Do you feel like Life is in s l o w m o t i o n since the devastation that started in Japan last week and is still ongoing? I sure do. As I write this on Wednesday night, the news is dire and filled with uncertainties. What could happen is anyone's guess and could affect us all, or just be a false alarm with a lot of finger-pointing and arm waving. The truth is that no one really knows what happens in a worst-case scenario because it has never happened. All the mucky-mucks have is textbook theory.
I lived in Maryland about 50 miles downstream from Three Mile Island when it happened in March, 1979. Let me tell you, no one around me felt secure. I moved to a remote area in mountains a year later, not to avoid nuke plants although that was a plus. Of course I didn't stay in the mountains but a few years, leaving only after becoming dead broke, to find a decent paying position in a city. I came back to my beloved mountains when I retired several years ago.
From where I live now, there are 6 commercial nuclear plants within 200 miles (the American Thyroid Association recommends a 200 mile protective zone) of me. The closest is McGuire, NC @ 102 miles, followed by Catawba, SC @ 126 miles; Oconee, SC @ 160 miles; Shearon Harris, NC @ 167 miles; Virgil C Summer, SC @ 176 miles, and HB Robinsin, SC @ 185 miles. You can look up the nuclear facilities close to your home here: Nuclear Reactor Maps.
As far as I know, the government does not disclose the locations of their military or research nuclear locations.
I'm not necessarily worried about the nuclear power plants near me, just the potential for nuclear problems in general. I am glad there is not one in my backyard, but some things other than proximity worry me a lot more. They have yet to find a way to safely dispose of spent fuel rods. All they know how to do is keep them covered by 30 feet of cold water. I think that will put a further strain on our decreasing water supply in a few years. Then there's the rest of the cost of storing the spent rods... 24/7 security, possible leakage into the community or?, constant monitoring... and then what if there's a problem???
Perhaps, just perhaps... we Americans could learn to use less electricity, like most of the world does? Learn to conserve? Learn to hang clothes on the line to dry instead of using the "expensive to buy and run" clothes dryer? Unplug all the chargers for our cell phones and gadgets when they are not actively charging? In other words, eliminate our phantom loads, of which most households have plenty... dust-busters, anything with a timer such as the coffee pot, the stereo that hasn't actually been turned on in a month but still plugged in for an instant start... and God Forbid we unplug the TV when we're not watching it... why, it may take 2-3 minutes to warm up enough for a picture to appear!
Why, we could even reduce the highway speed limits to reduce gasoline consumption. (Oil refining requires electricity.) Did you know the cost of producing aluminum is close to 40% in electricity alone? (Have you ever bought parchment paper to use instead of waxed paper or aluminum foil? I don't know if it's more efficient to produce or not, just a theoretical question).
I do know we can all do more to conserve, and we're all in this together.
The Earth quakes
The Water flows
And Ripples Through the World
Sending waves of Fear and Doubt
Of Life and Death Unfurled
Today it’s Here
The Time has Come
We are not Separate from this Earth
Not Separate from
~ Aaron Hoopes, 2011
We can get fuel from fruit, from that shrub by the roadside, or from apples, weeds, saw-dust - almost anything! There is fuel in every bit of vegetable matter that can be fermented. There is enough alcohol in one year's yield of a hectare of potatoes to drive the machinery necessary to cultivate the field for a hundred years. And it remains for someone to find out how this fuel can be produced commercially - better fuel at a cheaper price than we know now.