Honestly, I am not sure I agree with that statement. I suppose it depends on how you would term “catastrophic.” If you happen to consider an area of land not being used for a very long period of time something less than catastrophic, then you may like what physorg.com is reporting.
“The worst thing that could happen now is the fuel rods could be exposed to the air and that could be, then, down to our last barrier,” Downar said. “We could not have a recriticality, or a nuclear explosion. It’s physically impossible in this kind of system.”
Lee and Downar are among the professors in the No. 1-ranked U-M Department of Nuclear Engineering and Radiological Sciences who are studying the technical issues involved in the emergency situation in Japan.
While the researchers understand that the situation is serious, they stress that a “meltdown” does not necessarily mean a major release of harmful radiation, and that the situation, while dire, is still more a kin to Three Mile Island than Chernobyl. A Chernobyl type of explosion is impossible in these plants, Lee said.
According to the same article, most of us would only be exposed to about the dosage of two additional chest X-rays. It also notes that is about all the dosage received by the workers at Three Mile Island.
Maybe it is good news. I don’t know. While I agree with the fact that nuclear power is relatively safe, I am more concerned with the fact that it was okay to engineer a nuclear plant that can only withstand a magnitude 7 quake. Given mankind’s track record with foresight — levee walls around New Orleans, for example — these type of disasters are not a matter of if, they are just a matter of when. Maybe the better news is that this event has caused many to question the use of nuclear power?
I do not think nuclear power is a wise long term option for humankind. Waste with a half life of thousands of years is not a very good by product for a long term solution. I don’t care what the “experts” or leaders say. Remember Three Mile Island and how much we learned from it and how it would prevent such things in the future? So now these experts are comparing the reactors in Japan to it, except they describe it in a worse state? How much did we learn? It certainly proves that 8.9 is larger than 7.
Three Mile Island clean up, according to Wikipedia, cost 975 Million… is that included in the equations that calculate how cost efficient nuclear power is? There were two reactors at Three Mile Island, in better shape than those in Japan. I wonder how much this one is going to cost to be cost efficiently closed?
Put wind turbines up along Pennsylvania Avenue. let the lobbyists and leaders debate how good nuclear power is and we will have all the wind we need.