Monday, March 14, 2011


I have nothing all that meaningful to add regarding Japan's nuclear crisis, but have long been conflicted about the use of nuclear power as a viable alternative because of exactly what is happening now. While 8.9 earthquakes are quite uncommon and maybe future construction can learn from the events in Japan, are the benefits of nuclear power worth the risk of future meltdown? 

While the issues in Japan are incomparable with the ones from Chernobyl, the fact that either happened at all is reason for pause.  I know wind and solar infrastructure is expensive, but if a wind turbine breaks, it won’t exactly lead to lingering, generational health problems. 

Anyone have any thoughts on it?


  1. Yeah, I have thoughts. What do you do when the wind ceases to blow? And do you think mercury contaminated water plus air particulate from coal combustion doesn't lead to lingering, generational health problems?

    If anything, the fact that these 40 year-old reactors withstood an earthquake exceeding the original design criteria, and a tsunami wave exceeding the original design criteria, with relatively minimal emission of radiation thus far (despite the paranoia you see on CNN), should only further prove the inherent safety of nuclear power. In fact the major concern now is not the reactor cores, which are intact, but the spent fuel pools. Well, if we would either develop a waste storage means (such as Yucca mountain) or be more open to spent fuel reprocessing (it opens the door for one to make a Plutonium fueled weapon) the waste problem could be solved and the concerns from Japan right now would be lessened.

    Chernobyl was a poor, non-failsafe design of a reactor installed in an office building. It's not at all analogous to a modern Generation III reactor design (which we don't even have in the US yet since we haven't built anything in 25 years).

    If you want everyone to ditch gasoline vehicles for electric ones, you'd better have an answer on how to support the grid. There is not enough square miles of terrain in the country, at around 600 watts per square meter of solar power captured at 15% efficiency by a panel, to fill all of our needs. We're running out of oil and killing ourselves with coal. Other than natgas, nuclear is the only feasible source of energy.

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