Thoughts on Japan and Libya

I am surprised that, a week after my last blog post, the situation with the nuclear reactors in Japan has not improved. Indeed, it seems to have gotten worse in many respects, despite every effort to solve the ongoing core-cooling problems in three of the reactors, and a dried-out fuel rod pool next to the fourth reactor. As I write this, workers have been evacuated from the area of the Fukushima Daiichi plant once again, and radiation levels in the vicinity continue to oscillate.

While it seems the Japanese government has not yet gained control of the situation, I am hopeful — as is William Bochardt, executive director of the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission Operations — that it is stabilizing. The Japanese authorities have brought new power lines to the facility, which is the first step in getting the cooling pumps working again.

I remain convinced that nuclear energy is one of our best alternative energy sources, and we should not allow the current disaster in Japan to steer us away from it. What we should first do is ensure that our current reactors are ready for disaster if it strikes — with effective redundant emergency cooling systems — and then make sure that any future reactors are designed from the start to be as safe as they can possibly be. Hundreds of nuclear reactors continue to function around the world today without incident, and I firmly believe that future reactors will be even safer and more efficient.

In other news, I have been watching our progress in Libya with much interest. I think our attack on Gaddafi’s military was warranted. I support the efforts of our own military and hope we achieve our goals in Libya quickly so we can keep our focus on other matters.

— Bob