Oh and we lied about the fault lines …
In the interesting collection of facts that are coming up around the recent earthquake in my neighborhood, one of my favorites is that Dominion (then Virginia Power) was told there was a fault line under their nuclear power plant and ignored the information. Then, as the NY Times reports, the utility testified to the NRC that there were no faults; when the truth was revealed they were fined $32K. Now Dominion admits it does not know exactly why the reactor shut itself off during the earthquake, but this does not deter them from wanting to restart it right away.
So now we have had an earthquake which is beyond the design basis for the plant. The NRC and Dominion are arguing about how much beyond it is, but there is agreement that the plant was not designed to handle this level of shaking. And Dominion is still pushing forward with construction of the foundation for a new reactor at the site.
The rest of the world is learning. While Japan won’t follow Germany’s lead for a rapid phase out of reactors, and new reactor construction is dead in both countries. This is also the case in Switzerland and Italy after recent votes. India feels it has no choice. Of course, the renewable energy rich US has lots of choices.
i am tempted to quote Kurt Vonnegut who said, “We could have saved the Earth but we were too damned cheap,” but because renewables are getting to be cheaper than nuclear power, the correct quote would be, “We could have saved ourselves, but we were too damned stupid.”