DailyDirt: Drill, Baby, Drill!

from the urls-we-dig-up dept

Hindsight makes it easy to criticize decisions that were made that, in retrospect, seem foolish. The word 'tsunami' was coined by the Japanese, and yet a nuclear power plant apparently wasn't designed to fully withstand one (and an associated earthquake). Lots of folks have asked: "How could they not see this coming?" But it's not that simple, and a nuclear power plant isn't the only energy facility that can devastate the environment. Let's not forget the BP Oil Spill. As a reminder, here are some interesting links about the Gulf of Mexico and the still-unfolding aftermath of the Deepwater Horizon disaster.

Filed Under: bp oil spill, deepwater horizon, dolphins, gulf of mexico, microbial spit
Companies: bp

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  1. icon
    Michael Ho (profile), 18 Mar 2011 @ 7:26pm


    Hi okwhen,

    I think we both can agree that radioactive materials can have extremely long half-lives and are extremely bad for biological organisms like ourselves. But these facts alone don't seem to me to be sufficient to eliminate nuclear power from our options of energy technologies.

    The offsetting fact is that highly radioactive materials can also be contained (albeit indefinitely). Chernobyl's temporary sarcophagus is expected to be replaced with another, more permanent structure... and I'm optimistic that containment is a viable solution (though the new sarcophagus may also someday need to be replaced). There's an argument to be made that perhaps the costs of vigilant monitoring should be (and are not currently) incorporated into the plans of any nuclear power facility. But that's a different discussion....

    If wind or solar energy seemed more competitive and scalable, then I'd be inclined to agree that nuclear power shouldn't be used. But for the current available technologies, I think nuclear has to be included in the energy mix (as it already is) and its share of energy generation increased. We just need to learn from past mistakes. There will never again be a Chernobyl-like design. And the "Generation II" reactors should be phased out as "Generation III & IV" reactors are introduced (or retrofitted with even more safety features). Perhaps these older reactor designs should be decommissioned faster, but then replacing them with newer facilities in a timely fashion doesn't seem very likely.

    The current disaster in Japan will not be as bad as Chernobyl by many accounts -- which is proof that engineering designs are improving! So the evidence actually points in a good direction.... If more advanced reactor designs actually performed worse than older designs, then I'd have less (or a complete lack of..) confidence in nuclear engineering's ability to create safer nuclear power plants.

    Hopefully, this is an intelligent response.. :D


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