Nuclear power once had so much promise. We were assured that nuclear reactors would provide cheap, abundant, safe, and clean energy. And for the most part, that promise was delivered. Nuclear power is still one of the most effective forms of energy production.
But over the years a glaring weakness has emerged with this technology. When it’s implemented correctly, with extreme prudence and respect, it works wonderfully. However, on the rare occasion that a government or a company doesn’t take all of the necessary precautions, the ramifications are immense. Even if every precaution is taken, and the risk of a nuclear meltdown is slight, you’re still talking about a disaster that can utterly destroy a civilization (here’s what you should do to prepare yourself for that kind of disaster).
Take Fukushima for instance. Last year former prime minister Naoto Kan revealed that the TEPCO power plant meltdown could have been far worse. If the situation hadn’t been brought under control, he would have had to order the evacuate 50 million people, or about 40% of the population of Japan. He told the Telegraph that “The future existence of Japan as a whole was at stake. Something on that scale, an evacuation of 50 million, it would have been like a losing a huge war.”
Of course, Japan isn’t the only country that could face that kind of disaster in the future. The United States is filled with nuclear reactors that could be at risk. In fact, according to a recent report from Natural News, there are dozens of nuclear power plants in the US that lie within earthquake zones.
A new interactive chart created by the Union of Concerned Scientists, which is really a database of U.S. nuclear reactors and safety issues associated with them, shows a higher-than-average concentration of nuclear plants along the nation’s East Coast that are at risk of being damaged or destroyed by an earthquake.
They include: St. Lucie Units 1 & 2 at Hutchison Island, Fla.; North Anna Units 1, 2 & 3 at Mineral, Va.; Peach Bottom Units 1, 2 & 3, Delta, Pennsylvania; Limerick Units 1 & 2, Pottstown, Pa., Indian Point Units 1, 2 & 3, Buchanan, N.Y., and Seabrook Unit 1, Seabrook, New Hampshire.
Further inland, there are other nuclear plants at risk, though they are not as concentrated as those on the East Coast, and many have only a single nuclear reactor. They include plants in Tennessee, Louisiana, Florida, Alabama, South Carolina, Illinois, Iowa, Ohio, and Kansas.
More to the point, these are nuclear reactors that “face a level of seismic risk that’s greater than what they’re currently equipped to withstand,” according to the Union of Concerned Scientists.
For years, government officials have been telling us that these plants are perfectly capable of withstanding natural disasters. However, that’s pretty much exactly what TEPCO and the Japanese government told their citizens, right up until the Fukushima power plant nearly destroyed their country.
With that in mind, we should be asking ourselves a very important question. Is the benefit of clean energy really a good trade-off for the risk of annihilation?