Monday, May 30, 2011

Fukushima Nuclear Power Plant Disaster: The Death Knell for Commercial Nuclear Power?

Despite of having been compared to the Chernobyl nuclear disaster even though the spread of radioactivity is still localized does the Fukushima nuclear power plant disaster the death knell of commercial nuclear fission power generation?

By: Ringo Bones

As one of the most famous casualties of the March 11, 2011 earthquake and tsunami that hit the north-eastern part of Japan, the Fukushima nuclear power plant disaster got a Level-7 Rating comparable to that of the April 26, 1986 Chernobyl nuclear power plant disaster, even though the spread of most of the radioactive debris due to the meltdown was confined to the immediate area of the Fukushima plant. Sadly the people and the press at large have perceived it as the death knell for commercial nuclear power generation.

The oft cited reason for the renewed anti-nuclear power activism raised by the Fukushima nuclear disaster is that if it happened in a technologically advanced and rich country like Japan with a culture that holds discipline and dedication to one’s job with such a high esteem that a much worse nuclear disaster could happen anywhere. But is this sound reasoning, or is it rather based on politics – make that the politics of ignorance - rather than the science of nuclear fission power generation? Well, all of this reminds me of what Isaac Asimov once said about “new” problems created by technology – he says: “If technology is the root cause of our current problems, then, it is not through ignorance that we can solve them.”

Sadly, a much bigger problem is looming – i.e. the accelerating greenhouse effect in our atmosphere caused by our inconvenient failure to wean ourselves out of fossil fuel based power generation that could create much stronger storms, longer droughts, higher than average temperatures and raise sea levels before the end of the 21st Century. Commercial nuclear fission power generation has always been touted – and it is the only commercially and technologically viable one we have – of a carbon dioxide and greenhouse gases free power generation. Before solar, wind and other carbon-free alternative / renewable energy power generation schemes can fully replace coal and even nuclear fission power plants, nuclear fission power generation is - unfortunately – here to stay.

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