18 March 2011

Disaster

All week, I’ve been turning over disaster in my head. Here’s the thing: natural disasters are just that. They’re natural. You can try and anticipate them, build to ameliorate them, insure against them. But they’re going to happen and it’s no one’s fault when they do. You clean up the mess, mourn the dead, feed the hungry and shelter the homeless. Japan could recover from the one-two punch of the earthquake and tsunami. But the nuclear power plant problem? The one that gets scarier and more unmanageable by the day? It’s a man-made disaster that didn’t have to happen.

Three years ago, when we officially enrolled the girl in kindergarten, we had to sign a blanket permission slip to allow the school to administer potassium iodide in the case of an “event” at the nuclear plant that sits about 12.5 miles from our house. Let me tell you, it frosted my ass. I so wish I hadn’t had to sign that slip – not because I have some concern about the school system medicating my kid, but because that plant shouldn’t be there.

And now we’ve got Ann Coulter going off half-cocked that “radiation is good for you”. OMFG.

I sent that link to my husband and got back this:

Maybe she could go do a news segment from the top of the spent fuel pool in Reactor Building Four -- the one that's got 35+ years' worth of brightly glowing spent fuel-rod assemblies in it. When she points her camera into the pool it will help responsible scientists see how much water there is. Then we'll know that some radiation is good, because she'll be dead in an hour.

That husband of mine got himself arrested protesting a nuclear power station, back in the day. I think it might be time start protesting again. Who’s with me?

16 comments:

FreshHell said...

Sigh. We live on the escape route for a series of nuclear power plants just over the county line. We do not have access to gas lines or city water - everything's run via electricity, even the well pump, and I'm sure it's all electricity generated from those plants. And while I don't like it, we'd have to come up with a whole other way of powering everything before considering dismantling them. It's not an easy situation with a simple solution.

De said...

If the human race had a middle name, it would be expediency.

Heide said...

I'm in.

Mary G said...

What De said -- we are, I think, in a situation when many more people would die without electricity that in a power plant accident. We need a different solution, because coal-fired isn't it and there isn't enough water in the world to provide enough hydro-electricity.
We either wean ourselves off the stuff or find a safe way to provide it - same argument for fossil fuels. And as long as the lethal stuff is readily available and cheap, few people will consider expensive and cumbersome alternatives.
De said it better. And shorter.

Imperatrix said...

Sorry, not me. When done right (and the Japanese reactors were), nuclear power is clean and safe. The problems in Japan are, in my opinion, part of the natural disaster. The reactors aren't melting down because of poor production (although the Mark 1's do have weaknesses, but the retrofitted vents have solved the problem on all of them in use, including the Japanese ones), they aren't melting down because of the 8.9 earthquake (lLet's pause a moment and consider that number: 8.9. On a logarithmic scale, no less!) , they are melting down because the 9-foot tsunami walls couldn't hold back the 25-ft swells of the tsunami.

In my ideal world, we'd be dismantling all the 30-40 year old reactors and replacing them with cleaner-energy, newer models.

BUT! Even if I don't join you in the protests, I'd make food for the protestors -- convenient finger foods that you could take with you on the march.

Jenn @ Juggling Life said...

Why can't we reduce consumption as we look for solutions. People are so freaking wasteful about our resources. I know people with families half our size that use three times the water--why? because they waste it. They do the same with power. I'm so done right now.

P.S. I'm not talking about the Japanese--that's a different situation. I'm talking about the U.S.

Carol Steel 5050 said...

It is exasperating; there are many sides to this issue. You make frighteningly cogent observations but I'm more in agreement with Imperatrix.

Rima said...

I have family members in Lithuania who were 800 km away from Chernobyl when it happened, and they have health problems to this day because of the radiation cloud that blew their way. There is a nuclear power plant close to us in Ohio that was mere inches away from a core meltdown in 2002, and the rust hole in the reactor was discovered by accident.

It keeps me up at night.

mames said...

I feel kinda sick after clicking the coulter link. Never been to fox news before. Never going back again. What a jerk. I mean Ann, not you. Your husbands suggestion sounds great.

Antropóloga said...

Yes, it is scary.

Bron said...

This is why the "when done correctly, nuclear power is the best" argument doesn't work: the capacity for damage is too large to manage. Why bet on something going well 100% of the time when we KNOW FOR A FACT that that won't happen? I feel about nuclear power the same way I feel about pit bulls. If they are raised well, they are lovely pets. If they are not - and you never know which ones aren't if you're just walking down the street - their capacity for damage is enormous. [I am not, btw, advocating the extermination of pit bulls]. There are earthquake fault lines all over the place. There is no way to make sure nuclear power is safe. None.

Patois said...

I would have such a difficult time living so close to a nuclear power plant. I, too, would have fought tooth and nail to prevent it being built.

mayberry said...

I like your husband's suggestion. WTF, Ann?

yogurt said...

I don't know how good a protest would be right now but I do know it felt good to imagine AC broadcasting from atop a reactor.

leanne said...

I get nervous whenever people start talking about building more nuclear power plants.

painted maypole said...

i think i love your husband.

and you, of course.