Without Clean Energy Production, Nuclear Reactors Will Fill the Void.
As the United States government continues to support the nuclear power industry, the recent disaster in Japan shows once again that nuclear power is not a safe, long-term energy producer.
Regardless of the precautionary steps taken in designing nuclear reactors and the disposal and storage facilities for nuclear waste, human engineering is not capable of designing structures that withstand every type and degree of natural or manmade disaster.
Nuclear power is a cheap source of energy production as long as communities do not factor in the long-term costs of storing lethal materials for generations and the cleanup of the eventual spill from the reactor itself or leakage from the waste containers.
According to CBS News, there are 104 nuclear reactors across the U.S. with 20 more working their way through the permitting process. Southern California Edison stated that they designed California's San Onofre’s reactor to exceed the maximum threat of a 6.6 magnitude earthquake. Their reactor is designed to withstand a 7.0 quake and a 25 foot tsunami and sits on the California coast.
The earthquake that hit Japan and caused the ensuing tsunami is now recorded as 9.0. According to the Wall Street Journal, the Japanese reactor was engineered to handle an earthquake with a magnitude of 7.9.
Nuclear power is needed in a country that is still the top consumer of energy per capita in the world. Nuclear energy should be used as a bridge to reach mass production of energy by clean alternatives. This will require the U.S. government to put in place long-term policies that support solar, wind, geothermal and other green industries.
The alternative to ‘green energy production’ is a country dotted with nuclear reactors engineered to withstand the threats we see and vulnerable to the ones we do not.