Bob Herbert is absolutely right: a catastrophic nuclear accident in a populated area like Ohio or Illinois would instantly trivialize the BP Gulf disaster. Nuclear power has some positive aspects, but the negative consequences are horrific.
[this is actually a coal plant, I think, in northern Indiana]
Americans are not particularly good at learning even the most painful lessons. Denial is our default mode. But at the very least this tragedy in the gulf should push us to look much harder at the systems we need to prevent a catastrophic accident at a nuclear power plant, and for responding to such an event if it occurred.
Right now, we’re not ready.
Nuclear plants are the new hot energy item. The Obama administration is offering federal loan guarantees to encourage the construction of a handful of new plants in the U.S., the first in decades. Not to be outdone, Senator Lamar Alexander of Tennessee, a certifiable nuke zealot, would like to see 100 new plants built over the next 20 years.
There is no way to overstate how cautiously we need to proceed along this treacherous road. Building nuclear power plants is mind-bogglingly expensive, which is why you need taxpayer money to kick-start the process. But the overriding issues we need to be concerned about, especially in light of our horrendous experience with the oil gushing in the gulf for so long, are safety and security.
We have to be concerned about the very real possibility of a worst-case scenario erupting at one of the many aging nuclear plants already operating (in some cases with safety records that would make your hair stand on end), and at any of the new ones that so many people are calling for.
(click to continue reading Bob Herbert- We’re Not Ready on Nuclear Power – NYTimes.com.)
Nuclear waste, possibility of a meltdown, and the energy corporations that build and maintain nuclear plants are not trustworthy – i.e., are more concerned about quarterly profits, and getting corporate welfare – I’m certain there are other objections, but aren’t these enough?