Some progress on Japan nuclear crisis, but is danger of nuclear power worth it all? I still think it is unsafe at any speed…

March 20, 2011

I used to or maybe still do sometimes look in askance at people who say they have not had time to keep up with the news, and now I find myself, a life-long news junkie (thanks mostly to my mom, even if my dad was the newspaperman) almost in that predicament.

I have a real job (driving a truck) that does not always allow me to get back on this blog when I want to or read up on the latest news, but I have heard some of the reports at the top of the hour on radio and have now scanned to news on the web.

What I have blogged about the Japan disaster has been on the nuclear danger for the most part, but what a disaster for the people there in the affected areas (and the rest of the nation) where the quake hit the hardest and resulting tsunami destroyed so much. As many or more than 10,000 may have died (I think the official number is still a little below 10,000).

A week has gone by and the radiation danger information seems equivocal — it’s a major threat; it’s not a major threat. We do know now that the plume, or whatever you would call it, has reached the West Coast of the United States.

Unsafe (how unsafe?) levels have been found in food items produced near the damaged nuclear reactors in Japan and it is suspected a lot of the radiation is going into the ocean and will contaminate sea food — a major staple of the Japanese diet. Food is already in short supply in Japan — this of course adds to the problem.

I had previously posted part of this blog post below and then added to it and then due to time constraints from my real job was not able to revise it to my satisfaction so I trashed it, but now am reposting some to get the thoughts out.

I know nothing about nuclear science and like most people I am totally dependent upon the “experts” and authorities and interpretations in the news to tell me of the possible dangers or the general safety of producing nuclear power. I do not put my faith in politically-motivated, sensation-seeking blowhards on the airwaves, of which there are many.

But I can say I do not trust it, nuclear power, and watching the havoc it has caused in Japan, I want no part of it, even though I know we have some reactors here in the United States (I drive by one occasionally, San Onofre, and maybe others too).

I personally do not think they are worth the risk and am continually amazed at how our insatiable demand for energy drives us to endanger our environment and risk our health, whether it be from leaking oil wells in the Gulf of Mexico (I just read a report that there seems to be another leak in the Gulf now) or from damaged nuclear reactors spreading potentially deadly radiation. I know that if you express concern, some of those on the shrill right, many of whom are essentially entertainers looking to get an audience by tweaking those they call left-wing wackos for expressing concern for the environment, will accuse you of wanting to go back to the horse and buggy days or the Stone Age.

So anyway, it seems that progress has been made on cooling down the damaged nuclear reactors in Japan.


ADD 2:

It all goes back and forth. This morning I read in the news that pressure is building in one of the reactors letting out additional radiation — a setback.


And as bad as things are there, it has been removed from the front page, if you will, from the national news (at least at my last check) by the United Nations and American-involved, air attack on the Gaddafi forces in Libya. I’ll try to blog about that in some depth as I get time, but all I can say right now — probably big mistake and a no-win situation. Even if Gaddafi is removed, who’s to say who or that which replaces him will be better for America?

And back to a reposting of a former blog post:

Watching the Japan disaster I’m thinking nuclear power is unsafe at any speed…

So in my last post I told about how I kind of felt like I was having an On the Beach experience (reference to the 1950s nuclear war disaster novel and movie).

I was not really in any kind of panic, just had a strange feeling.

And I realize this all could pass, just as Three Mile Island and even the much worse Chernobyl did without the world coming to an end and with virtually all of us here is America (and yes I know three Mile island was in America) coming out of all of this quite unscathed.

But when I’m driving down the highway, except for one radio station out of San Francisco, the only thing — almost anyway — I seem to get is right-wing talk show hosts with the obligatory attitude in their world that the only people who worry about environmental things are kooky liberals.

One today (not today anymore since I am reposting this) who is nowadays syndicated out of New York and who used to be quite good, I thought, when he was in Sacramento and still could see both sides of an issue even though he always came down on the right, was just full of it.

This guy was saying that there is no danger from the nuclear reactors nearing or at melt down in Japan as the result of the Sendai Earthquake and tsunami. He also made the astonishing claim that there were no long-term effects from radiation to those Japanese who went through the nuclear attacks on two of their cities by the U.S. in World War II. In fact, he implied that some people seemed to be healthier as the result than the population at large.


Add 1:

Conservative, liberal baiting, personality Ann Coulter ( I do not know if she is ever to be taken seriously or she is just show biz) praises the positive wonders of radiation in a video all over the web, so to speak.


He (back to the conservative talk show host) claims that nuclear energy is no more unsafe than any other kind. I know KGO San Francisco radio’s Dr. Bill Wattenburg (not the man I have been talking about) is fond of claiming that you get more radiation from coal dust than nuclear power plants and oil spills are not a problem because oil came out of the ground in the first place, but I am questioning the reasoning on all of this.

And over the past day or so the original guy I was talking about dismissed concerns that man could cause environmental disasters because, well, his reasoning is that God or nature is much more powerful, so for anyone to think that man could do worse is silly, so therefore we need not worry so much about man-caused degradation of the planet and its environment. Somehow I think there is a break in logic there. I mean I think both man and nature can do bad things. We cannot control nature, but we could control ourselves.

As far as the threat from radiation in all of this or from the production of nuclear energy in general, I have to leave that up to the scientists to assess, although I think we as inhabitants of the earth need to know as much as we can and should have a say in all of this.

The reports about possible nuclear dangers coming out of Japan are conflicting.

But right now I am beginning to wonder if nuclear energy is not safe at any speed.

Looking toward Japan and feeling like I’m On the Beach…

March 15, 2011

I guess I was ten years old when I watched the movie “On the Beach”.

And I don’t want to be alarmist or anything, but I cannot help but almost have something similar to that On the Beach feeling, what with waiting for the possibility of an invisible cloud of radiation to come wafting over the Pacific towards my home on the West Coast of America.

The news at this moment is that the official line out of Washington or approved by Washington from the experts in the field is that no danger from nuclear fallout is expected here in the United States, even as Japanese nuclear power plant workers scramble to deal with several explosions and imminent (not necessarily inevitable) core meltdowns that could disperse highly toxic levels of radiation (there have been some high readings and there have been evacuations at and near the Japanese plants). The reports seem to suggest that things are or almost are out of control.

Of course there are those, perhaps some being opportunists, who may want to instill a kind of concern or panic and push you to purchase pills or iodine supplements, for good or commerce. I did see one official-looking but suspicious website that quoted a “doctor” as saying people might have to quit eating produce from the western United States. Now that would hurt. Much of my living is made off of that product as a long-haul truck driver out here — let‘s don‘t get too carried away just yet.

Oh, and for those of you too young to remember, On the Beach was a 1950s Cold War era movie adapted from a 1950s novel by the author Neville Shute about the aftermath of a nuclear war between the old USSR and the U.S. begun by accident and the remaining survivors who were awaiting the cloud of radiation to hit them.

Thankfully it does not seem that such is the likely scenario here and now, but then again this disaster, as the result of the most powerful earthquake to ever hit Japan and the resulting tsunami, late last week, has not played out yet and the news changes by the minute.

But life is always minute by minute.

U.S. should indeed send all it can to Japan in its hour of need; Reactor meltdown threats give pause to the idea we should expand nuclear energy here…

March 13, 2011

I’m glad to see that the United States is putting all of its available resources together to help Japan in the wake of its worst earthquake ever — now upgraded to 9 from the previous 8 on the Richter Scale — and the accompanying tsunami (the water doing the most damage).

Hopefully we will do a better job than when we tried to help ourselves during Katrina.

And I think that every available resource needs to be sent, even if it means pulling ones out of the Middle East. I’d rather see us saving people than killing people for geo political advantage.

Worrisome is the ongoing nuclear reactor crisis in Japan. Reports are unclear at the time I am writing this, but it seems that possibly three plants are involved. At any rate, there is a fear of a partial or complete meltdown at more than one plant. I don’t understand the science, but I know that the danger is that deadly radiation will be — already has been to an extent? — spread into the atmosphere.

In my mind this gives pause to the notion that we should move ahead with expanding nuclear energy in this country — how safe is it really?

And the scientists among you tell me this: has it ever been figured out what to do with the wastes?

There was some damage from the tsunami on the U.S. West Coast, but minor, compared to Japan. We even had some deaths — some people actually were killed after purposely going down to the beaches to watch for the tsunami (what were they thinking?).

It looks as if the deaths in Japan will reach into the several thousands (million?   ADD 1: 10,000 seems now to be the current estimate).

I understand that Japan was extremely prepared in earthquake-resistant construction but could not protect itself from the waves. I wonder how well we would do in the same situation. Infrastructure does not seem to be a big concern here and no one wants to spend money on safety — just fun.

Japan will recover. The people are strong.

Best wishes to them and hopes we can be of help.