Social Question

Cruiser's avatar

Japan's nuclear reactors have gone Chernobyl! Are you concerned?

Asked by Cruiser (40421points) April 12th, 2011

“Japanese nuclear regulators said they raised the rating from 5 to 7 – the highest level on an international scale of nuclear accidents overseen by the International Atomic Energy Agency – after new assessments of radiation leaks from the Fukushima Dai-ichi plant since it was disabled by the March 11 tsunami.”

Will this incident affect how you think and feel about nuclear power? Do you trust the NRC to keep our plants safe? Are you for or against nuclear energy?

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31 Answers

marinelife's avatar

I feel the same way about nuclear power that I did before this accident: It is too dangerous for humans to use safely. The consequences of accidents are too dire.

Cruiser's avatar

Here is what we can look forward to over the next 25 years….If even a fraction of what happened after Chernobyl is legit…many sad sorrowful years to come.

SpatzieLover's avatar

I’ve been concerned since before Japan. Now I’m on alert. I still haven’t heard enough from the US gov’t about we will be protected should the same type of disaster occur in our country.

Cruiser's avatar

@SpatzieLover Do you really need the Government, FEMA or the NRC to tell you how royally screwed you would be if and when??

SpatzieLover's avatar

@Cruiser no, I’d like to know how they will handle things, not tell me how screwed we are. I think waiting for a disaster to happen then hoping something like helicopters with water might work is insanity

Cruiser's avatar

@SpatzieLover I am most skeptical on our ability to mitigate this type of disaster. Look at the lip service Japan gave their own people and frankly the world. Why would you think we could do any better?

I sit withing the 50 mile radius of not one but THREE reactors here in Illinois and down wind from a 4th 150 miles away. I am so toast if and when.

SpatzieLover's avatar

I don’t think we can do better. However, I do think we could attempt developing plans should the need arises.

If I were you, I’d look into moving to Montana. ;)

Simone_De_Beauvoir's avatar

Of course I’m concerned. I was always concerned. I agree with @marinelife .

CaptainHarley's avatar

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again… the downside risk of nuclear is far too high.

Qingu's avatar

Despite the number, it doesn’t appear that Fukushima is nearly as bad as Chernobyl:

http://arstechnica.com/science/news/2011/04/japan-ups-the-fukushima-event-to-same-level-as-chernobyl.ars

I agree with the article that a single number on a scale isn’t enough to describe what happens in these kinds of disasters. It’s better to just describe the details, even if that requires some technical knowledge.

jerv's avatar

This hasn’t changed my opinion. I trust nuclear power but not the people who run it.

Cruiser's avatar

@Qingu I am not overly optimistic as there is growing evidence they have underestimated the problem on hand from the outset. An ocean full of radioactive waste water is totally impossible to quantify or predict the long term impact sending radioactive isotopes all throughout our oceans. IMHO this is beyond a Chernobyl…I can only hope your opinion and the ARS writer is right.

Qingu's avatar

@Cruiser, radioisotopes in the oceans will only affect areas near where they enter (i.e. on the coast of Japan). The rest will be safely diluted.

Remember all the nuclear weapons testing we did in the oceans before the test ban treaty?

And this isn’t a matter of “opinion.” We know how radioisotopes work and we know how the ocean dilutes them. What we didn’t know, at first, was the extent to which they were leaking from the reactors. Now we do.

flutherother's avatar

This incident hasn’t changed how I feel about nuclear power, it terrifies me. I have always been against it because nothing is failsafe and the consequences of a nuclear accident are so horrendous.

jerv's avatar

@Cruiser Which isotopes matters quite a bit. An isotope with a short half-life isn’t as big a deal as scientifically illiterate people think. It makes for good media ratings though…

koanhead's avatar

Like it or not, nuclear power is not going to go away. Incidents such as Chernobyl and Fukushima are terrible, but there isn’t currently any way to get electricity without some risk. Nearly all technologies offer some danger. Automobiles, for example, kill more people in a year than nuclear plants have in history.
Any time human beings are in charge of large amounts of energy (or even mediocre amounts of energy in a small space) there is danger of accident or misuse. This will continue to be the case until humans as a species “grow up” (don’t hold your breath) or we invent some type of organizational structure that prevents accidents or misuse. There have been many attempts at the latter throughout history; maybe some day we will find one that works.
In the meantime, we are stuck with the hazards of our various fantastically dangerous technologies, like it or not.

Cruiser's avatar

@Qingu and @jerv if that was the case the Bikini Atolls would be a beach front resort. It is though a top 5 dive destination.

filmfann's avatar

I watched a video of one of the reactors a few weeks ago, and Those In Power said it was just a hydrogen explosion. No, it wasn’t. I knew that immediately. I knew They were lying to us, and since then, I knew not to trust them, and fear the worst.
So, am I more concerned? Nope. I’ve been at level 7 for weeks.

Cruiser's avatar

@filmfann I have been thinking the same since day one

jerv's avatar

@filmfann Actually, it probably was a hydrogen explosion; they merely understated the resultant damage. Then again, I think it safe to say that (like many here) you have been at level 7 since we first started splitting atoms.

@Cruiser Regardless of actual science, the fact that nuclear weapons were ever detonated there keeps many people away. You seem to overlook the effects of psychology and the odd ways in which us hairless apes act.
If you follow politics at all—(and I know you do)—then you should know by now that people are moved more by emotions, sensationalism, and blind trust than by empirical facts, rational thought, or sound logic.

filmfann's avatar

@jerv I beat my demons about nuclear energy and nuclear weapons years ago. I still firmly believe nuclear power is the future.
That blast had different earmarks. I knew that immediately. A few days later, when another blast happened, I pointed out how that actually was a hydrogen explosion.

jerv's avatar

@filmfann Maybe I misread?

Cruiser's avatar

No @jerv I follow simple facts and the “experts” are telling the natives what they want to hear and that is a total scrape removal of 15” of the top soil will make everything OK….But WAIT!!! These same experts say maybe blanketing the island with Potassium Iodide instead will confuse plants to just uptake “safe” minerals isotopes instead of the radioactive ones. Such reassurance buy our “experts” is overwhelming!! Home sweet home Bikinians!!

jerv's avatar

@Cruiser Normally I do too, but I am also rather susceptible to reverse psychology in that if I hear a lot of people saying something, I am likely to believe the opposite, at least until I have the time and inclination to see for myself. That is doubly true when I hear things I know for a fact are inaccurate/false. That said, those specific solutions sound so half-baked especially when compared to what I know that I would almost side with the anti-nuke crowd.

Regardless, the truth of anything is often in between the extremes; in this case, between the understating authorities and the people who freak out about radioactivity in glow-in-the-dark stickers. But with a lack of honesty and openness on one side and a lack of comprehension on the other, it’s hard to know who to believe. So I don’t believe anyone!

mattbrowne's avatar

In addition to what @marinelife said, I’d argue that the nuclear industry seems to be run by a far higher number of corrupt and reckless people compared to the green technology industry. A very good example is Japanese Tepco. Profits are more important than safety. Recklessness is the norm.

I recently watch a documentation on the Hanford Site in Washington. It was absolutely shocking. It’s all about profits, not safety. Anyone who raises the slightest safety concern gets fired and ostracized by the community of Hanford. There’s even a souvenir shop giving the impression that artificial radioactivity is something very cool. The high school’s sports teams is called the “Bombers” as if this were very cool too. This kind of mindset is scary, to say the least.

Qingu's avatar

@Cruiser, Bikini Atoll is a wasteland; I expect the area around Fukushima will be a wasteland for some time as well. But—the tests at Bikini Atoll did not ruin the world’s oceans with radioactive material. That stuff is only harmful in a localized area. Nature has a great capacity to disperse it.

I’m not saying Fukushima isn’t a disaster, or that we shouldn’t rethink nuclear energy because of it. But we need to keep the disaster in perspective and base our understanding on scientific facts.

Cruiser's avatar

@Qingu I completely agree with you but the science of nuclear and radioactive disaster aftermaths is new science and murky at best. We are just starting to fathom let alone truly understand the repercussions and ramifications of these events. A low reading on a Geiger counter does not mean all is well. Read up on Chernobyl and all around eastern Europe birthrates are still dropping, life expectancies are still dropping and birth defects and rare cancer rates are still climbing as a direct result of something 25 years ago. I say we just don’t know and don’t if there is much we can really do about it either.

Qingu's avatar

It’s not new science, it’s actually very well understood science, and we know why that’s going on in Chernobyl.

flutherother's avatar

There is some fascinating footage here of the immediate aftermath of the disaster at Chernobyl shot by the Russian film maker Vladimir Shevchenko. The cameras that filmed this were so radioactive that they had to be buried and Shevchenko himself died shortly afterwards from the effects of radiation.

Garebo's avatar

I find it very interesting the main stream media is hardly talking about it now. That to me is a big concern, and after the local media is saying they are now finding indications of low level radiation in the water supply. Great opportunity for the authorities to indirectly admit their malfeasance of nuclear fallout for decades from a reactor 35 miles a way.
Secondly, have we forgot about the thousands of people that lost their lives and massive devastation, but nobody seems to care, at least that’s my impression.
Maybe, it’s because they are a wealthy nation and they can take care of themselves.
This same thing could happen tomorrow on the west coast with an earthquake, and I doubt we would be all that much better off.

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