[FoRK] Why Fukushima made me stop worrying and love nuclear power

Stephen Williams sdw at lig.net
Wed Mar 23 15:09:05 PDT 2011

On 3/23/11 2:40 PM, Damien Morton wrote:
> On Wed, Mar 23, 2011 at 4:02 PM, Stephen Williams<sdw at lig.net>  wrote:
>> The main worst case scenario is scaring a lot of people.  In a modern,
>> practical nuclear plant, it doesn't seem possible under any scenario to
>> cause more overall damage and cost to people than our currently dominant
>> energy sources already do every year.
> http://www.aolnews.com/2011/03/22/chernobyl-cleanup-survivors-message-for-japan-run-away-as-qui/
> <http://www.aolnews.com/2011/03/22/chernobyl-cleanup-survivors-message-for-japan-run-away-as-qui/>
> Natalia Manzurova, one of the few survivors among those directly involved in
> the long cleanup of Chernobyl, was a 35-year-old engineer at a nuclear plant
> in Ozersk, Russia, in April 1986 when she and 13 other scientists were told
> to report to the wrecked, burning plant in the northern Ukraine.

Yes, 60 year old Russian technology, government, and practices were horrible.  And Fukushima's mostly-40 year old technology isn't 
up to modern standards either.  What is your point exactly?  Perhaps you'd be just as likely to take Soyuz 1, which the astronauts 
themselves helped find 203 structural problems with, than the Space Shuttle?  I doubt it.

Cautionary tales?  Yes.  Demonstration of how things are likely to fail in future designs?  Hardly.

> ...
> "It'll be like somebody dropped a bomb, and there'll be a big cloud of very,
> very radioactive material above the ground," Allen said, noting that it
> would contain uranium and plutonium, as well as the fission products.
> Should these events happen, the best outcome would be if the winds are
> blowing east and push the radioactive plume over the Pacific Ocean, he said.
> "It (the radioactivity) will fall out in the ocean and everything will be
> fine," he said.

If the locals let this happen, that would be very bad.  But there are a number of ways to prevent and mitigate it.  For one thing, 
this would be a steam "explosion" of limited power.  It ought to be possible to capture and filter the "outgassing", given some 
time.  In any case, even if the worst scenario happens, it will likely still not be an actual, rather than perceived, major disaster.

And it is still not indicative a likely failure mode of a modern design.


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