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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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I'm in favor of nuclear power...
By Griswold on 7/16/2007 3:51:06 PM , Rating: 4
... but when I see blob propaganda like this, I have to drop my 2 cents.

6.8 is not the worst this region can come up with. What happens if the next quake is of a 7.5 quality? One that lasts longer than just 20s, maybe?

The epicenter was not "almost directly underneath the massive Kashiwazaki-Kariwa Plant", it was over 100km offshore.

He also didnt mention that only 3 of the 7 reactors were running when the quake struck. Two times the number of sources for error translates into a higher probability of error, dont you agree? Good thing 4 of them were shut down. You cant completely rule out any accidents.. thats why I'm against such "super plants" with half a dozen reactors on a small area.

Good thing masher told us that only a "tiny amount" of "mildly" radioactive fluid was leaked - hey, as long as its only "mildly" radioactive, all is good. Especially since it apparently went thru the sewer system into the ocean. Phew, lucky japanese!

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.

If you want to read for yourself instead of jibber-jabber, check out the link below. It obviously includes other parts of the world - radiation doesnt stop at borders nor is it limited to certain hemispheres. Nor does it in the least matter if its a commercial reactor or a reprocessing plant or a scientific prototype - I'm sure the people who were affected dont care about such finickiness.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_civilian_nucl...

Especially the near catastrophic events in japan are of interest... but that doesnt fit into the picture of a blog like this, right?

My problem with nuclear power is not the technology itself, its the people running the business behind it. Look at germany. They currently have a nuclear scandal where a simple transformer fire lead to an emergency shutdown which lead to the discovery of massive operating errors during the shutdown which the operating company tried to cover up and hide from the nuclear safety agency - history is full of such incidents, also and especially in the western world.

So, the question is, do I trust the technology? Yes I do. Do I trust all the people/companies operating it? Not further than I can throw their CEO.




By aganaki on 7/16/2007 5:11:38 PM , Rating: 3
quote:
Good thing masher told us that only a "tiny amount" of "mildly" radioactive fluid was leaked - hey, as long as its only "mildly" radioactive, all is good
Correct. Pretty much everything is midly radioactive. Some things are more than mildly. Bananas. Smoke detectors. Granite countertops. Houses in many parts of a Rocky Mountain or New England state. A cross-country flight. You name it.

So this tiny trace of radioactivity went down a pipe and got flushed into the ocean, which itself has trillions of tons of radioactive elements already in it. Big deal. Even had someone collected it all and drunk it, they wouldn't have even gotten sick.


By Hoser McMoose on 7/16/2007 6:18:13 PM , Rating: 3
quote:
hey, as long as its only "mildly" radioactive, all is good. Especially since it apparently went thru the sewer system into the ocean

The water coming out of your tap at home is mildly radioactive as well. Also, the ocean is about the best place it could possibly go. Radioaction is only dangerous in high doses, if you dilute it by, ohh I dunno, spreading it across a giant body of water like an ocean, the dosage is going to almost instantly drop to totally negligible levels.


By Ringold on 7/16/2007 6:22:59 PM , Rating: 3
To start, I'd just say that if a massive quake struck directly beneath or near a massive nuclear plant that, assuming the containment building wasn't breached (I'm not sure why it would be as strong as they're built, even if the reactors within them were shaken to pieces), the local area would be so devastated a mild radiation leak would be the least of their (immediate) problems.

quote:
Not further than I can throw their CEO.


I dont care to make it a huge argument, but that's the wrong attitude to have -- at least, the blame is being directed at the wrong place. While government shouldn't manipulate markets it's perfectly reasonable for them to be powerful advocates of public safety and to therefore have rigorous inspection in places deemed important to said safety. If regulatory capture took place of one kind or another it's not the CEO's fault, whose purpose in life is profit maximization, but the governments who should have eternal vigilance for corruption. Perhaps there was none and inspection standards were too weak,I'm not familiar with the case, but in any event, that sounds very much like it was a government failure and less a corporate one. Not to entirely shift the blame, but if a food inspector see's suspicious sudden activity (supposedly to hide violations) and doesn't investigate and prosecute any safety issues then the inspector is to blame every bit as much as the resteraunt itself.


"Let's face it, we're not changing the world. We're building a product that helps people buy more crap - and watch porn." -- Seagate CEO Bill Watkins

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