuclear power plant. Japan thought the largest earthquake they would experience would be a 7.9. However, they got whacked with a 9.0 level quake or possibly a 9.1 level quake according to some seismologists!
Nuclear Peril – Case Study: San Onofre