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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: Going to take a long time.
By SavagePotato on 7/18/2007 9:19:27 AM , Rating: 2
Why don't you see people lining up to live there and all the checkpoints coming down? And if you actualy read my post you would see that I mentioned the other reactors were going till 2000. I also mentioned that the entire area around them was excavated to remove the highly radioactive soil. Theres still plenty of highly radioactive soil buildings and vehicles littering the area. Maybe your definition of inhabitable is different than all the other people that evacuated and never returned I don't know.

RE: Going to take a long time.
By porkpie on 7/18/2007 11:47:12 AM , Rating: 2
The fact remains that some people DO live there, and many others work there, coming and going on a daily basis. How is it that a region you call "uninhabitable" is inhabited? Explain that one.

Why aren't millions of people "lining up" to move back into the region? Why would ANYONE already living in a city in Ukraine choose to move to the middle of a deserted rural area, without infrastructure or economic growth? Did you miss the last 200 years of human history? People move FROM these areas into the cities. Now that the government paid these people to move into cities, it'd take a police force to get most of them to leave.

RE: Going to take a long time.
By SavagePotato on 7/18/2007 2:41:36 PM , Rating: 2
The people that do live there do so at the risk to their own health, because they refused to leave. There are always those that will. The people that worked at the plant did so in a controled and cleaned up environment. Living in a town specificaly created to house them where they were brought in by train everyday.

The land is contaminated and no longer useable as farmland, which it primarily was. As well as being a health risk to anyone living there on a long term basis, if not a more immediate risk. The areas around the plant were compleltely excavated and filled with clean soil, if not for that it would have been impossible and extremely hazardous for those workers to be there. The thriving wildlife and vegitation are contaminated as well. You would be a fool to eat any of the vegitables or meat from any of the animals dwelling there.

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