Japan Earthquake and Tsunami Spur Global Debate on Nuclear Safety

Japan Earthquake and Tsunami Spur Global Debate on Nuclear Safety

Alisa Opar
Published: 03/15/2011
"The science says that we could see about five miles from the [San Onofre] plant an earthquake, perhaps equal to a magnitude 6.5, 6.6," said Gil Alexander of Southern California Edison. "So we designed the plant to exceed the maximum threat. It's designed to withstand a 7.0."
But the images of destruction from Japan suggest our best science may fall short when it comes to predicting the destructive power of nature. And experts say Japan's earthquake readiness has always been more rigorous, reports CBS News correspondent John Blackstone. "Nobody's ever prepared for this kind of earthquake, but compared to Japan, probably we're not nearly as prepared as Japan," Tom Heaton, an engineering seismologist at Cal Tech, told Blackstone.

On the bright side, as confidence in nuclear power wanes, we may see a shift toward renewable energy sources like solar and off-shore wind.
"Shares in renewable energy industries yesterday rose while most other energy stocks fell," Clare Brook, fund manager of leading green investment group, WHEB, in London, told the Guardian. "This tragedy comes on top of the oil price rise, the BP disaster in the Gulf of Mexico and unrest in the Middle East, all of which has made renewables more attractive. We would expect investment in renewables, especially solar, to increase. Nuclear has become politically unacceptable.”

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