No one seems too worried about multiple meltdowns at the Japanese nuclear facilities. In fact, the President recently announced billions in loan guarantees for new nuclear plants…$36 billion, if I’m not mistaken. Apparently, the US government considers nuclear to be an alternative source of energy.
There are 23 reactors in the U.S. that have the GE Mark I design like the six reactors at Fukushima. There have been reports of a GE engineers who resigned from GE in the seventies over the lack of safety in the Mark I design.
We have nuclear facilities near fault lines as well. Evacuating to a 50 mile radius around San Onofre nuclear facility in Southern California would involve seven million people. Wonder where in the world they would go and how they would get there.
We used to worry a lot about nuclear events and fallout during the Cold War and before we had so many nuclear power plants of our own. Back in college days I spent a summer working for the now defunct Office of Civil Defense (OCD) which reported then to the Defense Department. OCD was disbanded in around 1979 but was a precursor organization to FEMA. In the 60’s it was a big deal with a significant budget and lots of GS-15s to run the show. I worked in the print shop at their offices on a pier in Everett. Our print shop pumped out brochures and pamphlets about fallout shelters and emergency food stocks, evacuation routes, purification of water and radiation illness. Radiation and fallout were considered serious threats to the health of the nation. The suits who ran the place took it all very seriously. As a nineteen year old I couldn’t get too exercised about the threat and spent most of my time gazing out the window at the hundreds of seagulls who glided around the pier. I recall nothing specific about the material we published.
As the nuclear industry grew it wasn’t good business to harp about the dangers when we were building potentially radioactive facilities near population centers. The Office of Civil Defense fell out of favor and disappeared. It’s difficult to find anything about it on the internet.
Now there is talk again about plastic and duct tape, water and food supplies. We saw how fast the grocery shelves in parts of Japan were emptied. Because of the ready availability of food and consumer goods of all kinds most of us don’t think in terms of preparedness whether it be for storm, flood, tsunami, volcano, earthquake or meltdown.
It’s good to be a bit prepared for short term as well as long term problems. But it’s hard to shake the notion that we can just get in the car and run to the store to get what we need.
The island is trying to get organized for disaster preparedness. There’s a lot to think about and to try to accomplish. It will make it easier if each individual household has given it some thought and made preparations for what might come. There is no risk in having extra water and food on hand. No risk in owning an adequate first aid kit, in knowing how to shut down your neighbor’s propane and water. No risk in having an emergency radio or candles. Lots can be done very easily to insure that one’s family can be somewhat comfortable if bad things happen.