Nuclear After Japan
By Amory Lovins
As heroic workers and soldiers strive to save stricken Japan from a new horror–radioactive fallout–some truths known for 40 years bear repeating.
An earthquake-and-tsunami zone crowded with 127 million people is an unwise place for 54 reactors. The 1960s design of five Fukushima-I reactors has the smallest safety margin and probably can’t contain 90% of meltdowns. The U.S. has 6 identical and 17 very similar plants.
Every currently operating light-water reactor, if deprived of power and cooling water, can melt down.
Fukushima had eight-hour battery reserves, but fuel has melted in three reactors. Most U.S. reactors get in trouble after four hours. Some have had shorter blackouts. Much longer ones could happen. Overheated fuel risks hydrogen or steam explosions that damage equipment and contaminate the whole site–so clustering many reactors together (to save money) can make failure at one reactor cascade to the rest.