This past week 12 tons of radioactive water leaked from the damaged Fukushima Nuclear power plant with some reaching the Pacific Ocean. This is over one year after the Fukushima-Daiichi nuclear power plant suffered from the tsunami and began the variety of breakdowns it has experienced.
The leak may stem from the fact that the thrown together system to repair the plant uses plastic piping which is much more problematic than the metal piping usually used. In addition, over 100,000 tons of radioactive water are collected in the basement of the plant without treatment. That comes out to the water used by about 250,000 Americans every day.
This radioactive leak will probably have small harm on human populations; however, the fact that the most rigorously managed nuclear reactor in the world over the last year can see a significant leak of radioactive water and still have 100,000 tons of radioactive water sitting in basement should give us all significant pause.
Once again, the issue comes down to power sources where we can turn off the effects we don’t want. Petroleum, coal, etc. are causing lasting climate effects. Nuclear presents a volatile energy source with significant problems of waste and management when things go wrong. Wind isn’t perfect, solar isn’t perfect. But if they cause ill-effects, we can at least turn them off. The ability to turn off power sources in cost-efficient and healthy ways is a necessary priority for our energy decisions.