Unfortunately I do think there is a lesson to be learned from this incident, simply that building nuclear power plants in areas that are susceptible
to the threat of severe natural disasters is very unwise. I had no idea that there are several such plants in the far western states of the US; makes
me wonder what will happen when the Big One strikes California. Part of the problem is that quakes with a magnitude greater than 9 are very, very
rare (thankfully) but they do happen. So most structures simply aren't built (even in heavy seismic zones) to withstand such a powerful quake.
That's enough power to topple even buildings that are supposedly "earthquake proof". Or, sort of like building something to withstand a category 3
hurricane and then you get a category 5.
Granted, the problem in Japan was caused by the tsunami more so than the earthquakes themselves, but again, building anything right on the coast in an
area with a long history of such disasters is asking for trouble. But, I guess that 35 or 40 years ago people just didn't think to expect the
The other problem is of course the clean up. I just found this three
- I had no idea that it took twelve years to clean up Three Mile Island - and that was just one reactor and not as bad an accident!
Unfortunately it will take them a very, very long time to clean it up (unless of course they have to resort to burying it like Chernobyl).
The other bad thing is that this will also roll things back on nuclear power for a long time. We can't do coal for obvious reasons (even though we
still do), we can't do oil because of BP's oil leak (and we still do that too, and sit around and talk about how bad it is and like coal, try to
regulate it into extinction), now we can't do nuclear (at least not any new plants here in the US) because of the Japan incident.
We can do wind (but only where there's lots of wind, where there's enough land, where there are no people around to complain about the noise, the
view, birds and bats being killed, etc, etc, etc), and we can do solar (only where there's lots of sunshine, lots of land, few people around so
nobody complains about it being an eyesore), though I suppose at least we can put a bunch of those last two things in the backyards of hippies, yeah,
right, they don't want that stuff to spoil their view anymore than anyone else does. That's the problem with energy - either it's dangerous (to
workers, or those that live around it), it's dirty, it's inadequate and inefficient, or it's simply an eyesore that no one wants in their backyard,
so to speak - or a combination of those. We all want electricity but no one wants to see windmills on the hill behind their property or see a nuclear
cooling tower from where they live.
I think the best bets will probably be nuclear fusion (very different from nuclear fission, which is what goes on in a nuclear reactor) if they can
ever get it to work and put out more energy than is put into it (which currently isn't the case), and ocean turbines. Two things that pose virtually
no danger (though ocean turbines would have to be designed to not interfere with sea life), are clean and no one has to worry about either spoiling
the view from their backyard.