Sunday, March 13, 2011

Awful! Japan,we wish you the very best luck from now on:

As Japan faces the possibility of reactor meltdown and dirty radiation, I can't help remembering how the "experts" sold the safety of nuclear reactors, back in the 1950's and '60s and '70s. They offered expert analyses proving that an accident at a nucler reactor was unlikely to happen for 10,000 years. Let me guess at a few things those "analyses" failed to consider: Operators accidentally setting a control room on fire (actually happened in Georgia, US); Chernobyl; Three Mile Island; and oh, a really powerful offshore earthquake.


Ender said...

...oops accidentally pressed publish. Whatever. Bottom line: a lot of stuff went wrong that perhaps might have been prevented with more extreme safety design. Yet even with all of those problems, there are enough layers of backups and safety procedures that the real risk to the Japanese population is minimal

The Precision Blogger said...

There are always unexpected issues. I believe that three mile island qualifies because there was an explosion inside the containment vessel, that, fortunately, was contained. Could have been worse. The operators who set their control room on fire are symtomatic of another problem that plagues the nuclear power industry: the jobs are so boring that it's hard to hire qualified personnel. Maybe the payscales should be doubled. Incompetent operators were not part of the "experts" safety calculations, and there's no telling how far that sort of thing can go.

Let's see how much radioactivity is released before we decide it's a minor issue. I agree, it's possible tht the release could be minor, but we're not done yet. Stay tuned for the violent discussions at home about whether such an earthquake/disaster could ever happen here.

And by the way, where should we bury the radioactive waste that more and more nuclear plants produce?
- PB