Earthquake Strikes Nuclear Power Plant -- Plant Strikes Back
July 16, 2007 12:45 PM
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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
, 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
to build 30 new reactors, in a bid to reduce air pollution and provide cheap power for its burgeoning economy.
This article is over a month old, voting and posting comments is disabled
8/15/2007 2:08:07 PM
Why is it most of the western nations are scared to death of nuclear power? Is it they are afraid of another Chernobyl or Three Mile Island. Today, the probability of such an event is very, very low. Nuclear power is probably the safest and cleanest form of energy available. If you question the claim of it being safe, just look. When operated properly, no environmental damage can occur, no radiation leaks, or anything to that extent. Look at France, most of their power comes from nuclear power plants, and they maintain a 100% safety record.
It's already been pointed out that most alternative fuels are futile. They are met by intense opposition. Hydro damages fish habitat, wind is an eyesore to the landscape, solar is too costly (and it is). The only type of power worth considering is nuclear. Wouldn't it be nice if the tens of thousands of coal fired power plants in the US were replaced by nuclear power plants? For one nuclear energy requires less mass for the same power, which in turn means less power plants, which means less "eyesores" on the landscape. A significant reduction of coal power plants would for one, mean way cleaner air for all of us (most of the pollution comes from coal fired power plants).
"There is a single light of science, and to brighten it anywhere is to brighten it everywhere." -- Isaac Asimov
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