Tuesday, March 15, 2011

there will be no significant leak, there will be no "bomb"

The following is from IBD, and for those of a scientific mind, reinforces the importance of understanding science and speaking truthfully. 

To be clear, their were 1000 cases of Leukemia in the area around Chernobyl, 2 resulting in fatalities.  There were no effects from three mile island.  There is no risk of the release of a large amount of radiation.  This is all just alarmist environmental rhetoric.


Nuclear Future: Quake-damaged reactors have spawned disaster-movie-scale scenarios. But once again the hype may exceed the reality, and the danger from nukes may be dwarfed by the dangers of doing without.

Consider that the earthquake that devastated Japan moved the main island eight feet and shifted our entire planet on its axis by four inches. The energy released by the quake, now measured at 9.0 on the Richter scale, is equivalent to about 336 megatons of TNT. The death toll is in the thousands and may rise into the tens of thousands in a nation that resembles the devastated Japan of 1945.

The quake was bad enough, yet most of the media's focus is on the crippled Japanese nuclear power plants, where no one has been killed, radiation leakage has been minimal and no breach of the containment buildings has yet been reported.

We do not minimize the danger that remains. We simply want to put it in context as the media breathlessly ponder another Chernobyl.

Ironically, the 25th anniversary of the Chernobyl disaster in the Ukraine, caused by a combination of Russian incompetence and shoddy technology, will be upon us in a few weeks. Yet Japan's personnel and technology have functioned quite well, considering this natural disaster of planetary magnitude.

The Chernobyl plant had no containment structure and was of a design that used graphite instead of water to moderate neutron radiation. The graphite caught fire and burned for four days. With a containment structure, the fire would have been snuffed out and radiation would not have escaped.

Despite the second hydrogen gas explosion in three days at Fukushima Dai-ichi nuclear plant's Unit 3 in Okumamachi and exposed fuel rods at another reactor, Japanese authorities are using seawater to cool down the reactors. Failing that, sand and cement may be poured in to entomb the reactor core.

According to Ron Ballinger, professor of nuclear science at MIT, radiation spiked at about 100 millirems at Fukushima No. 3 before the first explosion. By comparison, you get about 35 millirems on a trans-Atlantic flight. A resident of mile-high Denver gets about 50 millirems a year.

After Hiroshima and Nagasaki, the Japanese had as much reason to loathe nuclear power as anybody. Yet they built their reactors because they and their economy needed the energy. And, as proved over and over, wealthier societies are healthier societies. Nuclear power has increased Japan's standard of living and lowered its fossil-fuel pollution.

Japan is the world's third-largest nuclear power user. Its has 53 reactors that provide 34.5% of its electricity, and there were plans to increase that to 50% by 2030.

The U.S. hasn't built a new plant since 1979, yet nuclear power safely provides about 20% of our electricity, replacing huge amounts of those greenhouse gases environmentalists love to hate.

Experts have spent three decades trying to find any harmful effects from steam released at Three Mile Island in 1979 and have come up empty. Yet the incident doomed the U.S. nuclear power industry,and the Japanese quake may doom its renaissance.

Entire villages have been swept away by the quake, yet we have the likes of Rep. Ed Markey, D-Mass. — who tried to kill our economy with his cap-and-trade bill — making the most of this tragedy. Markey is warning of "another Chernobyl" and saying that "the same thing could happen here." Both statements are nonsense.
Markey wants to halt all nuclear plans and suspend the license of the only reactor we've been building — a Tennessee Valley authority plant at Watts Bar. Proposals for 20 other reactors to be built over the next two decades are at various points in the regulatory pipeline.  Sen. Joe Lieberman, I-Conn., said on CBS' "Face the Nation" on Sunday that we should "put the brakes on right now until we understand the ramifications of what's happened in Japan."
We've had the brakes on for 30 years, Joe, depriving our nation and economy of job-creating and, yes, environmentally friendly energy independence.  Despite a once-in-a-century event in Japan, it's time to put our foot on the accelerator and realize, as someone once put it, that the only thing we have to fear is fear itself.

1 comment:

Baxter said...

New nuclear energy plants are a non-starter on so many levels:

1. Where do we store the waste for 6,000 years? Isn't it irresponsible to create something that needs protecting that length of time? How many nations have lasted that long? Fundamentalist Christians don't think the planet is even that old.

2. Do we want to create new terrorist targets? The plants and the fuel are very attractive to the bad guys.

3. New nuclear plants are not feasible without massive government subsidy. Financial markets won't invest without government guarantees protecting the downside. The taxpayers - not the investors - get to pay the tab in the event of catastrophe.

4. Taking the "nuclear route" internationally will lead to ever more Irans and North Koreas. If we are promoting nuclear power, why should 't they? hat is good for the goose is good for the gander.

5. American ingenuity and genius needs to be directed - through market forces - to design cost effective renewable energy sources and efficient conservation solutions. A revenue neutral CARBON TAX is just the ticket.

6. Bonus Comment: "High prices cure high prices" - if a gas tax of $1/gallon were added, you would not see that in the price for long. The very act of the tax would be bearish for oil markets. The oil exporters would ultimately be the largest "taxpayers" of a CARBON TAX. That said, a floor would be installed on the retail price, which would provide the necessary incentive for capital to flow to alternative energy and conservation/efficiency solutions.