Journal Entry #_
Humans, Nukes and Risk Assessment: A Dangerous Mix
Kluger J. 2011 March 22. Humans, Nukes and Risk Assessment: A Dangerous Mix. Time.com
This article by Jeffrey Kluger addresses the safety of nuclear power in the aftermath of
the earthquake and tsunami in Japan.
Naturally, the difficulties faced by the Fukushima Daiichi
nuclear power plant in Japan caused many people to worry about the safety of nuclear power.
This article addresses some of these fears and what the Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC)
in the United States is doing about safety.
According to Kluger, the NRC is “set to vote on a 90-
day review of the health of America’s entire nuclear grid” (2011).
This review will allow the
NRC to determine whether any updates to plant safety need to be made, in light of the recent
tsunami in Japan.
Kluger also points out that it may not be a good idea to make sweeping
regulatory changes in a time of emergency, but that it is a good time “to examine some of your
bedrock assumptions” (2011).
The article makes a point that it is necessary to be cautious about
earthquake activity as it relates to nuclear safety, but also remember that the likelihood of some
nuclear disaster is small.
This article highlights a few important current issues in geology today, such as plate
tectonics, earthquakes, and energy resources.
However, it focuses mainly on energy.
world’s main sources of energy, fossil fuels, continue to dwindle, it is essential that alternative
energy sources are developed to replace them.
Since the 1950’s, nuclear power has been in the
discussion as an efficient energy source that could potentially replace fossil fuels.
many people, especially in the United States, have concerns about the safety of nuclear power.
Nuclear power seems to be an excellent alternative to fossil fuels because of its high
According to Marshak, one gram of nuclear fuel produces as much energy as 2.7
barrels of oil (2008).
That being said, nuclear power provides a promising amount of energy
with a smaller amount of input than fossil fuels.
Additionally, nuclear fuel does not give off
pollutants or carbon dioxide when used, resulting in a cleaner environment.
Currently, 20% of
the electrical power in the United States comes from nuclear power plants around the country
However, a number of potential problems are associated with the use of nuclear power.
Because unstable, radioactive materials are used to produce the nuclear energy, there is a risk of
nuclear meltdown and the spread of radiation.
With the tsunami in Japan causing problems at the
Fukushima Daiichi plant, these risks have become more real in the minds of many people.
radiation were to spread from a nuclear power plant, radiation sickness could kill countless
numbers of people.
As a result, the scare in Japan has revived many fears associated with
Although nuclear power is an efficient alternative energy source to fossil fuels,