Quote Originally Posted by bridgman View Post
I live near one nuclear plant and drive past another on the way to work every day. For a while my circle of friends included a lot of folks working at both plants -- obviously Homer Simpson is not representative of nuclear power workers and I don't think he actually exists and works at a nuclear power plant, but he's not *that* far off from the worst people on the worst days. You can't eliminate the human factor -- question is whether you can build enough layers of checks and balances so that the worst case result is acceptable.

Fukushima was probably a pretty fair "worst case we're likely to see in a few lifetimes" as long as all the plant maintenance is no worse and the civil response plans and execution are equally good everywhere in the world -- do you believe that is the case ?
You need to understand the real and huge difference from Fukushima 1960s design gen ii nuclear reactor and a Westinghouse AP1000 (gen iii+).
AP1000 can shutdown safely and cooldown for 3 days without any power or any external water. It shutdown automatically if it looses electricity (eletromagnetic locks that close the control rods in case of loss of electricity).
In 3 days is just needs topping off a large water reserve tank, which can be accomplished with a 15hp water pump in a day or a fire fighter pumping car available for an hour. In a month its cool enough it needs no additional care to prevent overheating.
So new reactors are passively safe.

Then there is the final step to making nuclear fission really 99.9999999999% safe. It's shifting from high pressure water as coolant to something that is solid at ambient pressure and only becomes a liquid at temperatures like 400C (750F). Low pressure core + coolants that want to be a solid means even if the nuclear plant is blown to pieces (comet strike or military precision strike with a bunker buster bomb) radioactive materials won't go far perhaps no further than 100ft, and radioactive materials won't vaporize.
The molten salt reactor experiment (MSRE) done in the 60s/70s at ORNL showcased a reactor that was truly walk away safe, not just shutting down by itself like the AP1000, but needing no external power for cooldown and having FLiBe coolant (Lithium Fluoride + Berrylium Fluoride), so there was absolutely nothing that had to be done by the operators in case of an accident, operators where there for normal/slightly abnormal conditions, in case something happened serious enough they could just walk away without fear of being needed to perform any action.

So you see, even your friends that work at a nuclear plant are educated in the reactor they operate, they are very skilled to explain the risks of that technology, and they certainly understand far more about that reactor than I ever will. But I invested hundreds of hours of my personal time understanding nuclear technology at a broader level, and I'm convinced we need to get rid of all coal electricity with nuclear ASAP, even though I'm not a big fan of any water cooled reactor, although an AP1000 and similar competitors are more than so safe I would be fine living right at the outside perimeter of such a nuclear site (with only gen iii+ reactors).

And we need to take molten salt reactors seriously. The very little money spent on molten salts was cancelled because the political favorite was sodium fast breeder reactors. There is a very comprehensive video about this on youtube:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bbyr7jZOllI

There is even White House tapes showing how clearly President Nixon wanted Sodium Fast Breeders (and was willing to throw as many billions on that as desired, he clearly states he doesn't care about budget overruns). Then came Three Mile Island, and a coordinated missinformation offensive told the world nuclear was "nasty, wicked and evil" and was a bad idea, while in the meantime coal killed hundreds of thousands yearly worldwide, and TMI killed nobody.