Plutonium is NOT the most lethal substance known. Far from it. Killing everyone on the face of the earth with one poune of Plutonium is a crock. It is theoretically possible to kill everyone one the face of the earth with 20 gallons of water, a statement that makes as much as the one about Plutonium. In nuclear bomb testing, the USA and the old Soviet Union dispersed 12,000 pounds of Plutonium into the earth, the water, the air, everywhere.
Botulin is the most toxic lethal substance known, and it is common in nature produced by a bacterium. Dimethylmercury, which is man made, is readily absorbed through the skin even if you're wearing latex gloves.
Then there is Amanitin, Castor beans, English Nightshade, Hydrogen Sulphide, etc, etc, etc.
Plutonium is nowhere near the top of the list. Plutonium is an alpha emitter and a particular hazard to people only if a sufficient quantity is inhaled. Even then, it takes a long time to kill you by inducing cancer, such as decades, and chances are something else will get you first.
Concerning jobs, think of the jobs that nuclear construction or any construction would create. And, guess what, nuclear jobs are higher paying and require higher skill.
Plutonium, and for that matter Uranium and Thorium are very valuable and useful materials. Prior to making statements about things, some research would be a good idea.
They are all reasonable, but only for your life time. What you are essentially saying is that people that live a few hundred years from now don't really matter. I'm sure that isn't the case, but it is the result of burial. There have been interesting studies done on the storage in salt mines and they are seeing only a few hundred years of safety in that. The only long term safe method (over the life of plutonium) is disposal into space or something like that. The down side is that a rocket failure would undo the benefit very quickly. Make note of JKaplan's (above) reasons which hold true.
This is a classic example of poor engineering. In the service provider industry, we account for every possible situation when deploying a new product, because if you disrupt the service to the customers, you lose millions of dollars. But that's all that's at stake.
Here, not only is a billion dollar power plant, along with the power it produces at stake, but so are the lives of everyone around. And to hear they didn't even plan for a tsunami? It's unbelievable! All reactors need to be designed so that they can safely be shut down after loss of external power, taking into account the vulnerabilities of the secondary power supplies.
Fortunately, many nuclear plants meet these requirements - just not these ones. Like the disaster with BP, one company's poor decisions will negatively impact the entire industry.
I wondered the same thing, especially after reading this in the article:
"For every single nuclear reactor in the world, 50 percent of the risk comes from loss of power to the site. Reactors do not power themselves, but depend on external sources of electricity for their control rooms, pumps and other auxiliary equipment," said Olson.
Ok, a damaged plant needs to go offline and would then need to rely on external sources of electricity. But in normal operation, why doesn't the plant provide its own power? Why don't they have a step-down transformer that can produce standard AC mains voltage from that turbine generator? Then in the event of a widespread power outage, at least the plant could provide power to its own critical safety & control systems.
Self-powering capability might not have helped at Fukushima, since it sounds like they had to shut down all operating reactors. But what if one of them could've be kept online? It's ridiculous that coolant pumps would have no ability to tap into the output of an operating power station generator in the event that all other backups failed.
If it were only U235 that were fissioning, the reactor would cool down relative quickly. The insertion of control rods mostly stops the U235 fissioning. However, other radioactive elements are formed during reactor operation. Some of these have a half-live of a few days. The cooling is required while these decay. Once decayed, the reactor goes static after a few days.
There are several reasonable ways of dealing with spent fuel. Long term storage is one: Yucca mountain storage was stable enough in my opinion, and was only killed by politics. We should try to be rational about radiation, which is after all a natural phenomenon and manageable using well-known engineering techniques.
40 years doesn't seem like much of a track record, considering the enormous risks. Plutonium is the most lethal substance known -- just one pound is sufficient to kill every person on earth. Studies have shown that abundant power is available, with current technology, from Solar and Wind. The only real barrier is that it would take about 20 years, even if we started today, to replace our fossil fuel infrastructure. But think of jobs 20 years of Solar and Wind construction could create!!
Unfortunately, there is no "safe" storage for spent nuclear fuels, which remain dangerous for hundreds of thousands of years. The earth is still mostly a ball of molten rock and metal, despite the cooled crust on which we live. On a geological time frame, there simply is no part of the earth's crust stable enough to store the spent fuel.