[ 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
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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