Current Deliberations Over the Nuclear Power Plants
Now, more than ever, the safety of nuclear power plants is receiving increased attention and deliberations. The recent nuclear accident in Fukushima, Japan, as an offshoot of the magnitude-nine (9) earthquake and 15-meter wavelength tsunami that hit Japan in a single event last March, 2011, has magnified the issue, thus spurring more debates.
The incident occurred at a time when the U.S. Congress is still in the process of deliberating on the DOE’s (Department of Energy), proposal to increase the 2011 budget allocations for nuclear plant projects , from its current $ 18.5 billion to $ 54.5 billion.
Members of the House Committee have expressed concerns that the Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) has overlooked the possibility of similar catastrophes like the combined tsunami-earthquake event that was experienced by Japan. In one of its hearings, the NRC chairman admitted that the approved designs took into considerations only the ground-shaking motions as an occurrence. They did not include measures against earthquakes at magnitude 9 or even a tsunami-earthquale as likely events.
Japan is highly recognized for its advanced technology that is even regarded as more sophisticated compared to other countries. As an earthquake–prone region, their designs have taken into consideration ground movements; but not the near-simultaneous occurrence of an earthquake and a tsunami. Said incident had led to the crippling of structural requirements and components like electric power, back-up diesel generators and oil storage tanks. Albeit designed for a tsunami catastrophe, the most that the Fukushima nuclear plant was prepared against was at six-meter wavelengths and not the 15-meter wavelengths that actually took place.
The pros and cons of nuclear power plants are essential points to consider, but some house representatives would prefer to compare these aspects against other renewable sources of energy like water, solar and wind elements.
Image Credit: Indian Point nuclear reactor, seen from across the Hudson River on US 9W by Daniel Case lifted from http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Indian_Point_crop.jpg