Monday, March 21, 2011

To nuclear, or not to nuclear?

After the recent natural disaster in Japan that triggered one of the biggest nuclear disasters in history, everyone is questioning whether or not nuclear power is safe.  Germany closed it's nuclear power plants just in case.  France said it was ridiculous to shut down anything just because of this one disaster.  And people here in the United States are just confused.

I've always been hesitant to support this growing trend, even though Europe seems to be pretty dependent on this type of power and is very proud of not having to rely on foreign oil.  But I can't help but think back to Chernobyl and Three Mile Island.  Although I was too young at the time to really understand what happened, it stuck in my mind as being a very bad thing that no one ever wanted to repeat again.

From what I understand, Three Mile Island was caused by human error.  The incidents in Japan were triggered by the tsunami.  I'm still not clear on what exactly is happening except that there are meltdowns occurring with lots of radiation being released.  They've evacuated up to 20 miles surrounding these power plants and lots of people are just leaving the country.  Radiation levels are high even in Tokyo, which is 180 miles away.

It doesn't help that the Japanese government is saying this is a lethal and toxic situation, while the nuclear power company is saying it's just fine.  What are the citizens supposed to do and who are they supposed to trust?

The other lingering question is if the radiation cloud will be carried over to the US atmosphere.  Scientists keep saying "no", but who really knows.  The most important question, however, is
"Is nuclear power really safe?"

Sure, we want to be off of foreign oil and find new ways to feed the energy addiction this country has, but I don't think that's the answer.  Also, disposing of the nuclear waste has always been an environmental concern. With these disasters happening around the world, however many years in between each incident, these are major things to consider.  In my honest opinion, it's too risky, and there are far better, less environmentally-damaging ways to bring us electricity.

We DO need to get off foreign oil, but why not try CONSERVING.  We don't need every TV on in the house all day long.  We don't need to have the AC/Heat on if it's 70 degrees outside.   We DON'T need to IDLE our cars (because of the pollution, the noise, the waste, and the cost).  There are ways to not have to use so much fuel/energy in one day.  RENEWABLE ENERGY is another solution, nuclear is NOT.

I'm no expert, but that's my 2 cents.

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