I'm always concerned with redundancy & in Japan the backup pumps were not protected. They could have been used earlier to pump seawater as a coolant.
Spent fuel rods should never be present at a powerplant. They should be recycled immediately after use. Jimmy Carter stopped recycling of spent fuel rods and must take part of the responsibility for the tragedy in Japan. Japan copied our technology & followed the Carter no-recyle plan.
France recycles spent fuel & stores the resulting less toxic material in a closet in Marsailles. We should also be recycling fuel in the USA.
Any environmentalist with a proliferation "concern" should be told to store spent fuel in their back yards or turn off their lights & go off grid.
It's a shame that the Fukishima disaster occurred on several fronts. First off, the hardships incurred by the Japanese is eclipsed, perhaps, only by the Ukrainian nuclear disaster. Second, this disaster seriously-compromised the future of nuclear power generation. Last, because its future is compromised, pressures to develop renewable energy sources will escalate to levels that may, in fact, result in the deployment of inferior solutions, simply to appease those who are abnormally-frightened about nuclear power generation.
The world actually needs more nuclear power generation to serve as a logical bridge between conventional power generation, and renewable generation. People have a distorted view of renewable power generation: thinking that all one has to do is to erect a wind turbine, or assemble a photo-voltaic array, tie them into the grid, and call it a day. The reality of renewable energy generation is that we still do not have viable, long-term storage, and until science develops such a break-through in stationary batteries - batteries that can deliver relatively-constant DC for several weeks at a time, while not requiring an enormous land mass to implement - practical renewable energy generation is still 15 - 20-years down the road.
It's not just Engineers who need to learn these valuable lessons, it's their leaders who often slash the budgets the engineers have to work with, and force what was a good design into a compromise between cost and capability. I run into this situation all too often, where the managers of engineers are finance people by background, and they just don't get it. It's amazing how many times I've have to explain why the codes and standards are what they are to someone who doesn't understand why they need to spend the $$ I'm asking for.
Although in this case...point taken. It couldn't have cost much more to install the generators on high ground, duh.
The single most important thing that should NEVER be done with nuclear reactors is to build a bunch of them at one sight. If one has a problem, the radiation level and other effects make you abandon ALL of them. Storing waste material near the reactor makes it even a bigger problem.
I LIKE nuclear power...but storing and not re-processing fuel is a big mistake, and if you can't clean the litter-box, you shouldn't own a cat.
In my opinion, nuclear engineers lost a lot of credibility in this latest fiasco. The mantra of nuclear engineers for many years has been, "we have redundant safety systems" and "an accident cannot happen" because we have thought of everything. The only reason those plants even had a problem was due to the generstors being built too low. Really? In my opinion, if you build a plant in an eatrthquake zone where tsunamis regularly happen and you don't provide for multiple redundant power backup systems, you might want to find a new calling. This never should have happened. Shame on the planners of this plant.
Based on my experience working with firms in Japan I can only say that they are fast learners. It is true that the government may delay many of the changes and recommendations, but the next plant will be over-protected. I do not thibk that they will allow same errors in such an important application where lives of so many people are affected.
I would hope that a disaster of this magnitude can promote some serious lessons learned both from the standpoint of future nuclear reactor designs as well as disaster recovery best practices. Given that most of these plants are aging, particular those in the U.S., this event should prompt some serious rethinking and reengineering of many of these plants' core structures. Whether there's money to be had to fund these retrofits, which no doubt will be costly, is another story.
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