Monday, March 21, 2011

So, Japan has you thinking about American nuclear?

Good, I say!  Personally, I think it is impossible for the US to consider increasing it's energy independence without nuclear power plants (fission, that is).  But, current nuclear will not solve our problems.  We need fusion and we need it in the next 30 years or so.  That is just my opinion.

At least the Japan disaster has raised some interesting issues and dialog about the future of American nuclear plants and safety.  Granted, the popular news agencies have been quite idiotic about it all, but I really think the American people take anything showing up on TV with a huge grain of salt these days.  Well, at least the younger generation does (40 and under... ugh, did I just call 40 year olds young...).

I have found another great article on Japan's nuclear disaster, but geared more toward the implications on American nuclear policy.  It is an interview with Rush Holt, a PhD in nuclear physics, a long time member of Congress and one of the few people to beat Watson at Jeopardy!  ZapperZ, over at Physics and Physicists, posted this and I thought it was a great article.

So, here it is: Rush Holt on Japan's Nuclear Crisis.

Please, let me know your comments, thoughts or questions.  Cheers!


  1. I think about nuclear plant problems only slightly, and that's only because I live less than an hour from the reactor here on the Texas coast. I'm not worried about any problems, mostly because I know that it's not worth worrying about. I did cringe when the local paper finally ran an article about the safety of our plant after the problems in Japan. One of the PR people at the plant said the magic words: "And it's not like we have earthquakes here." *eye roll* No, it's not like we have earthquakes here. But we ARE in a fault zone, and fault lines are kind of like volcanoes, just because they are dormant doesn't mean they can't wake up. People can be so stupid about things sometimes!! When the earthquake first struck, I told my family that if I had to ride out a 8.9 quake, there's no place I'd rather be than Japan. And the same goes for their nuclear issues. I have the feeling that they are totally on top of things and taking care of things as well as possible. I am not as confident that it would be handled as quickly or well if there were ever a problem here.

  2. The vast majority of the nuclear plants in the US are of at least the same era or newer than the one having problems in Japan. What this means, is they all are designed for approximately the same safety regulations. The International Atomic Energy Agency oversees safety inspections and safety validation for most of the world's nuclear plants. This leads to a mostly uniform safety program. While I would agree with you that the Japanese government is typically seen as quite efficient and safe, I wouldn't say I would rather be there than here for a natural disaster. In fact, you saw that the Japanese were much more risk tolerant with their evacuation radius (10 miles) compared to that suggested by the US government for US people in Japan (50 miles). I would, in general, agree with Rush Holt in that the US is not more or better regulated than Japan. So the scale of the disaster is likely to be the same in the US as it is in Japan given the same impetus (very large earthquake + tsunami + coastal nuclear power plant).

  3. I suppose my lack of confidence comes from my being around while they were building this particular plant and all of the problems they had during construction. It was the local joke that when they went online we were all going to start glowing green. Don't get me wrong... if I were actually concerned about the safety I wouldn't be living here. But like they say... shit happens. If something were to happen at this plant I can only hope that they are as "on top of things" as the Japanese seem to be.


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