Tanay Gahlot

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The Japanese Fallout:Is Nuclear Power Dead?

The recent earthquake and tsunami in Japan has brought Nuclear Safety to the forefront again. In the Fukushima Daiichi plant, three explosions occurred, which have caused alarm that the reactors may release radioactive emissions into the atmosphere.

The danger now is of a complete meltdown and a breach of the containment vessels. The Japanese government has admitted this is a possibility and evacuations around the plants are on.

• The plant shut down as expected, on recognizing the quake. Diesel generators came on to run the cooling system.
• The tsunami carried away the DG fuel oil tanks.
• The valve control equipment and switchgear was damaged by the tsunami.
• Now there was no power, no back up (diesel fuel tanks were gone) and no control system to feed emergency water or coolant.
• That built up pressure inside the reactor — which should usually be let out. But, to avoid releasing the radioactive vapours for as long as possible, the pressure built up to twice what the structure was designed for

The future of nuclear power seems to ride on what happens now in Japan. If there is success is curtailing further damage, all of this will be forgotten in a year. If things get worse, and it turns out the plants have had the highest safety procedures, forget about nuclear technology for the next decade. (But that's a small side-effect — the biggest concern is for the millions of people living nearby.) I expect the debate to get stronger.

  • Mar 21 2011: I do not think that such a catastrophe will be forgotten so easily. What happened was a major setback for nuclear energy, but I think that as with all things, innovation in the nuclear energy field will arise because of this setback.

    One of my thoughts regarding the earthquake is that nuclear reactors should be kept tethered, suspended on bodies of water, preferably those with little chance of great disturbance- like lakes. And containment measures should be put in place in case something does go awry, like we saw in Japan. Why not modify the design of the structure housing the reactor with containment in mind? I'm no nuclear scientist, I'm no architect, so this is probably the case with nuclear reactors already, but they sure did a shit job of planning for the worst case scenario.
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    Mar 20 2011: if anything I believe that we should take this natural disaster as an eye opener for how we should improve our nuclear power, to change and progress! I think the japanese society as a whole shows us what real motivation and strength is, they protect their own, create and continually working on their problems till the most critical point while still providing a booming economy for their people. I believe that all over the world scientists and engineers should be looking for solutions and ways to take this disaster around and create an innovative solution, a positive out of a negative, if it comes to complete meltdown.