The Future of Nuclear after Fukushima

Many are wondering if one of the casualties of Japan’s tsunami last spring is the nuclear industry. Without question, the meltdown of the reactors at the Fukushima Daiichi power plant was a wake up call on the risks of this technology. Nevertheless, the benefits of pursuing nuclear energy still far outweigh the risks, as Rod Adams recently observed in the National Review (June 20, 2011):

“In the midst of all the destruction, an important fact frequently gets lost: Not a single member of he plant staff or a single member of the general public has been exposed to a sufficient dose of radiation to cause any harm. The highest dose to any of the workers involved in the recovery effort has been less than 250 millisieverts (25 rem), which is beneath the internationally accepted limit for people responding to a life-threatening accident.

“The doses received by the celebrated ‘Fukushima Fifty’ recovery workers are roughly the same as the dose that the young Lt. Jimmy Carter and several hundred other people received when responding to a December 1952 accident at an experimental reactor in Chalk River, Canada.

“Even after the Fukushima disaster–affecting six 30-to-40-year-old plants that had primitive control systems, inadequate backup-power supplies, and insufficient protections against the potential effects of eqarthquakes and tsunamies–nuclear energy has compiled a remarkable saftey record.”

Additional insight into the potential for nuclear power can be found in the Reason Foundation roundtable organized by Shikha Dalmia.