While I have been slamming what I think is faulty nuclear energy and safety analysis by Mark Jacobson at Stanford University, I do believe that it is reasonable and necessary to make energy safer.
There should be improved containment structures built at nuclear power plants and their should be improved facilities for the spent nuclear fuel ponds. There were explosions from gas build up during Fukushima and radiation releases which resulted which are easily containable.
* establish better protection for the backup generators and backup fuel for those generators (bury them underground, so they cannot be washed away by waves. Look at the specifics for each site).
* Other preventative steps should be taken. There have been safety reviews and remediation is being carried out.
* create fast deployment inflatable structures that can be flown to any of the nuclear reactors to provide extra containment to localize any radiation release. This is like making the adjustable caps for underwater oil pipe leaks for the BP oil spill. There is no reason the oil leaks or the radiation releases should go on for more than a few days. Unforeseen situations can arise and an adaptable, effective mitigating response should be ready
* There have already been passive safety design improvements at new nuclear plants. Old plants need to have improvements where possible as well.
There is more safety lives saved for the buck from doing things like vaccinating children and having clean birth deliveries. However, the world has strong economy and there is plenty of money to do more effective actions to save lives and prevent accidents.
However, the analysis of real risks needs to be correct and accurate. This is the reason that I have slammed Mark Jacobson. He is throwing in crappy analysis that will lead to bad plans that will cost lives.
His own calculations show that the hurried evacuation cost more lives than it saved. Even though he overestimates both evacuation deaths and potential radiation deaths.
The aged and infirm should not be evacuated from radiation releases like Fukushima. They will not develop new cancer from the radiation before they would die of whatever their current health issues. Only evacuation or improved sheltering from promptly fatal radiation levels.
Doing the same thing for everyone would be like having air bags for everyone even if the air bags are known to injure and kill small children.
There are alternatives to evacuation. You can keep fallout farther away from people who are indoors. It is called sheltering in place. It can be done for chemical and radiation incidents.]
If you know that sometimes systems fail even if you have tried to make systems work, then you need to have mobile systems that can be brought into the disaster area quickly. You can put back up generators on a ship that have adaptable attachments that can be made to provide power even if the local generators are damaged. There should be systems that can be moved by cargo plane or large helicopter.
There should be more graceful fallback to workable alternatives and backup systems that are centralized. National Guard emergency response should have more heavy equipment that can be effective. It is not just having guns and tanks but being able to deal with nuclear, chemical and biological incidents. Big systems should be prebuilt and designed to handle large scale situations.
Aircraft carriers should not just be about fighting other aircraft carriers and militaries. There should be a civilian carrier(s) with heavy generators, structures that can be built quickly, water and communication. It should be mobile infastructure that can provide the necessary basic level of water, energy, communication, sanitation for events like Katrina or Fukushima or the Tsunami/earthquake.
How many wars had Japan, China and India had in the last few decades ? How many earthquakes and tsunamis and hurricanes ? Yet far less is spent on what is the more common problem.
But this mitigation and the beefing up and and adding a major new role to national guards would be expensive. As expensive as what Japan and Germany are choosing to inflict on their economy now. Tens of billions of dollar in cost to shut down nuclear reactors, impair electricity to factories and businesses and importing fossil fuel.
Japan should turn on all the working reactors and garnish the profits for a few years to pay for extensive mitigation and build up scaled up emergency services and systems.
Buildings should also just be built better and tougher. Hurriquake nails would prevent houses from suffering as much damage. This would be a shift to less financial insurance and rebuilding after the fact to being tough enough to not get broken so badly in the first place.
Brian Wang is a Futurist Thought Leader and a popular Science blogger with 1 million readers per month. His blog Nextbigfuture.com is ranked #1 Science News Blog. It covers many disruptive technology and trends including Space, Robotics, Artificial Intelligence, Medicine, Anti-aging Biotechnology, and Nanotechnology.
Known for identifying cutting edge technologies, he is currently a Co-Founder of a startup and fundraiser for high potential early-stage companies. He is the Head of Research for Allocations for deep technology investments and an Angel Investor at Space Angels.
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