I think it is good to have contingent actions in case that the power plants blow up like those in Japan. Here in our country, Philippines, people are very cautious about the power plants that they do not operate it. Operating a power plant brings high risks and rewards.
There are at least two in California that are very close to the coast and near geological rift zones. Tsunamis are possible on that coast, too. And California is definitely an earthquake area. So, I guess you should be a little skeptic when people tell you it's all safe and sound.
Of course the nuclear power plants are build to manage earthquakes. But there is a really big quake pending on the San Andreas Fault. Possibly going to be as strong the 1906 Frisco quake. And I don't think that people can actually make any building safe to withstand a Richter-Scale-9 quake.
And then these power plants are never completely safe. Even without natural catastrophes. Humans can make mistakes. The complete-meltdown accident in Chernobyl, Ukraine 1986 where there are still several 100 square miles of completely uninhabitable area (and will remain for the next several thousand years) was due to human failure. The half-meltdown in Harrisburg/Three Mile Island in 1979 was, partly human misjudgment too.
The other problem is the radioactive waste. The stuff remains life-threatening for at least 20 thousand years and harmful for at least another 200 thousand years. There is no political structure on earth that can be guaranteed to still exist in 1000 years. There is no way to build any containment that will be guaranteed safe for 2000 years. No way. So we produce dangerous waste, and know no way to deposit it anywhere safe until it's harmless. If the cost for safe storage of that waste would be paid by the power plant owners and not by your great-grand-childrens taxes, the electricity would be so expensive that we all would start building windmills for electricity tomorrow...
but I'm still kinda confused .. if something goes wrong can we all die?
I saw a chart the other day that showed the number of mortalities caused by coal, oil and nuclear power (by comparison).
The most deaths have been from coal. Second most, from Oil. Third most, from Nuclear power.
As a result, well, even though we don't understand nuclear power as well as say, coal (very straightfoward, light it, it generates heat, which turns into electricity)....I think that some of the hype about the dangers of it has gone way overboard.
We should worry about every potential danger. The light water reactors we use now are ridiculous. They are expensive, complicated, and dangerous. The only way nuclear power is competitive with cheap fossil fuel is with government subsidies. During the cold war our government subsidized nuclear energy because they needed plutonium from spent fuel for nuclear weapons. Now that we no longer need more plutonium nuclear power is no longer cost effective.
As fossil fuels become more expensive nuclear will be more attractive. Freed of the need for plutonium much safer reactors are possible. Pebble bed reactors are more efficient than light water reactors and physically can not melt down. We have far more thorium than uranium. Reactors so far have used uranium because they produce plutonium as a byproduct. Thorium reactors also potentially are more efficient, safer, and produce a smaller amount of less dangerous nuclear waste.
Certainly no more light water uranium reactors should be built. Fossil fuels are still cheap enough that nuclear energy is too expensive but we should be actively developing new reactor designs for when fossil fuels become more costly.
I'd be worried about the safety of any nuclear plant anywhere. It is that worrying that makes them take steps to take away risks. When people are allowed to take advantage of a quiet town, the town is usually at risk. Make sure you voice your opinions and make sure that they are following regulations and make sure that regulations are suitable.
No don't worry they are kept much better. Also, everybody is starting to turn to environmentally friendly ways of getting power like solar and wind. So there will be less power plants.
What you SHOULD be worried is me getting radiation from the leakage. Hehe! It's possible...
If you are next to the power plant wen it blows up, yes. If you are within the radiated area or if you are hit by the fallout, you will only get cancer and your kids will be disabled (if you decide to have any later on) because the radiation destroys DNA in your reproduction cells.
Here are some details about the consequences of the Chernobyl disaster 1968: http://funadvice.com/r/14mu51d7r1s
It only killed some 1000 people directly, but it made several hundred square miles uninhabitable and it made thousands of people get cancer and destroyed the inheritable genetic makeup of a quarter of the Ukrainian people.
the amount of radiation that has reached the east coast of the us is small amounts that are pretty much harmless but the reason You hear so much about it is beacuase of things like the three mile island insodent and but you shouldnt be to worried about it because by the time you die you would normaly have 3 mrem but enless you are located in japan you shouldnt be to worried and fyi radiation can be some what treeted with iodine