Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Tragedy In Japan Makes It Hard To Keep It Light

Since I started this project a few months back, I've always tried to keep a wry sense of humor about it. But, as I mentioned in my very first post, my quest to become a more conscientious and efficient energy user is strongly rooted in more serious concerns. In particular, efforts on the part of Florida Power and Light to construct two new nuclear reactors on the shores of Biscayne Bay prompted me to finally take stock of how I was living in favor of wiser use. After all, if it is possible to halve our current consumption through simple changes in behavior, is expanding Turkey Point really worth the additional risks to our health and environment?

The frightening reality unfolding around the badly damaged Fukushima Dai-ichi nuclear power plant is a resounding wake-up call to the rest of the world. Five days into the aftermath, the plant has not only suffered three major explosions, but a tank holding spent fuel rods is now ablaze. The reactors are experiencing a meltdown worse than Three Mile Island, and rapidly approaching the severity of Chernobyl.

The devastation in Japan is gut-wrenching and so extensive that it-- like another disaster called Charlie Sheen-- is difficult to process with the human mind. Still, we had better pay attention. EVERY nuclear facility we construct is wrought with some element of risk. Regardless of where it is constructed, EVERY nuclear facility bears a real probability of failure. Whether by the sheer force of a tsunami or a powerful surge of a tropical storm; whether by the howling winds of a tornado or a typhoon, or at the careless hands of a technician or the careful hands of terrorist-- EVERY plant is susceptible to unimaginable damage.

Those that would look to the defend the use of nuclear power in light of the luck we've experienced over Turkey Point's thirty-year history should remember that, until just five days ago, Fukushima-Dai-ichi was also accident-free. For whatever reason, the powers-that-be have seen fit to afford us a measure of dumb luck. But rather than be grateful, we seem hell-bent on tempting fate by extending the life of a nuclear plant perched perilously on the edge of a rising ocean.

The south Florida community owes a debt of gratitude to my friends at the Eye on Miami blog for consistently bringing to light the true implications of nuclear power generation in south Florida...

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