There is danger of a core meltdown at the nuclear power plants damaged by the Tsunami in Japan. Two of the reactors (unit 1 and unit 3) have exploded due to a buildup of Hydrogen, when the cooling system proved inadequate. If the fuel rods melt and form a molten-lava like substance that escapes the containers,
a meltdown in Unit 2 is especially a concern, if reports out of Japan are to be believed.
We could rest a little easier if Japan had a record of candid reports when it comes to nuclear emission problems. In the past they have been found to be less than candid. Can we believe them? They said that the emissions so far have been in safe amounts, but the US military did not get that memo, and when they detected dangerous amounts, they moved the fleet, and hosed down the exposed sailors.
Stephanie Cooke, nuclear expert, speaking on the Jenk Yugar show on MSNBC, said today there are “multiple things to consider.” Evacuation of the site would mean the rest of the site would be at risk. She also noted the risk from the venting that is currently going on.
In a best case scenario, Unit 2 will not explode or melt down. The sea water being used to cool these rods in all three units will be stored safely and not released accidentally or intentionally. In the worst case scenario, a meltdown will go beyond the containers and then poison much of Northern Japan, and the water and air downstream and downwind.
USA Nuclear Power Folly
The USA has 104 nuclear power plants, more than any other country, and many of these plants are near to population centers. Several of the GE plants in New England have a construction design similar to those now teetering in Japan. Some reactors in the Midwest, California, and SC are on earthquake fault lines in the USA.
The majority of the US youth do not even remember Three Mile Island, but it scarred enough of us, that there was a moratorium on building new plants for several decades. There has been relatively little improvement in design saftey since. Instead recent efforts in design have been dedicated to making cheap, almost bic lighter disposable reactors that would crumple in an earthquake.
Nuclear Power Disaster in the USA?
In a natural disaster in the US, nuclear power becomes a distraction or a danger, and certainly not an asset. The units in San Clemente, California are in danger. The Seabrook and Pilgrim plants in the NE are at risk. We do not have backup on the grid to cool down nuclear reactors anywhere for more than 4 hours.
The cost economically to the USA of nuclear power is more pervasive than this implies. NO one has a clue on how to store the waste. The decision by the Obama administration, to build more of these plants, even if they were safe, would most likely be at the expense of the only safe forms of alternative energy- wind and solar. With the deep sea drilling catastraphe last year and now this wake up call, you would think that the politicians would reorient with regards to nuclear power, and start to move in the direction of Brazil, China, and many other countries, who take the lead on these technologies, while the USA takes the role of reluctant follower rather than trailblazing leader.