Fukushima’s Dai-ichi Nuclear Plant Again Shows Vulnerability to Mother Nature

All the problems from the Dai-ichi Nuclear Plant stem from one cause: underestimating the power of mother nature. The sea barriers to stop a tsunami were built too low and the giant tsunami following the Great Hanshin Earthquake of 3/11 easily swamped the plant, triggering the current crisis.

On Sunday, heavy rainfall caused highly contaminated water containing strontium-90 to overflow the containment areas surrounding the 1000 storage tanks at the plant. The operator, Tepco, estimated there would be 30-40mm of rainfall, when actually over twice that amount (100 mm) fell.

“Our pumps could not keep up with the rainwater. As a result, it flowed over some containment areas,” said Tepco
spokesman Yoshikazu Nagai.

Tepco said it will increase the number of pumps and lay an additional 10km of piping to prevent such an overflow from happening again.

This incident shows the main problem with nuclear power in a country like Japan. Japan has a much higher incidence of natural disasters, such as typhoons, earthquakes, tsunamis, mudslides and volcanic eruptions. Japan’s population is also highly concentrated with 127 million people living in an area the size of California.

Japan should abandon nuclear power for good. Nuclear power plants may run safely for decades, but all it takes is one bad day. Japan also has no place to store all the waste produced from its reactors. The government wants to build waste processing plants, but no local government wants such a facility built in their area.

Japan should focus its attention on safer, more environmentally friendly forms of energy and abandon nuclear power. Such a move may raise the cost of energy, but it would also raise the safety of the Japanese people and prevent more Fukushimas from happening.

About unredundant

I am an American expat living in Tokyo, Japan. I love interacting with people so feel free to comment or ask questions. Thank you so much for dropping by!

Posted on October 21, 2013, in Uncategorized. Bookmark the permalink. 2 Comments.

  1. What is astonishing to me is the fact that the estimate that the company made is so far from reality. I mean, shouldn’t they build with a much larger margin for error? I am sure that the rainfall was higher than normal, but I would think they should plan for the worst case. We aren’t talking about a simple “oops…we will do better next time” This is radioactive water and a real catastrophe!

  2. Yes, I think a nuclear power plant needs to be built with huge margins of safety. It is just that failure that caused the problems in the first place. But what exactly is the biggest earthquake possible or the tallest tsunami? That is unanswerable. When you factor in human error and mechanical failure, I think nuclear power is simply too dangerous, especially in a densely populated country like Japan. One accident could expose tens of millions to radiation.

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