Image: Natsumi Hayashi
Last week I found myself awake in the night. This isn't an unusual occurrence, I usually turn over and drowse a bit, eventually returning to my slumbers. Not last week however. It was little past midnight and I was suddenly wide awake. I have found it best to get up when that happens, read a book or surf the internet until I become drowsy. When my laptop had connected to the BBC news site there was a bulletin about the earthquake in Japan. 8.8 on the Richter Scale is huge. I knew something big was going down. I ultimately returned to bed, when I arose the TV was on and the story had begun to unfold. I then realized that the quake and tsunami had a far bigger impact than I had imagined. When I heard about the problems at the nuclear power plant, I was appalled.
We almost "lost" Detroit in 1966 when the Fermi 1 breeder reactor near the city malfunctioned when there was a loss of coolant. Three Mile Island reactor 2 had a core melt-down in 1979 (after a loss of coolant) that ended up costing nearly a billion dollars to clean up, although the radioactive concrete of the reactor building is still in place. The Chernobyl disaster in 1986 also occurred when the reactor lost coolant. After the Sendai earthquake and tsunami several Japanese reactors lost cooling in the reactor cores, the full extent of the damage is yet to be determined, events there are ongoing and may become even more catastrophic. All of these incidents were thought not to be possible.
Geologists estimate that Japan was displaced 8 feet in the earthquake.
Tens of thousands of people who survived the quake and tsunami may be displaced.
Any trust in nuclear engineering has been displaced as well.
My sleep patterns have returned to normal; there is only so much a person can do in the face of such colossal hubris.