Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Everything It Touches

How does one contain a failing nuclear reactor? This is a question I have been pondering. The word "contain" means to hold or keep within limits; restrain. But here's the problem with nuclear energy and radiation: everything used to shore up the problem becomes contaminated itself.

The Japanese have learned this lesson through their use of sea water to try to cool the fuel rods. All the water they pumped in is now contaminated too. So, not only do they need to worry about the reactors themselves, but now they face an additional dilemma of what to do with the contaminated water!

In my view, this is why containing a nuclear accident becomes very troublesome. Whatever tool or material is utilized to halt the process becomes part of an ever growing problem. So, rather than limiting the situation, it actually increases it.

This is one of the prime reasons I have always opposed nuclear energy. The byproducts of nuclear fission are just as dangerous, if not more so, than the process itself. Every kilowatt of energy generated concurrently produces dangerous toxins that remain highly toxic to biological organisms for tens or hundreds of thousands of years. In a manner of speaking, it's a gift that keeps on giving!

For all the study and research involving nuclear energy, no one yet has figured out how to safely store the toxic byproducts. Here, in Washington State, they have buried these poisons in cement tombs at the Hanford Nuclear Reservation. We were told both by our government and GE (the folks that run it) that this process was safe and posed no threat to anyone.

People believed them...until some watchdog group noted that the toxins were leeching out of their tombs into groundwater. It seems that the monitoring devices had malfunctioned and no one from GE or the government had bothered to mention this. This singular problem in one location hasn't been fixed, though we're told that the issue is being studied.

To me, this crazy experiment with nuclear energy is like placing a lit stick of TNT in the middle of an urban area and acting as if it won't detonate. The Japanese people -- and, maybe, the rest of us too -- are now paying for this irrational calculation.


  1. What forms of energy do you think are better?

    (This is not a leading question - I'm trying to puzzle it out myself! :) )

  2. Fusion. Solar.
    (And the conservation of it.)

  3. Solar, wind and geothermal energy are renewable sources.

  4. Wind and geothermal and ocean energy are serious local options here in the islands, but you would be surprised at the controversy surrounding the implementation, from the "eyesore" of the wind turbines (I think they are rather beautiful) to the disturbance of Madame Pele, the Volcano Goddess.


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