Thursday, March 24, 2011

Charles Perrow on the Fukushima Reactors

Picture: Smoke rising from the Fukushima Reactor in Japan

Below is a link to a piece written by Charles Perrow on the background and situation at the nuclear plants in Japan. It came through the Envirosoc listserver. He is an Emeritus Professor of Sociology and an expert on the sociology of risk.

He wrote "The Next Catastrophe" and "Normal Accidents: Living with High Risk Technologies". (Note: Now both on my list of books to read).

As I noted in a recent book, The Next Catastrophe (Princeton, 2011), we continue to populate our planet with systems that have catastrophic potential. We have vulnerable concentrations of populations, economic power, and hazardous materials. The most fearful concentrations of hazardous materials are in nuclear power plants.

We have yet to face up to the enormous risks of nuclear power plants. Japan is the current case in point. Known risks were run regarding earthquakes, plant layout, and engineering design, all assuming that the “worst case” event would be a rare outlier. I will take each in turn.
More here

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