A Hard Look at U.S. Reactor Hardware After Fukushima – NYTimes.com

A Hard Look at U.S. Reactor Hardware After Fukushima – NYTimes.com.

 

For me, the most interesting point here lies in the acknowledged need to evaluate risk to the populace, even when that risk seems low and costly to diminish. The effort takes the need of communal intervention beyond the valuations the immediate market provides to those that are predicated on very long time scales indeed, as time measures likelihood. It’s an immensely difficult issue to deal with and one that cannot be managed only locally but must be undertaken nationally and even internationally. Thus, international organizations monitor earthquakes and tsunamis, as no one polity can do that alone, and other examples are not hard to come by.

But what about something like nuclear waste? Storing it has been a company obligation, perhaps a sub- or national one, not an international responsibility, at least not that I know of, though nuclear waste is traded, I believe. And what then about carbon waste? Or other byproducts that not only affect the region’s populace and ecology but the globe’s, if not now, eventually?

It’s the “eventually” that needs to be appreciated, for it obviously doesn’t mean status quo until then, nor that prior risk makers are not already affecting us. Just look at global warming and curse our grandparents for not having had the foresight, back when the logic started turning bleak, to prevent the present course.

But governments and communities in general have not imagined their remit has having such a long trajectory. Such future planning is not even taught in graduate schools–at least I don’t think it is. When a building is designed, when a road is paved, a subway tunnel excavated, and so on–is a future of consequence stretching decades ahead imagined? 

No.

But it has to be. It need not be a paresis of the present to do so, either. Fairly simple steps and procedures are likely all that are required, as the main point is to build in to any design the probability of its failure under duress, and to create templates of such instances of duress.