March 29th, 2011

asleep at mal 9/09

Fukushima Nuclear Disaster

So, I've been seeing a lot of inaccurate reporting and fear-mongering regarding this, and thought some of you would appreciate links to real, accurate information.

http://www.iaea.org/newscenter/news/tsunamiupdate01.html has finally put up new updates, many of them are transparent and understandable for the layperson which is great. But those are relatively new.

A much more comprehensive source is http://georneys.blogspot.com/ - a geology PhD student is interviewing her dad, a Nuclear Engineer about what's going on. They're doing updates every day or two depending on travel and work commitments, and it's excellent.

I'm tired of seeing links saying that Fukushima could be as bad as Chernobyl. There's no-way that could happen, even if things took a dramatic turn for the worse and all the fuel in the four badly damaged plants melted down. The reason for this is that the plant design and the type of fuel are completely different, and news organizations seem to be fear-mongering all too much.

People also seem to be over-reacting; in the USA even here on the west coast we do not need to be taking iodine tablets; and radiation shelter sales going up is way way overkill. There is not any real chance of a cloud of fallout covering the world as Chernobyl caused.

The worst case scenario at Fukushima is something like a slightly worse than TMI disaster - in that there are 6 reactors impacted, not one. Having been at my grandmothers just downstream of TMI when it happened, that's scary enough. There's always been some part of me who wonders whether my health conditions have anything to do with that - we were definitely exposed to some radiation, but there was no real information made public then to tell us how much and they continue to cover up the ongoing impact to people and animals in the area.

Having lived through TMI, I never thought stopping all nuclear power was the answer, and I still feel the same way now. We need to re-evaluate all our nuclear plants, verifying safety and updating the worst-case scenarios for them. Whenever possible, we need to upgrade existing plants to be safer and perhaps have passive systems to provide water. But nuclear power is clean and safe if it's done right - the nuclear power plants used by the US Navy are closed systems, and they've never had a serious accident, so we have done it right before, and we can do it going forward with better planning and more safety checks.