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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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By 3kliksphilip on 7/19/2007 2:44:02 PM , Rating: 2
"it is possible for something to go disastrously wrong with a nuclear powerplant? ...it can only be a matter of time"

But nuclear powerplants can go more disasterously wrong than any other power plant that I can think of. I'd like to see a windfarm cause as much commotion as Chernobyl did ;)

As for 1 major disaster every 10,000 years... how long have we had nuclear powerplants? 30 years? How many accidents have there been? Chernobyl and 3 mile island? At least if your theory of 1 in 10,000 years holds up, it'll be at least another 20,000 years before the next accident.

'So you don't care if you die from natural radiation, only the manmade variety' - Not so much manmade, but AVOIDABLE radiation. If I die because I climb up a granite cliff, I'd probably think along the lines of 'hmmm, that was very unlucky!' but if I die because, say, a nuclear powerplant explodes, I'd think 'That could have been avoided'. You get the gist of it.

Can you honestly say that nuclear is safer than solar and wind turbines? Is it actually possible for a disaster which kills more than a couple of people with these sources of power? Sure, somebody might slip from the top of a wind farm or get crushed by a solar panel, but at least it's a nice, quick death. And it's their fault for being in such close proximity in the first place.

'There's more low-level waste'

HLW accounts for over 95% of the total radioactivity produced in the process of nuclear electricity generation. - Wikipedia.


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