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The world's largest nuclear power plant demonstrates inherent safety

Those opposed to nuclear power have long raised doubts over its safety.  Often raised is the question, "what would happen if major earthquake struck one?"  Would a radioactivity release endanger millions?  

This morning, we got a chance to find out. A 6.8 earthquake struck northern Japan, almost directly underneath the massive Kashiwazaki-Kariwa Plant, responsible for a third of the Japanese residential electricity supply. The quake leveled hundreds of homes, left fissures 3 feet wide in the ground, and swayed buildings in Tokyo, 300 km away.

What happened at the plant itself? An electrical transformer caught fire and was quickly extinguished. And a tiny amount of mildly radioactive water was released -- one billionth of the safe amount allowed under under Japanese law, or 1/1,000,000 of what is generated from a single dental x-ray. Not even the workers actually inside the reactor were exposed to a dangerous dose, much less the general public. All reactors were shut down for inspection purposes, and initial reports indicate no damage or safety issues. 

And that's it.  Nothing to see here folks, move along.

The western world's nuclear safety record remains unbroken. Over five decades and thousands of reactor-years later, not one person has ever been harmed by commercial power generation. Nuclear power generates no greenhouse gases, and operating costs continue to drop, reaching a level of 1.66 cents per kilowatt-hour in 2006 -- one twentieth the cost of solar power. Despite all this, the U.S. and most of Europe continue to shy away from nuclear power, and pursue pie-in-the-sky energy approaches that, even if they eventually become feasible, will remain forever more expensive to operate.

The West may be ignoring nuclear power, but others are not. Last year, China announced plans to build 30 new reactors, in a bid to reduce air pollution and provide cheap power for its burgeoning economy.


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RE: That worked pretty well.
By Xerio on 7/16/2007 2:09:26 PM , Rating: 3
quote:
But, as one of Greenpeace spokes people once put it:
"We don't like coal and gas because they polute, we don't like nuclear because of waste, we don't like wind because it kills birds and spoils the view and we don't like sollar because it takes up the land"


What does that leave? Hydro-electric? Oh, wait. Hydro-electric causes environmental damage, greenhouse gas emissions, and population relocation (according to Wikipedia). And what if the dam breaks?

So, I guess we can't use any energy at all. Let's go back 200 years and forget about all the technological advances that we have made. Is that what all these environmentalists want us to do? Are they willing to do this? I am all about looking at energy-production advances that will reduce polution, but how many of us, including these activists, are willing to give up our modern conveniences?


RE: That worked pretty well.
By TomZ on 7/16/2007 3:49:52 PM , Rating: 3
Many of the more extreme environmentalists wish there were far fewer humans on the planet. They realize that is the only real way to turn back the clock. Anyone who truly believes in this view should lead by example and remove themselves from burdening the planet, one way or the other. If a person believes in these views, then it is hypocritical to even live, let alone have a family. I just can't get behind that.


RE: That worked pretty well.
By brandonmichael on 7/16/2007 8:14:16 PM , Rating: 5
Rather than remove themselves, the extreme environmentalists would probably exterminate the smug SUV driving, dual GPU running energy wastoids from the planet... Just as extreme anti-abortionists would rather gun down abortion doctors.

Extreme anything is stupid... Bringing it up is pointless, unless you are trying to denigrate the whole conservation movement by associating it with its most extreme incarnations.


RE: That worked pretty well.
By porkpie on 7/16/2007 9:44:30 PM , Rating: 5
Problem is those "most extreme incarnations" are the ones running Greepeace, The Sierra Club, Earth First, and all the other environmental organizations. They're not just nutjobs...they're the leaders of the movement.


RE: That worked pretty well.
By TomZ on 7/16/2007 10:33:48 PM , Rating: 5
quote:
Problem is those "most extreme incarnations" are the ones running Greepeace, The Sierra Club, Earth First, and all the other environmental organizations. They're not just nutjobs...they're the leaders of the movement.

QFT.

Add PETA to that list, although they're not technically "environmentalists." Freaks.


RE: That worked pretty well.
By Furen on 7/17/2007 12:32:35 AM , Rating: 2
They ask for the whole pie to get but a slice. If they weren't so vocal about every single thing, lots more environmental damage would happen. A small leak of chemicals into a river is probably insignificant but if there wasn't a big fuss made about it then everyone under the sun would be "leaking" small amounts, enough so that it really would be significant. Try to be a little more tolerant of people instead of calling them all nut jobs just because you think they are overly sensitive to these things. I, personally, think that everyone who is outraged any time an increase in taxes, governmental regulations, less military spending or diplomacy with our "enemies" are even mentioned is pretty closed minded but calling them right-winger nutjobs would be inappropriate, especially considering how they keep the tax-happy democrats in check.


RE: That worked pretty well.
By TomZ on 7/17/2007 9:50:27 AM , Rating: 3
Next time you apply for a job, try asking for 10X the expected salary, and see how rational that strategy is!

Really, the problem with that strategy is that it drains all the credibility of these organizations amongst "thinking" people. The global warming debacle is an excellent example of this.


RE: That worked pretty well.
By Furen on 7/17/2007 4:43:36 PM , Rating: 4
You mean it drains their credibility with you. You do not sympathize with their cause to begin with and they're not trying to change your mind and, of course, they are not trying to please you either.

I usually sympathize with their causes more on the grounds quality-of-life than on the "we have to keep species from going extinct no matter what the sacrifice" mindset. I like being able to go to national parks, being able to swim in rivers and lakes, having less-polluted air in cities, etc. Sometimes I find their views excessive but at other times I think they're right on. Remember that our society is based on an adversary system of sorts, just as there are extreme environmental groups there are also extreme economic interests (for lack of a better description) that would probably strip mine the whole world to make a quick buck. In the end both groups get listened to and we don't go to either extreme. Remember that in the political world you are either very vocal or ignored.

Next time you apply for a job, try asking for 10X the expected salary, and see how rational that strategy is!

Now, that is the most unreasonable comparison you could have probably done. This is not a zero-sum game, both sides can achieve something without anyone losing out. It isn't about doing one thing or the other, we can achieve both environmental and economic goals by reaching a reasonable compromise.

When I apply for a job I usually do ask for more than the minimum about I want to get, something along the lines of 5-10% more, and negotiate. This, of course, I do in person, and I have found it to be a reasonably successful strategy.


RE: That worked pretty well.
By TomZ on 7/17/2007 4:57:05 PM , Rating: 2
quote:
You mean it drains their credibility with you. You do not sympathize with their cause to begin with and they're not trying to change your mind and, of course, they are not trying to please you either.

That's not true, and I'm not sure how you could know me well enough to say that. I am actually very supportive of many of the goals of these organizations, just not their extreme viewpoints, over-the-top rhetoric, scare tactics, etc.

You're probably right, though. Not being of the "sheep" variety, their heavy-handed techniques are probably not going to win me over. But I have my own notions of right and wrong anyway, and I don't really need an organization like Greenpeace or PETA to tell me how to live my life.


RE: That worked pretty well.
By Furen on 7/17/2007 8:44:49 PM , Rating: 2
Well, that came out harsher than I expected, I didn't mean to say that you didn't care about the environment at all or anything of the sort, I meant to say that you are just not their target demographic. Here's the thing about scare tactics, they actually work! Most people aren't driven to action except when told they face extremely grievous consequences.


RE: That worked pretty well.
By smitty3268 on 7/17/2007 5:51:20 PM , Rating: 2
quote:
Really, the problem with that strategy is that it drains all the credibility of these organizations amongst "thinking" people. The global warming debacle is an excellent example of this.


It might have drained the credibility for you, but I think bringing up the "global warming debacle" is exactly wrong. In the history of mankind, there have never been more people concerned (at least superficially) about global warming and conservation, so I would say the environmental groups have been tremendously successful. It's not a debacle, it's been their greatest success ever.


RE: That worked pretty well.
By TomZ on 7/17/2007 10:04:24 PM , Rating: 3
The situation with global warming is exactly the type of situation I'm talking about - gross exaggeration, FUD, etc. It does appear to be becoming successful. It's only not a "debacle" if you are not concerned about the truth.

In other words, let's focus our efforts, money, and very limited attention span on a real problem. In other words, something that is killing millions of people today, something that can probably be solved if we focus on it. Rather than something that, if you program computer models to show, could cause a possible problem hundreds of years down the road. Instead of something that we can't change anyway, regardless of what our real impact is.

Better yet, let's program those computer models to show us going into an ice age again, like we thought in the 1970's. It would be fun to flip-flop and confuse people even more. Then we can distract them even more from what is important.


"There is a single light of science, and to brighten it anywhere is to brighten it everywhere." -- Isaac Asimov

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