As an engineer, I have always been an advocate of nuclear power. As a teenager, I was going to be a nuclear engineer until I built a geiger counter for a science fair project. That hooked me on electrical engineering. But I have always felt fondness for nuclear engineering.
The problem is the 100 percent safety required of nuclear power. If something goes wrong, it takes decades if not centuries for the earth to heal, as Chernobyl survivors will attest.
Fukushima survivors are unfortunately duplicating the experience of Chernobyl. The Tōhoku earthquake of March 11, 2011 created a tsunami generating a chain-reaction of events leading to core meltdowns. It still is not under control. What have we learned from Fukushima documents there was equipment within 25 miles of the facility that could have prevented the core from meltdown after the power grid failure. There are parallels to the Deep Water Horizon oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico.
Today in the New York Times, the paper described the pain of the Japan's Nuclear Refugees, Still Stuck in Limbo. The facility is still leaking radioactive water, so the environmental healing has not begun. Some of the nearby villagers will visit their decaying homes for a few hours each week and endure the equivalent of two chest x-rays for that duration. Some will weed the sidewalks while others attempt to simply remember a happier life. Because of unattended repair of roofs, the ancient beams of their houses are rotting. They like the miles of forest around them, are simply becoming a radioactive carbon sink.
There is another parallel to Fukushima - our modern world's inability to fix a massive disaster such as Hurricane Sandy, Hurricane Katrina, or Chernobyl. It takes longer to rebuild than for the Americans to build the Panama Canal in 1904-1914. That puzzles me. Is it lack of will/compassion, or simply there is no margin left for today's world? In other words, nothing left in the tank for a disaster.