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View Poll Results: Are nuclear energy plants just too dangerous, worldwide?
They are too dangerous, do not build any more and shut down the ones currently in operation. 4 18.18%
They are dangerous, do not build more but it is OK to keep using the ones already built. 3 13.64%
The risks are worth it, keep expanding nuclear energy. 12 54.55%
Other opinion (add your details in a posting on this thread) 3 13.64%
Voters: 22. You may not vote on this poll

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  #1  
Old March 15th, 2011, 07:22 PM
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Default Nuclear energy - safe?

http://www.staradvertiser.com/news/b...118037754.html

Quote:
President Barack Obama is defending nuclear power as an important source of energy in the U.S., even as new questions are raised about its safety following radiation leaks from an earthquake and tsunami-damaged nuclear plant in Japan.
Quote:
"I've already instructed our nuclear regulatory agency to make sure that we take lessons learned from what's happened in Japan and that we are constantly upgrading how we approach our nuclear safety in this country," the president said on KOAT.
Quote:
However, Obama said that all energy sources have downsides and none are foolproof. He said the U.S. learned that last summer during the massive oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico.
Are the massive risks associated with a nuclear accident just too high to justify building new nuclear power plants?

Can a horrendous oil spill that caused enormous economic and environmental damage be equated to a nuclear accident that could possibly kill 100,000s of people?

Is nuclear energy just too dangerous?
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  #2  
Old March 15th, 2011, 07:52 PM
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Default Re: Nuclear energy - safe?

It's all good, until suddenly it ain't.
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  #3  
Old March 15th, 2011, 09:16 PM
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Default Re: Nuclear energy - safe?

The reason why there's a huge bandwagon against nuclear power is because very few people know how it works, and how it safeguards itself. In over 60 years of operation, there are TWO human errors (TMI and Chernobyl) and ONE natural disaster (Japan). Never mind the hundreds of nuclear powered ships and subs, hundreds of civilian power plants across the globe, and the billions of safe full-power-hours of operation... because no one seems to care about that.

But in the recent years, we've had dozens of other accidents: Coal mine collapses, oil rig explosions, oil spills, natural gas line explosions... all of which are accepted as normal processes in their industry.

Russia aside (because their government and practices have been naturally shady for decades), the total death toll from radiation at TMI and at this point Japan = 0. If we want to bring up radiation health statistics, then we might as well bring up black lung, meso, oil vapor, and other health statistics comparable to their industries as well.

Nuclear power is not the same as nuclear warheads. They're not even the same elements or isotopes.

But if we want alternative energy, then I propose dotting the entire Hawaii landscape with wind turbines and solar panels. Yeah, that'll make this place look pretty.
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Old March 15th, 2011, 11:15 PM
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Default Re: Nuclear energy - safe?

I won't talk about the safety issues, because I don't know much about them, but here are some things to think about regarding the economic damage potential:

Quote:
"I'm worried in the long term about Japan's economy," said Yoshiko Konno, in her 60s, as she charged her cellphone at a community center in Sendai. "Just think of one example — oysters! Are Americans and Europeans going to want to import Japanese oysters if they think there is a danger of radioactive contamination?"
With petroleum not being a sustainable source of highly concentrated power, it's difficult to say what can take its place. Solar and wind don't seem to come even close to nuclear (unless some miracle technological break-through happens...before we "run out" of petroleum to fuel the research).

I'm thinking we're heading towards an "extreme lifestyle change". Maybe mythical stories of race cars and airplanes will be told to children in the distant future.
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  #5  
Old March 15th, 2011, 11:15 PM
Leo Lakio Leo Lakio is offline
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Default Re: Nuclear energy - safe?

You are forgetting the partial meltdown at Fermi 1 in 1966, the Windscale fire in 1957, the "incidents" at Chalk River, and dozens of other accidents that have led to radiation leaks, fuel-rod damage, long-term shutdowns, and fatalities. Yes, fatalities: Charleston, RI, 1964; Buenos Aires, 1983; Tokai-mura, 1999. There have been many more incidents than just Three Mile Island and Chernobyl, and that's just the civilian-operated reactors.
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  #6  
Old March 15th, 2011, 11:58 PM
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Default Re: Nuclear energy - safe?

Clearly a very poor choice of location for the plant in a Tsunami Warning Zone. Not to mention underdesign for an earthquake zone. Anyways history has shown the unless you work at the plant or get up close to it, you aren't going to get radiation sickness or die.

We need more clean, safe nuclear energy, not more imported oil. People just need to remember to not build certain things in poor locations. I would agree that the 9th ward in New Orleans shouldn't have a nuclear power plant or one sitting on or near a fault line.
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  #7  
Old March 16th, 2011, 12:13 AM
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Default Re: Nuclear energy - safe?

My comments would be learn from these mistakes and make nuclear reactors as safe as it can be.
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  #8  
Old March 16th, 2011, 01:50 AM
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Default Re: Nuclear energy - safe?

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Originally Posted by Leo Lakio View Post
You are forgetting the partial meltdown at Fermi 1 in 1966, the Windscale fire in 1957, the "incidents" at Chalk River, and dozens of other accidents that have led to radiation leaks, fuel-rod damage, long-term shutdowns, and fatalities. Yes, fatalities: Charleston, RI, 1964; Buenos Aires, 1983; Tokai-mura, 1999. There have been many more incidents than just Three Mile Island and Chernobyl, and that's just the civilian-operated reactors.
A numbers game will still prove nuclear power is safer than other sources of energy. Yes, there are many lower-level incidents that have occurred, and no, I'm not forgetting about them. If you really want, the SL-1 Army tank reactor is deemed a failure, and that killed 3 (the ONLY three in the United States ever killed from a reactor failure, among the 7 total from criticality accidents (i.e. experiments or operator errors)). Considering the first online reactor was in 1954, the first few mentioned events occurred when nuclear power was still in a fledgling stage, and little was known about it. We have come a long way since then, and the biggest fault will always be operator error. If an operator does absolutely nothing, the plant will stabilize. If an operator overrides a safety function, the plant will disagree and could be damaged.

-Regarding your Charlestown, RI Wood River Junction criticality incident, this was not a nuclear power plant, but a uranium salvaging plant.
-Regarding Buenos Aires: operator procedural non-compliance. Do you change the battery when your car is running? Well you don't change a fuel rod while being moderated.
-Regarding Tokai: operator procedural non-compliance, once again at a reprocessing facility, not a power plant. Do you put nitroglycerin in your gas tank? Do not put the wrong mixture of solution into a tank.

I'd rather work a nuclear plant than dig a coal mine, work an oil rig, repair a wind turbine, cap a natural gas line, or drill for land-based oil anyday. If you want to talk about safety, then why are the latter jobs featured on "dangerous jobs" television episodes? No one would watch an hour-long segment of some nerdy operator sitting behind a panel for 12 hours.

But, just because the other sources of energy have costly casualties as well doesn't mean I'm on a mis-informed bandwagon to stop any of their production either.
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  #9  
Old March 16th, 2011, 09:10 AM
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Default Re: Nuclear energy - safe?

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Originally Posted by AlohaKine View Post
We need more clean, safe nuclear energy, not more imported oil.
Nuclear energy. Clean????

You do realize that nuclear waste, in the form of spent fuel rods, remain radioactive for thousands of years, right? You also realize that the United States currently has no permanent storage site for nuclear waste? Temporary measures like storage pools and dry casks are presently being employed. But if no one can come up with a plan for permanent waste disposal that is safe and economically feasible, then the whole process will eventually become unsustainable.
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  #10  
Old March 16th, 2011, 09:19 AM
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Default Re: Nuclear energy - safe?

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Originally Posted by AlohaKine View Post
People just need to remember to not build certain things in poor locations. I would agree that the 9th ward in New Orleans shouldn't have a nuclear power plant or one sitting on or near a fault line.
I was living in San Luis Obispo, CA back in the '70's when the Diablo Canyon Nuclear Power Plant was approved. It sits about one mile from an active earthquake fault. Many "environmentalists" were upset by the siting of the plant because of safety issues. I was working for the City of San Luis Obispo at the time as an urban planner and joined the protests. Although the City was not involved in the permitting process and had no legislative interest, PG&E went to the City and demanded I be fired from my position. The City reprimanded me, but I was not fired. PG&E poo-poo'd the concerns, saying they knew how to build a nucular (sic) plant to meet all safety standards. And it was built and is still operating today. Here is a quote from Wikipedia:

Diablo Canyon is designed to withstand a 7.5 magnitude earthquake from four faults, including the nearby San Andreas and Hosgri faults.[1] Equipped with advanced seismic monitoring and safety systems, the plant is designed to shut down promptly in the event of significant ground motion.

Fortunately there has never been any significant seismic activity in the area in the intervening years to test the presumptions quoted above. But it is clear (by PG&E's own assertions) that this plant would not survive an earthquake of the magnitude in Japan. PG&E is a public utility that has to answer to stockholders that demand a return on their investment. This begs the question, what motivates PG&E, public safety or responsibility to their stockholders?

Clearly, safety issues, with respect to all kinds of risk, have not been a primary consideration when building nuclear power plants around the world. Until safety can be reasonably assured by technology or location, then nucular (sic) energy is higly suspect as a viable source of sustainable power.

Carbon 14 like petroleum is a limited natural resource. There is controversary with respect to how much is left in the earth. In fact, nucular (sic) energy is an old and outdated technology. It is time to devote significant research (with tax payer money) to developing alternative sources of energy. Until then, nucular (sic) energy is highly suspect as a viable source of sustainable power for the future.
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Last edited by matapule; March 16th, 2011 at 09:27 AM.
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  #11  
Old March 16th, 2011, 09:27 AM
Kalalau Kalalau is offline
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Default Re: Nuclear energy - safe?

One problem is inefficiency. Supposedly 75% of US energy is wasted, only 10 % of Japan's is. Some of that is due to transferring electricity over long distances in this big country. To me, with powerful, huge ocean currents going past each coast, it should be possible to engineer some kind of turbines to pick up the energy and turn generators. Yes it would take some technological innovation but if the difficulties with a moon mission could be dealt with, I have little doubt that with enough determination, study, skill, and money, extracting motion from ocean currents to run electric generators could be accomplished. And lets not forget the 60 Minutes program on Brazil's use of alcohol to power its auto fleet, they ferment sugar cane stalks, that would be a monumentally profitable industry for southern states and probably Hawai'i, too. Beyond that, there is sea floor methane, there is coal and again if the country could do a moon mission it sure should be able to find a way to extract energy from coal without polluting, or without polluting very much. Nuclear would be totally wonderful if the waste could be dealt with safely and permanently, and if every single possible mishap could be ruled out. As the incidents at Fukushima are proving, it is a technology that must be literally 100% perfect. Maybe that can be done. It obviously has not been so far, though.
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Old March 16th, 2011, 12:18 PM
Leo Lakio Leo Lakio is offline
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Default Re: Nuclear energy - safe?

Quote:
Originally Posted by bjd392 View Post
-Regarding your Charlestown, RI Wood River Junction criticality incident, this was not a nuclear power plant, but a uranium salvaging plant.
-Regarding Buenos Aires: operator procedural non-compliance. Do you change the battery when your car is running? Well you don't change a fuel rod while being moderated.
-Regarding Tokai: operator procedural non-compliance, once again at a reprocessing facility, not a power plant. Do you put nitroglycerin in your gas tank? Do not put the wrong mixture of solution into a tank.
Nice to see you can Google.

All part of the nuclear power industry.

I am one who wishes that nuclear power were the "answer" - because of the potential for it to be a cleaner and safer form than most of our current methods. Yes, it would be great to walk away from the current problems of coal/petroleum/natural gas power generation, but with that "cleaner" payoff comes a much higher risk than any of the other forms - a deadlier risk that spreads a wider net. "Human error" will always be a factor in any field, and the damage potential of mistakes in the nuclear industry is dramatic.

In other words - we aren't capable of handling it safely (and that includes the waste by-product FM spoke of earlier). It's the dilemma around which the plot-line of "Jurassic Park" revolved: just because science/industry can do something doesn't mean we should.

(And as for my education in this field, during a brief journalistic stint in the late 1970's, my beat included a nuclear power plant in the Midwest, so I did the required research, went to industry seminars, and got the security clearance to enter the grounds of the plant.)
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Old March 16th, 2011, 06:49 PM
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Default Re: Nuclear energy - safe?

And there is always the question of whether we, the populace, are demanding too much energy and how much reluctance we have to energy conservation.
As well as developing safer ways of producing energy, we can do more conserving.
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Old March 16th, 2011, 08:14 PM
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Default Re: Nuclear energy - safe?

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I was living in San Luis Obispo, CA back in the '70's when the Diablo Canyon Nuclear Power Plant was approved. It sits about one mile from an active earthquake fault. Many "environmentalists" were upset by the siting of the plant because of safety issues..
This is funny, but no sooner was this post made than this damaging article appeared on the Internet about Diablo Canyon. This nucular (sic) facility was/is an accident waiting to happen from the very beginning. And PG&E was collecting information and data on those who dared to oppose them in an attempt to blacklist protesters and make them lose employment. The local CEO of PG&E was a well known member of the John Birch Society who interpreted any opposition to his personal agenda as a Communist plot.
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Old March 16th, 2011, 11:53 PM
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Default Re: Nuclear energy - safe?

using nuclear energy is the modern day equivalent of using hot rocks to boil water, imo.

The discovery of nuclear reactions need not bring about the destruction of mankind any more than the discovery of matches Albert Einstein quotes
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Old March 17th, 2011, 01:34 AM
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Default Re: Nuclear energy - safe?

I apologize in advance if I am repeating anyhting already touched on, but I just wanted to say it while I had the thought of responding to the topic right off the bat. . .

This has to do with Japans crisis. WTF, the suffered a cataclysmic 9.0 earthquake, and a HUGE tsunami, and people wanna think a nuclear power plant is indestructible???

Nuclear power has it's place, and benefits. Point blank, it beats out coal(even "clean burning", lasts longer, and has a higher output.

It really grinds my gears that people wanna put up a stink NOW, after destruction of "Biblical" proportions, to try and say Nuclear is bad, blah blah blah. . .

Ya know what, ANYTHING can go bad, especially when circumstances beyond anyones control goes against it.

More people die per year building wind farms then in building/running/maintaining/operating Nuc. Power plants.

Granted, if/when something goes wrong with NP, the potential for something seriously effed up can be severe, but realistically, how often does that happen?

Japan caught the unfortunate series of the perfect storm, and has responded admirably, continues to be proactive, and is doing what they can with what they have. I feel for the circumstances, but I also think it is by NO means the example of what NP should be judged by. Japan got their asses kicked! This is NOT the norm!

My thoughts and positive energy goes out to Japan and all of it's citizens. I am highly moved by their calmness, call to duty, civility, and the recognition that there are things to be done for the greater good despite personal well being. It is really honorable, and I get teary eyed just thinking of that sense of community/country and just functioning as a union.
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  #17  
Old March 17th, 2011, 08:52 AM
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San Onofre is conveniently located between San Diego & LA and near an earthquake fault. Probably nothing will happen. But if it does, a 50 mile exclusion zone like that now around the Fukushima plant would displace (I am estimating here) about 4-5 million people and neutralize the value of countless billions of dollars worth of real estate which banks would have to write off at incredible expense to the American economy. Several plants are located in the center of the country near the New Madrid fault, which produced a series of 8 range quakes at the start of the 19th century. How would the loss of St. Louis effect the country? So play it safe. Phase it out. We know New Madrid will crack again, we know a quake near San Onofre or Diablo Canyon will happen. It Will Happen. Whats going on in Japan is a monumental total tragedy, it is the clearest possible warning there could ever be. Find alternatives. We have talked about some.
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Old March 17th, 2011, 08:52 AM
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Default Re: Nuclear energy - safe?

I don't disagree with anything you said TAT. But the problem is there were known deficiencies and verbalized safety concerns by the engineers at the Fukushima plant. These concerns were ignored. That is where I have a problem with nuclear power.

The same holds true for the Diablo Canyon plant on the central coast of California. There are known safety concerns right from the beginning and continue today. The plant was built one mile from a known active earthquake fault, the Hosgri Fault. And it is built about 40 miles from the San Andreas Fault, which is VERY active.

Building nuclear power plants is one thing. Building them with known safety issues is yet another. If the Diablo Canyon plant suffers the kind of catastrophe as Fukushima, it will affect everyone across the US because of the prevailing westerlies.

It is time to re-think electric production strategies not only in the US, but around the world. A primary source of electricity for my California fale comes from windmills. It works for me!
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Old March 17th, 2011, 03:30 PM
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Default Re: Nuclear energy - safe?

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Originally Posted by TATTRAT View Post
Nuclear power has it's place, and benefits. Point blank, it beats out coal(even "clean burning", lasts longer, and has a higher output.

It really grinds my gears that people wanna put up a stink NOW, after destruction of "Biblical" proportions, to try and say Nuclear is bad, blah blah blah. Ya know what, ANYTHING can go bad, especially when circumstances beyond anyones control goes against it. More people die per year building wind farms then in building/running/maintaining/operating Nuc. Power plants.

Granted, if/when something goes wrong with NP, the potential for something seriously effed up can be severe, but realistically, how often does that happen? This is NOT the norm!
I recall the old adage - Just because we can, doesn't mean we should.
We need to be way more responsible with those things we don't fully know about and are unable to control. Coal is crap, but it's a short term mess in a concentrated are. Nukes are terminal, for centuries at a minimum and there is no containing the spread, wiping out everything we need.

There is nothing happening in Japan that could have been unexpected. They've known forever they sit on highly tenuous fault grounds but put a nuke plant there any way. Japan even exists because of a great tsunami that saved them from the Chinese. Way worse conditions than this can and will happen, this is just a test, of which they are failing dispite the valiant efforts after the case. They blew it with the placement of that plant, along with pathetic backups, and are now exposed as such, plus having been short on 'beyond' emergency tactics and procedures for the inevitable disasters. They are now at a complete loss as to solve the problem, and it's still at low/manageble levels, but it may go truly nuts soon.
We get suckered into thinking there is no problem with nukes because it waits silently, like the best killers do.

I'll bet if it gets worse the Japanese will be saying, once is more than enuf.
Yet, many Americans will watch and deny we have a similar monster waiting to rise and destroy.

Last edited by Ron Whitfield; March 17th, 2011 at 03:37 PM.
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Old March 20th, 2011, 02:10 PM
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Default Re: Nuclear energy - safe?

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...Japan even exists because of a great tsunami that saved them from the Chinese.....
Actually it would be the Mongols as the Asian continent at the time more or less belonged to the Mongol Empire. And it was a typhoon.
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Old March 20th, 2011, 03:26 PM
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Well then..., let's go nukes!
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Old March 21st, 2011, 01:28 AM
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Default Re: Nuclear energy - safe?

Nuclear Energy is an instant gratification choice. In terms of dollars/kwh ROI over the long haul, it's an obvious no brainer. But it is NOT the solution. It comes with a disastrous side effect. Really.

The solution is what I have coined "Point Source Generation". All power needs of everybody will be created within a few miles of where you are at using wind, solar, magnetics, etc. etc. Each house or business will have panels, turbines, or some of the more modern power generation devices that are currently in the news. (Steorn, magnetics, etc.) Some use the term 'distibuted power systems'.

If you favor nuclear power perhaps you should open you mind to other solutions.

PS - The "GRID" will die a slow death in my lifetime. Point source generation will become the norm.

Satellite TV + Cellular Telephone + Solar Power = No More GRID
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Old March 21st, 2011, 02:55 AM
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Default Re: Nuclear energy - safe?

Wind power and solar energy by themselves are too variable to be a reliable source of energy. A storage system is needed to smooth out the variations and that is a problem in itself. Batteries are not up to the job yet and the ones that have promise are an environmental horror.

I think nuclear power will eventually become the most common source for power. If you look at the history of steam power you will see many boiler explosions that killed a lot of people. It took a while to learn how to tame that one. We are still in the learning phase of nuclear power, and this tragedy in Japan is one big lesson.

I am surprised that all the nuclear plants in Japan are within feet of the ocean. This in a country that is hit by tsunamis more than any other region. In the words of Jay Leno “What did you think would happen?”

I also notice nuclear plants in earthquake zones being touted as designed to withstand a 7.5 earthquake. So what happens when an 8.0 earthquake happens?

Looks like we need to design these things better.

I would like to know more about what caused the backup cooling system to fail at the Fukushima Daiichi plant.
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Old March 21st, 2011, 08:02 AM
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Default Re: Nuclear energy - safe?

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I also notice nuclear plants in earthquake zones being touted as designed to withstand a 7.5 earthquake. So what happens when an 8.0 earthquake happens?

Looks like we need to design these things better.
Posted in agreement with 68.

All these safety precautions to worry about. It's like buying a car capable of withstanding a 60mph collision into a wall, only to be hit head-on by a 75mph semi truck. The moment we build according to a maximum predicted disaster, something unexpected occurs.

Last edited by bjd392; March 21st, 2011 at 08:35 AM.
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Old March 21st, 2011, 08:53 AM
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I am surprised that all the nuclear plants in Japan are within feet of the ocean..
As well as many of them in the US, especially on the West Coast. That is the cheap place to build them because of the proximity to ocean water to cool the reactor. Nevermind the environmental impact on the ocean habitat nearby because of an increase in the water temperature at the outlet point.

It is easy to dismiss the environmental damage caused by a nuclear meltdown because "it is not in backyard, why should I care, I just want to heat my swimming pool at the lowest possible cost." The reality is that a reactor meltdown on the West Coast will cause a deadzone for hundreds, maybe a thousand miles downwind because of the Westerlies.

It was recently discovered that the emergency shutdown system at Diablo Canyon was turned off through human error during scheduled maintenance. It remained off for 18 months before anyone discovered the error. This incident was within the last two years. It wouldn't have taken a 7.5 scale to cause a meltdown. Even a minor quake could have caused a significant nuclear incident.

But fine, those of you who are staunch supporters of nuclear power at any cost.......let's build the next one in your backyard.
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