The Japan syndrome: http://bit.ly/dIIubw約2時間前 webからあなたがリツイート
- Sierra Club Chairman
March 14, 2011
The Japan Syndrome
San Francisco -- On Sunday morning I got an email from a friend who works for a municipal utility -- I was expecting documentation on now to design incentives for utilities to help their customers save money instead of wasting electrons and carbon. So I was shocked when I opened it and discovered an early alert that the nuclear problems in Japan were much worse than being reported at that time, and that my friend was certain the reactor had already melted down.
He had started his career at the Brown's Ferry TVA nuclear power plant -- and he told me that the Fukushima reactors were twins of Brown's Ferry and that, based on his knowledge of the plants, the initial description of the problems was not plausible. Only a meltdown, perhaps partial, perhaps complete, could explain the damage being reported. And the reported injection of seawater, he said, required a breach in the containment vessel, and meant serious long-term releases of radiation. He also reported that if really bad radiation released occurred, the plume could travel across the Pacific and hit the West Coast with dangerous levels of radiation in a week to ten days. We now know that my friend was right -- there has been a partial meltdown at Fukushima, the seawater emergency fix does mean that there will be large, long-term releases of radiation, and this morning we have just learned that the fuel rods at one reactor have been exposed to air again, making a complete meltdown once again possible.
"But really, the big issue is not whether the next U.S. nuclear disaster will look just like Japan's. Japan's did not look like Chernobyl, nor did Chernobyl look like Three Mile Island. Brown's Ferry almost melted down because of an accident with a candle! They all had one thing in common -- something went wrong, and the cooling systems in the reactors failed. Every nuclear power plant in the world, and every plant currently under construction, shares that vulnerability. Exactly what goes wrong -- what takes down the cooling system -- is unpredictable. It won't happen the same way twice. That's not reassuring -- it's terrifying.
My friend who had started his career at Brown's Ferry closed his second email to me saying that he hoped he was wrong. He wasn't, and his email shows why we shouldn't listen to experts who tell us "it can't happen here." My friend pointed out that "total loss of AC power, which they had, coupled with an earthquake and a tsunami is not a design basis that many plant owners or operators contemplate." He's right. That's the problem with nuclear technology. There are too many "worst-case" scenarios to include them all in a design basis or an operating plan. How many different forms could a terrorist attack take? And how many of those are adequately taken into account in the design of nuclear reactors? (Answer: very few.)
The problem with building nuclear power plants is not that they are likely to have an accident -- they aren't. In that sense, they're relatively safe. But the magnitude and consequences of even a single such accident are simply too large to warrant even a small risk. Several hundred miles of Japan's coastline were totally devastated by the tsunami. But the big worry facing the country, and the world, today is confined to two tiny sections of that devastation -- the nuclear power plants."