TMI and Deepwater

Nuclear circa 1979; Oil spill circa May 1

I’ve been thinking about the differences between the Three Mile Island accident and what’s going on in the Gulf of Mexico at the Horizon Deepwater rig.

Consider:  The TMI accident lasted 16 hours, was a melt-down of half the core of the reactor (pretty much their worst case) and exposed people to less radiation than they’d normally get walking outside on a cloudy day, according to the University of Pittsburgh.  It resulted in the suspension of any new nuclear permits being granted for 31 years.  It has crippled the nuclear industry for the same period, increasing our reliance on oil.

The Deepwater spill is now in its 23rd (TWENTY-THIRD!) day.  There is no action currently being taken at the well site to stop the leak.  There are a series of actions that may be taken over the next MONTH that MIGHT work–because we’ve never tested any of these things at these depths, ya know.    The spill is currently estimated to be the size of Delaware and is thought to be at least 50 feet deep, meaning that any cleaning being done is simply (and proverbially) skimming the surface and not getting to the core of the spill.  June 1 starts hurricane season.  Any guesses as to how 150 m.p.h. winds will affect that spill?  Residents of the Gulf Coast will be picking tar balls off their beaches for years to come.

If this had been the nuclear industry, every plant would have been shut down three weeks ago.  But since this is oil and we’re in America, that hasn’t happened and won’t.  Moves are underway in the Senate to ban offshore drilling, but for similar reasons (oil+America), I have serious doubts about its ability to pass and become law.

So, we’ve established that now (unlike 1979 and later) we’re willing to take environmental risks of epic proportions in the name of energy.  Isn’t it time that we reconsider the use of nuclear fission?

Fiss baby, fiss?

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