The appallingly poor design of the Fukushima nuclear plant in Japan defines human stupidity at its most sublime. Potentially even more destructive than thermonuclear bombs are nuclear reactors. A bomb gives off much of its power in the explosion and most of the radioactive byproducts are dissipated in a month, but a melt-down reactor would spew vastly more radioactive material and continue doing so over many years. These reactors must be made not just safe but absolutely safe, even from a direct hit by an atomic bomb dropped by a hostile power.
Photo from Gizmondo. From this photograph you can see the reactor buildings with their roofs blown off by explosions. Most of the buildings are still intact, but just imagine what a single attack by a single B-52 bomber with 100 conventional bombs would do to this site. If just four of those conventional bombs were armor piercing and guided directly into the core of these four reactors, what would happen?Needless to say if the plant cannot recover from the relatively modest natural assault by the sea it would go into total chaos after such an easily conducted military attack.
A nuclear power plant would be a very high priority for a military attack, and the Israelis have already demonstrated this by attacking reactors in Syria and Iraq. They are now contemplating an attack against ones in Iran. Because they are such desirable targets the reactors should be designed and built in such a way that they can sustain total damage and still not go into a melt down. Because, if a melt down occurs it will impact the rest of the world for the future. Absolutely everyone, forevermore will be negatively impacted.
A yellow line 100 meters long has been drawn along the shore for scale. The closest building is less than 50 meters from the normally crashing sea. Obviously the tsunami went much further inland.
A list of problems and solutions for the Fukushima reactors
- Located on zone of frequent major earthquakes. – Relocate the reactors to Japan’s safer regions to the west.
- Located on a sea shore with frequent major tsunamis. – Design a seawall for the biggest possible wave then make it bigger.
- Position of the reactors was too close together so if one fails the others are at risk of failure. – Have an international law, that all reactors and storage facilities are built at least a kilometer apart, because meltdowns affect everyone
- Storing spent fuel rods in a liquid storage pond over the reactor, so if something goes seriously wrong with the reactor or the pond both become dangerous. – Have a piping system to transport small containers of dangerous materials to and from remote storage sites.
- Placing the whole thing inside an unventilated building so a possible build up of hydrogen from known reactions is concentrated and becomes explosive. – Maintain an easily open-able and close-able containment building.
- Not making the whole power plant absolutely safe from even a major military attack. – Totally enclose the reactors deep within the Earth with automatically safe shut down built in.
- Placing the workers work-stations so they can not do their jobs when there is a problem. – Have workers at a safe distance and in radiation and explosion proof work sites, with safe tunnels to the reactors, with clean filtered air forced to their stations.
- Very limited access to the reactors when there is a problem. – Design the whole system so there is a safe and easy access to all critical places during worst case situations.
- Not having many independent automatic fail-safe back up systems. – Make any system failures send the system automatically into an inert condition.
- Having stupid people designing, building and operating these very dangerous devices. – Since all people are presumed to be stupid, have designers, builders and operators, and similarly knowledgeable people periodically come in the situation and offer challenges to the system.
Go to BBC, The battle to keep control of nuclear plant in Japan, to see the article which were the source for the photos below.
The spent fuel rods are reported to be stored in the heavy water pool at the top of the reactors. This is an independent risk from the reactor core itself, and a failure of either one seriously effects the safe control of the other one.
Diagram from Yahoo News
There is no cure for human stupidity and shortsightedness therefore, since –
People are stupid. They must be frequently challenged to obey natural laws.