A case for building sturdier nuclear power plants.

The 8.9 Richter earthquake of 11 march 2011 afternoon and subsequent tsunami which devastated most of Japan has raised before the world a moral and scientific poser on the issue of safety of nuclear plants. The Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power plant has since become a cause for concern because of fears of a nuclear meltdown and leakage of radiations from the reactor owing to a failure of the designed cooling system. The fission reactor (Mark 1 type) has a design which has been debated upon on account of safety for over 40 years now. This type of reactor, despite the design concerns, is widely used in the production of electricity all over the world including the US and India.

 

A debate seems to be raging against the production of energy using nuclear methods. Let us consider the other options we have before us to generate power. One, there are coal based thermal power plants which burn hydrocarbon fuel to generate electricity. This leads to the greenhouse effect – the main reason behind global warming and other environmental issues, for instance, the deterioration of ecology of a particular area. Two, there are hydro electric plants that generate electricity not by transforming water into steam but by making use of raw water power to run turbines. However, this method of power generation requires massive investments followed by long gestation periods and abundant supply of water in rivers / streams. Topography of the region also matters. The mountainous regions have a better chance of harnessing the potential of free flowing water contrary to the plains where only small scale plants could be set up. Three, solar and wind power, which are widely referred to as renewable sources of energy, are considered the cheapest, the most reliable and the cleanest way of producing electric power. But the technology and the infrastructure required for this is still in nascent stages of development and to expect such ventures to cater to the exponential increase in the demands for energy, particularly in larger and populous countries, would tantamount to wishful thinking, at least for the present. Again, like water streams in mountainous regions, wind energy can only be harnessed in the coastal areas. Solar Energy production also faces a drawback as the Sun may not be shining uniformly in all weathers so as to recharge and keep the photo-voltaic cells running.

 

Nuclear energy holds the promise and capability of fulfilling our energy needs in all weathers, at all locations and under all conditions. Unfortunately, there have been instances of serious accidents and disasters at the nuclear facilities the world over including the US, the erstwhile USSR and now the technologically very advanced, Japan. What to do then? Does that mean we abandon the nuclear plants and put a cap on setting up of the ones for the future? Certainly not. On the contrary, by learning from the failures we ought to be thinking in terms of designing sturdier and safer plants. As a measure of safety every nuclear plant built anywhere in the world should have a close  as well as a stand by alternative that could be activated in the wake of an emergency so as to bury and plug the critical portion of the plant where radiations could emit in case of an accident or a malfunction.

 

Running away from a problem or avoiding risks is no solution particularly when it is related to energy and environmental matters. Weighing everything in dollars or business terms is not going to solve the energy issues. Yes, the environment is a big concern and so is the security and safety of mankind but in order to curb that we need scientific advancements and innovations, not abandonment.

 

 

 

Views: 23

Tags: Fukushima, Nuclear, plant

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Comment by Alexey Kopchinskiy on March 20, 2012 at 4:39am

"If these accidents and those just waiting to happen.."

So what do you suppose we have to do?

Comment by Dogly on March 19, 2012 at 10:24am

@  Alexey Kopchinskiy , "If there wouldn't be these two terrible accidents, Chernobyl and Fukushima" , well, there were! And Three Mile Island, and every other plant and nuclear mine and facility with leaking tanks, overcrowded storage tanks, and the permanently polluted government weapons sites.  If these accidents and those just waiting to happen, or to be uncovered, hadn't happened the public would be even more ignorant of the dreadful danger of building and operating these meltdowns in waiting.

Comment by Alexey Kopchinskiy on March 19, 2012 at 8:55am

Unswerving Dogly

There are plenty of uranium for next 1000 years. NPPs need thousand times less ore to produce the same amount of energy then oil /gas plants. Wind energy fails as a global alternative. Other renewables are in juvenile state. So what is the "plan B" assuming oil and gas is a no go thing? If there wouldn't be these two terrible accidents, Chernobyl and Fukushima, the nuclear energy would be accepted as the only serious way to overcome our dependency on oil and gas.

But we weren't lucky…. There was Chernobyl and there is Fukushima now. So how can one be a pro nuke now, right? Shame on me! So let's each of us puts a wind turbine in his/her back yard and wait for wind.

Anyway, if republicans win the whole issue of global warming will be removed from the agenda.

Comment by R K Sudan on April 1, 2011 at 2:59am

@dogly

I agree that nuclear power generation is fraught with serious dangers in case of accidents. The severity of the damage is unimaginable particularly when it is going to affect generations. However, there is no easy way out of this compulsion. As outlined in the blog, nuclear energy is indispensable. I am sure scientific research will find out rather soon new ways of designing more dependable plants.

Comment by Dogly on March 31, 2011 at 10:20am
Sorry, sudip.  My comment was for R K Sudan.
Comment by Dogly on March 31, 2011 at 10:10am
sudip, you tell us that the particular design type used in these Japanese nuclear plants "has been a cause of concern" "The fission reactor (Mark 1 type) has a design which has been debated upon on account of safety for over 40 years now. This type of reactor, despite the design concerns, is widely used in the production of electricity all over the world including the US and India. "  Don't you get it?  Those in power knew of these dire risks for FORTY YEARS, and they did nothing to protect us.  We can not trust corporations or governments (is that redundant?) with this product that is killing us.  AND we still can't EVER get rid of the waste.  Can't you wait to promote nuclear power until the hospitals in Japan stop turning away radiation sickness victims? You make me angry.  Your timing is awful!  
Comment by sudip moitra on March 31, 2011 at 9:33am
i have read ur views. thanks. i will comment later.
Comment by Jim DePaulo on March 21, 2011 at 7:13pm

I'm not convinced that nuclear power is a viable option in the long haul, the cost to build them to be risk free(r) will be outrageous and the supply of uranium is as limited as is oil.
Research into Thorium Reactors needs to be given some high priority research money – before China beats us to it.

The nuclear industry is no different than the coal and oil industry - their only concern is the bottom line.

Comment by John Camilli on March 21, 2011 at 5:02pm

I like ho the president got on tv that morning and said "so far, there are no concerns with regard to the safety of the nuclear power plants, but the situation is being closely monitored." As if a radiation leak is something that takes time to notice. Radiation detection is almost 200-year-old technology, and we have models that work in homes. Those fucks new right away that there was a problem, but they always have to play parent to our scared, fragile, child-like minds, don't they?

 

Fuck government, for exactly that type of shit. Reality is difficult enough to figure out without some holier-than-thou assholes lying to me for the ease of their living.

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