[ RadSafe ] U.N. chief urges "global re-think" on nuclear safety

Cmtimmpe at aol.com Cmtimmpe at aol.com
Wed Jun 15 11:32:12 CDT 2011

The facts are that we always could be safer - build or operate more safely; 
 but decide what is safe enough based on experience and empirical  
knowledge.  Other disasters that 'know no borders' such as oil spills or  rig 
blowouts in the oceans, have led to safety improvements.  Similar  industrial 
accidents such as Bhopal have led to improved safety programs or  regulations of 
Again, the design of essentially any structure is based on looking at  
history and deciding what is a reasonably credible accident for that  structure. 
 Thus building construction is based on the expected magnitude  of 
earthquakes during the design life of the building and the history and  research of 
what building methods/materials have a better chance of surviving an  
earthquake.  A decision to build near a river depends on the extent of the  100 
year flood plain and the probability of floods greater than the 'design  
flood' during the design life, etc.  The Fukushima reactor design reflects  that 
analysis.  The last earthquake/tsunami combination of that magnitude  was in 
1923 I believe though there was also a large one in 1952.  The point  being 
the reactor was designed for the size of earthquake/tsunami expected  
during its design life, which was probably no more than 50 years.  I  imagine 
that was considered very reasonable at the time - hindsight is always  better 
Of course, all the scientific, engineering, and technology knowledge goes  
by the wayside when immediate cost comes into the picture and not much is 
really  said about such safety concerns until the next 'disaster' strikes.  
Then,  sometimes there is actually good news - much less damage from the 
earthquake in  Chile than the one in Haiti for example as a result of better 
construction,  etc.  
We do need to do better in our risk analysis - include even 'far-fetched'  
scenarios so at least they are recognized and discussed.  There will still  
be accidents/incidents that occur that we hadn't thought about - we are 
cursed  with imperfect knowledge and the inability to predict the future!
Christopher  M. Timm, PE
Vice President/Senior Project Manager
PECOS Management  Services, Inc.
505-323-8355 - phone
505-323-2028 - fax
505-238-8174 -  mobile

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