Will We Ever Stop Using Unsafe Energy?

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Tokyo's Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant is said to be registering at 100-thousand times the normal level of radiation following the Sendai earthquake three weeks ago. Is the breach at Fukushima further proof that, in our search for energy independence, nuclear power may just be an uncontrollable gambit? Or is there a safer means to extract the power of the atom? Does fail-safe technology really exist?

For the answers, we speak to Olli Heinonen and Lisa Margonelli. Olli Heinonen is a former deputy director general for the International Atomic Energy Agency and currently a visiting scholar at Harvard’s Kennedy School. Lisa Margonelli, is a fellow at the New American Foundation where she writes about the global culture and the economy of energy. Lisa is also the author of "Oil On the Brain: Petroleum's Long Strange Trip to Your Tank.


Olli Heinonen and Lisa Margonelli

Produced by:

Hsi-Chang Lin

Comments [3]

tim from memphis tn

You misused the phrase "fail safe". No energy system is fail safe. Fail safe devises can be added to every system, but they may or may not work as expected . Walking is not "fail safe". There is nothing to prevent a person from walking in front of a car ,if they fail to look before crossing the street.

Mar. 30 2011 05:56 AM
amalgam from Manhattan by day, NJ by night

So when will the national discussion start on new paradigms of energy generation like:

distributed generation (on-site)
smart grids
smart meters?

Old line, path dependent thinking says that it is impossible to get away from centralized power generation, primarily in the form of thermoelectric power plants, while intelligent, innovative utilities and energy markets are now moving ahead to create on-site and smaller blocks of power using solar PV, forms of wind power, consumer-utility efficiency, etc.

These cleaner, smaller footprint, "fail-safe" technologies are not pie-in-the-sky, but a growing reality and a step towards our smart energy future.

Mar. 29 2011 09:47 AM

Storage of spent nuclear waste is also not a failsafe technology and no one is addressing that we will need to have humans guarding and tending these dangerous (places? regions?) of storage facilities for thousands of years. How are we intending to pay for that??????? And why are we even contemplating a (plan???) that requires countless generations (who will not have fossil fuel supplementation) to mind our mess. These days we cannot even contemplate and plan for 20 years ahead. Given our dreadful lack of foresight, nuclear power, by definition, is not a good investment, if we cannot solve the spent fuel storage problem which will require thousands of years of industrial scale human maintenance.

Mar. 29 2011 07:54 AM

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