Build More Nuke Plants

by

Watching disaster upon disaster unfold in Japan, one disaster I am not particularly worried about is the nuclear power plants that are exploding. As someone who earned a BS in Physics, I am not too concerned about nuclear power or the effects of what happens when things go wrong.

AS evidence, consider the plight of the crew of the USS Ronald Reagan, which sat downwind of the nuclear reactor whose core is now exposed to atmosphere. The report I read said that members of the crew received about a month’s dose of radiation in a day. That sounds bad, until you consider that they received radiation equivalent to living 30 days longer than they otherwise would.

Is another Chernobyl possible? Not with Japan’s reactors. If everything goes wrong all at once, like they just did, then you have some very minor radiation which will clear up in a matter of days, combined with a reactor that is never going to come back online. There may be a clean up or they may just encase the core in cement and leave it where it is, never to be touched ever again.

Newer reactors cannot suffer the same failures that these reactors, built in the ’70s, suffer from. In fact, why hasn’t Japan and the US and other first world countries rebuilt their nuclear power structure with these more reliable models? Simply put, because American politicians have put the brakes on all nuclear research and development. Our luddite natures have gotten the better of us, and we are stuck in the 70’s when it comes to nuclear power.

If the American economy did what sane people would do, we would have long ago left behind oil and coal power plants, which are far more dangerous and dirty than the nuclear reactor disaster is in Japan, and gone with advanced nuclear power plants. Energy would be cheap and plentiful. Electric cars would actually make sense, because power would be cheaper than oil. The air around us would be all but perfectly clean, the rivers and lakes completely free from almost all contaminants, and we would be living in a Star Trek-style utopia.

The so-called nuclear waste problem is no problem at all. To start with, with just a little bit of research, we turned the spent fuel rods into new fuel rods that use a different kind of reactor to create power. With a little more research, we can extract power from the nuclear waste we have until it is all but inert. That’s why, as a country, we have always talked about “storing” nuclear waste. Nuclear waste is just as valuable, and in some cases, more valuable than the original product. As long as it radiates, we can use it to power our economy.

In the aftermath of the Japanese nuclear disaster, there will be no deaths. The worst people will probably suffer from radiation equivalent to a few years of normal life, at worst. Thirty years from now, there may be a very slight uptick in cancer rates among people present during the disaster, but something so small it will be all but undetectable. If the worst disaster in American nuclear history is this, then our record will remain all but perfect.

We do not own any nuclear reactors that could do what Chernobyl did, and we never have. If you asked any nuclear engineer about Chernobyl, they would readily tell you that they chose the worst possible design and had put it all together in the worst way possible. Additionally, they made it so that a few failures in a few different systems could lead to total disaster.

One day, we are going to have nuclear power plants that we bury in our backyards. Overhead transmission lines will be a thing of the past. Everyone will own a limitless supply of completely safe and harmless power.

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