There was a sobering article on MSNBC.com this morning, describing a second nuclear reactor at the Fukushima Dai-ichi nuclear power plant as being at risk of explosion. Power companies that operate nuclear power plants have always maintained that nuclear power is completely safe. Prior to the current disaster, the Tokyo Electric Power Company stated that this type of catastrophic failure was not possible. Considering the risk of what can happen when all of the back-up systems fail, why would anyone of sound mind find such a risk acceptable?
After the accident at Chernobyl in 1986, an area of 150,000 square kilometers, a radius of 30 kilometers, became uninhabitable due to radioactive contamination. It would be logical to assume that, if it was possible to eliminate the risk of such an accident, lessons would have been learned from that disaster and we would not see such a disaster again. However, it is apparent from the events in Japan that it is not possible to eliminate all of the risk.
I live about about 50 kilometers from the Diablo Canyon Nuclear Power Plant in central California. Pacific Gas & Electric, which operates Diablo Canyon, has maintained that the plant is safe. If an event were to occur at Diablo Canyon like the one now occurring in Japan, the city of San Luis Obispo, at only 15 kilometers away, and many surrounding communities could find themselves in the middle of an uninhabitable zone. In my opinion, that risk is unacceptable.