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Is nuclear power safe?

dollarbill 2,392 554 March 12, 2011 at 02:05 AM
With all the radiation being released by the Japanese power plants . I thought I'd ask the question again. Considering we have Nukes built right on fault lines and in coastal areas here in the US .Here's a vid of the Fukushima reactor exploding
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=O1...r_embedded

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#2
Is nuclear power safe?

I was contemplating the same question last night after reading a report from Reuters stating Japan had hours to prevent a melt down. This morning we are greeted with news of an explosion at the Fukushima-Daiichi. It did not look like a controlled demolition to me - speculating hydrogen - oxygen explosion [youtube.com]... another facility cannot be cooled down.

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-a...c-12720219

Quote :
Japan's Prime Minister Naoto Kan declared a state of emergency at the Fukushima Daiichi and Daini (also known as Fukushima 1 and 2) power plants as engineers try to confirm whether a reactor at one of the stations has gone into meltdown.
No, it is not safe.

We need a new effort that dwarfs the Manhattan Project to find a viable alternative. (or perhaps we've been sitting on one all along?)
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Last edited by cruizerfish March 12, 2011 at 06:10 AM.
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#3
Japan has about 33 reactors, the US about 3x as many. The old estimate for safety was one major accident per 200 reactor*years, but I don't know what the minimum standard was for "major". Also it's been estimated that coal-fired power plants cause 5,000 excess deaths a year from radiation and expose the public to more radiation than nuclear reactors do, but the amount of radiation from coal plants averages just 1/2% more than normal (article [scientificamerican.com]). In comparison, alcoholism may cause 100,000 excess deaths.
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#4
Quote from larrymoencurly View Post :
Japan has about 33 reactors, the US about 3x as many. The old estimate for safety was one major accident per 200 reactor*years, but I don't know what the minimum standard was for "major". Also it's been estimated that coal-fired power plants cause 5,000 excess deaths a year from radiation and expose the public to more radiation than nuclear reactors do, but the amount of radiation from coal plants averages just 1/2% more than normal (article [scientificamerican.com]). In comparison, alcoholism may cause 100,000 excess deaths.
LMC has it -- it's a case of shock factor and headlines. Few people understand what happens in nuclear reactors. To them, the only thing nuclear are weapons.

OP -- when you pose your question, how would you like your answer? As something quantitative and objective, like accident numbers? Or just gut instinct reactions? After all, are cars safe? Cars kill thousands of people a year in the US alone.
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#5
I don't see why you build something that can destroy the world.

Are people that money hungry that they'll put ending the world at risk?


I Guess so.
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#6
Nuclear power is pretty safe. I would be more concerned with the amount of radiation Patients receive from unnecessary/repeat medical exams.
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Quote from larrymoencurly View Post :
Japan has about 33 reactors, the US about 3x as many. The old estimate for safety was one major accident per 200 reactor*years, but I don't know what the minimum standard was for "major". Also it's been estimated that coal-fired power plants cause 5,000 excess deaths a year from radiation and expose the public to more radiation than nuclear reactors do, but the amount of radiation from coal plants averages just 1/2% more than normal (article [scientificamerican.com]). In comparison, alcoholism may cause 100,000 excess deaths.
This. Nuclear power is safe as long as it's handled properly(of course that doesn't always happen). Like the nukes in the Navy always say, "You always hear people worried about nuclear power on the shore but never at the sea - why? Because they trust us, and we keep earning their trust"
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Quote from kilacam19 View Post :
Nuclear power is pretty safe. I would be more concerned with the amount of radiation Patients receive from unnecessary/repeat medical exams.

...or TSA scanners....
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#9
Quote from larrymoencurly View Post :
Japan has about 33 reactors, the US about 3x as many. The old estimate for safety was one major accident per 200 reactor*years, but I don't know what the minimum standard was for "major". Also it's been estimated that coal-fired power plants cause 5,000 excess deaths a year from radiation and expose the public to more radiation than nuclear reactors do, but the amount of radiation from coal plants averages just 1/2% more than normal (article [scientificamerican.com]). In comparison, alcoholism may cause 100,000 excess deaths.
And those figures for coal don't touch upon the dangers of non-radioactive coal waste. Coal power plants contribute to the deaths of hundreds of thousands of people every year, and that is just from normal operation.

BTW, I believe "major accident" in nuclear safety terms simply means core damage. It does not imply radiation released to the environment.

Quote from dollarbill View Post :
With all the radiation being released by the Japanese power plants . I thought I'd ask the question again. Considering we have Nukes built right on fault lines and in coastal areas here in the US .Here's a vid of the Fukushima reactor exploding
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=O1...r_embedded
The reactor did not explode. The containment building did, but the reactor vessel is still intact and functioning.

That aside, the problem with the question is that it wants to address nuclear power in a vacuum. The question shouldn't be "is nuclear power safe?" It should be, "is nuclear power safer than the alternatives?" The answer to the latter question, even after yesterday and today, is still yes. It is important to remember that despite all the attention the reactors are getting, it still has not caused any deaths and the radiation release has still been small.

The events have to be put into context, too. I have read that this was the sixth most powerful earthquake ever recorded. Are we going to base all our decisions on such a rare event, even though nobody has been killed by its effect on nuclear power?

If we are, then are we going to apply the same logic to other power sources? Are we going to stop using hydro power because a Japanese dam burst and washed away 1800 homes? Are we going to stop using natural gas because a natural gas facility near Tokyo exploded?
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#10
We learned another lesson this week. Backup power isn't reliable when the plant is near the coast in an earthquake zone. Keep them off the coast where tsunamis can take out the backup power.

We need to keep emotion out of the analysis.

Nuclear power is a valuable source of energy.
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#11
Nuclear power is not "safe". I predict this Japan thing will be used by anti-nuclear power crowd to undermine nuclear reactors.

Smilie
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Quote from Candide View Post :
We learned another lesson this week. Backup power isn't reliable when the plant is near the coast in an earthquake zone. Keep them off the coast where tsunamis can take out the backup power.

We need to keep emotion out of the analysis.

Nuclear power is a valuable source of energy.
That is something that will certainly be a point of focus for the next few years. It would not surprise me if the NRC increased backup requirements at reactors in seismic areas (or maybe even all reactors).

It will certainly factor into the licensing of plants, both existing and future, that are located in seismically active areas.
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#13
Given where we're at right now with nuclear power construction in America, this is almost surely the nail in the coffin, whether we like it or not. No-one is going to accept living within a ten mile radius of a nuclear plant.

I think we're kidding ourselves if we try to think that nuclear is going to be politically viable going forward. It's simply not going to happen.
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Quote from kilacam19 View Post :
Nuclear power is pretty safe. I would be more concerned with the amount of radiation Patients receive from unnecessary/repeat medical exams.
Nuclear power is VERY safe....as long as nothing goes wrong. But the level of catastrophe if something DOES go wrong is not worth the risk IMO, because however rare it is, it does happen and more of them will obviously increase the risk.
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#15
Well on the bright side, Japanese can gets a free body scan courtesy ....nod

TSA and Homeland Security must be so wet at such a idea..


No nuclear is NOT safe....

Unless you can prepare for the unpredictable, how can it be safe...

Today was the unpredictable and look how well that turned out....

Safe is a opinion to be taken highly lightly by the nuclear thumpers.... Obviously they can build a nuclear plant but yet can't even have tech to predict when a earthquake is coming...Wink

Well maybe if the 2nd and 3rd core fail, Godzilla will wake up and come to soak up all the released fallout.. ( as seen in a Godzilla movie )Wink
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