Fukushima is a triumph for nuke power: Build more reactors now!
I guess today's headline is par for the course. After seeing Lewis declare"Fukushima is a triumph" on Monday, painting the current crisis as a "Shameful media panic" could almost be considered sober reporting.
Fortunately, I can get real journalism from my local dead tree rag. The Japanese now have got power delivered to the site, as in mega watts of it, and they have used the week to design some custom unmanned vehicles that can get close to the buildings. The combination means they can deliver some 2000 tons of water per hour where it is needed. I am guessing this will finally bring the situation under control. With the spent fuel pools boiling away 37 tons of water per hour, pointing a 4 inch fire hose at a hole in the wall was a best a delaying tactic.
Clearly that didn't worry Lewis. I presume that is because he didn't have a clue what was going on. First he told us the reactors were safe. Then he acknowledged they may have been breached, but assured us a breach isn't serious. Then belatedly he realised the real danger was a spent fuel rod fire. That the only way they had of fighting it for 4 days was a daisy chain of local fire trucks pointing hoses at the building from a distance didn't seem to faze him. If he realised far more than that would be required, he didn't mention it in his "expert" commentary.
Unwarranted media panic indeed, Lewis. If you weren't aware of the emergency response the Japanese engineers were cooking up, and weren't looking on at the developing situation with increasing angst, you were either not paying attention or a fool.
For all that Lewis was probably right. It is likely nobody outside of evacuation zone was ever in much danger. Even if the worst happened a fuel rod fire dumped radioactive waste into the atmosphere, I the Japanese would of moved people out of the harms way. And because clear headed thinking saved the day, no doubt Lewis would still be proclaiming today it as a nuclear triumph.
If Lewis isn't just an industry shill and genuinely believes Fukushima is a triumph that should lead us into building more of the current nuclear plan designs, he is a moron. The current plant designs are barely cost effective now. Because of the huge up front capital costs the primary running cost is interest. To be viable the current designs have to be massive, they have to work continuously as designed for decades, and the cleanup must be as budgeted. Accidents like this blow all those assumptions out of the water. The effect of that extra is to push that primary cost, interest, over the top. So when Obama asked the nuclear industry replace the coal they asked him for $100 billion in loan guarantees, to negate that risk. And that was before this happened. This has even managed to undermine "only nuclear can supply reliable base load". If Japan's current load shedding goes on for a year, no one will believe these massive nuclear plants can reliably supply base load either.
Before nuclear can succeed we need to prove one of those radical new designs. The current one, which requires massive plants that burn only a tiny portion of the fuel and leaving the rest for us to either blow ourselves up with or look after for millennia is a disaster. But we have known that for decades. If Fukushima is a triumph, it is because it has made that point so clear it can't be ignored. Hopefully it will push into funding the development something that is viable, and can replace it.