As the Fukushima crisis continues to spread, Tokyo Electric has unveiled a plan that, it hopes, will stop ongoing radiation leaks within 6 to 9 months. It claims that evacuees will be able to return home in 6 months, although many critics doubt that this will actually happen, especially for those who lived closest to the reactor. Meanwhile, radioactive water pours into the ocean from the flooded utility tunnel.
In the face of all this damage, the question must recur: coal or nuclear?I think we should choose nuclear, but ONLY those nuclear plants that will fail safely, i.e. will not cause a disaster even if all power, cooling, and human attention were cut off, both to the reactor and to the spent fuel storage. This should be the minimum requirement for approving, or extending the life of, any nuclear reactor. Only two of the nuclear plants now in service meet this criterion (and virtually none of the ones now being built in China). Nor does the CANDU design. But pebble bed reactors do, and there could be other successful designs.
Why do we accept so much danger, for ourselves and our children, when there is a much safer alternative?