This week, ClickBack asked Editorial page readers about the futures of nuclear power and the Maine Turnpike Authority.
Does the earthquake-damaged nuclear plant in Japan make the case against building new plants?
“Nature provides a free lunch, but only if we control our appetites.” – William Ruckelshaus
The earth abounds with sufficient energy to satisfy our needs many times over. As diffuse resources, wind, solar, etc. require investment, benefit and profit to be diffuse as well. This is not a bad thing, the profits going to the wages of many rather than into the portfolios of the few; locally-produced electricity and dignified employment for communities, rural and service-center alike.
Our insistence on forcing renewable energy into a paradigm driven by profits over human values; money over gifts of nature; dividends over wages, will fail. Along with humans as a species.
As the disaster at Fukushima worsens, it becomes more clear daily that the potential dangers of nuclear power gone awry far outweigh the potential benefits. A lot can happen in 50,000 years.
Nuclear plants are not safe. The insurance companies know this and do not insure nuclear plants. The government assists them in this and exempts them from having to insure nuclear power with the Price-Anderson Nuclear Industries Indemnity Act.
What a great deal for the nuclear corporations.
The long term storage of spent fuels is a significant problem and one of the chief reasons to not increase the use of nuclear power. That is a technological problem that possibly can be overcome. In light of the very real, very serious threat from global climate change, it may be necessary to overcome the technical problems with storage rather than scrap the potential of nuclear energy.
The design of future reactors can benefit from this experience and be re-engineered to higher safety standards taking this natural disaster into account. Placing the reactors so close together so that such a natural event — a one in a thousand year event — created multiple problems is not a wise future strategy. Better designs and separation of facilities would have averted what is happening now.
Nuclear power is safe, to a point. The problems with the reactors in Japan, that are now evident to everyone watching the news, is that there were not as many safety precautions that were taken seriously that should have been. GE got away with building nuclear reactors with the bare minimum safety standards.
Believe it or not there are ways of building reactors that can reduce the chance of a meltdown to nearly zero, short of a direct attack on such a facility. “Redundant” safety systems are never truly redundant enough, and a pity they seem to cost so much in construction.
Should the Maine Turnpike be put on a diet?
At the very least the Legislature needs to look into making this kind of behavior punishable under criminal code.
Maybe a toll reduction would be in order. I doubt that will happen. What will likely happen is that the Governor will give the job to one of his political cronies or one hand picked by the MHPC. Then all the furor will die down and this situation will be quickly forgotten.