Wednesday, March 28, 2018

The Three Mile Difference or Thirteen Years Per Mile

It's 39 years ago to the day since the Three Mile Island accident. (If you remember this, it should remind you of how old you are. If you've never heard of it, don't worry.)

To refresh your memory, a nuclear reactor near Harrisburg, Pennsylvania failed.  It was (and still is) the worst accident the U.S. nuclear industry has ever seen.  It got quite a few people scared about nuclear energy, and seriously slowed down its advancement as a power source.

I'm no expert in nuclear power, but I believe it's a relatively clean form of energy with a worse reputation than it deserves.  Yes, there are dangers, but there are serious problems associated with any form of energy (and serious problems with suddenly stopping energy production when an economy relies on it).

I wonder how things would be today if Three Mile Island hadn't happened.  (Of course, later there was the Chernobyl disaster, and Fukushima, so let's get rid of them, too.)

PS  If you're old enough to remember the incident, you're also old enough to remember The China Syndrome, a hit movie starring Jane Fonda, Jack Lemmon and Michael Douglas out at the time of the incident.  The film was about an accident at a nuclear plant.  The studio, wisely, did not take advantage of the disaster in promoting the film.


Anonymous Lawrence King said...

Nuclear power doesn't emit carbon dioxide, doesn't deplete our fossil fuels, and has no emissions. It's everything that those concerned about global warming are clamoring for -- and yet so many environmentalists hate it.

Yes, there have been badly built nuclear power plants. Building San Onofre near the San Andreas Fault and Fukushima within range of a tsunami were dumb. Soviet nuclear reactors had design flaws because they wanted to build them fast and cheap. But we know how to build safe plants.

Nuclear waste has to be disposed of safely, too. And we know how to do it. All the nuclear waste produced since the late 1950s, if placed on a football field, would be only 30 feet deep. Coal plants generate that much waste every hour. There are many easy ways to dispose of this waste -- even if we don't adopt Larry Niven's modest proposal.

Bottom line: We know how to use nuclear power safely today. Sadly, everyone got scared and we simply stopped building nuclear power plants.

5:09 PM, March 28, 2018  
Anonymous Denver Guy said...

And has any environmentalist ever apologized for exaggerating the threat of nuclear power plants, to the detriment of the energy industry? Amy Carter? It's the hubris of environmentalists on topics like this, the ozone layer, acid rain, alar, DDT, the rainforest and others that leave me mostly unconcerned over the threat of global warming.

11:53 AM, March 29, 2018  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Unfortunately, global warming doesn't care how you feel about it.

12:19 PM, March 29, 2018  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Missed the point on DDT there, DG so I would assume the rest too. I like this thought experiment- lets assume none of the accidents related tot he risks of nuclear power ever happened and lets assume industry and government would build reactors correctly and dispose of them correctly, then wouldn't everything just be peachy?

10:09 AM, March 31, 2018  

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