Tuesday, July 17, 2007

Japan Nuclear Plant Shutdown

Reliability has never been a strong suit of nuclear power plant operations, with safety problems, forced shutdowns, and similar difficulties plaguing the technology since its introduction. A recent quake in Japan, as reported by Reuters, put their largest plant out of commission.
And anyone who remembers the 2003 heat wave in Europe that took 35,000 lives might also remember that many of the nuclear power reactors in France went offline during much of that period because of cooling problems (sometimes produced by the rise in temperature of the water sourced for cooling intake). Similar problems occurred in Europe during July 2006.

Is it smart to invest in a technology that relies on absolute precision in controlling operational temperatures during a time when global warming is making that increasingly difficult? As the French reactor operators discovered, the approach doesn't work all that well.