You can’t be too safe with nuclear energy

Published 10:53 am Tuesday, March 22, 2011

To say Natchez residents have a unique interest in and perspective on nuclear power is an understatement.

Nestled between two operating nuclear power stations — one an hour north of Natchez and another an hour south — makes our community an interested spectator of the unfolding nuclear crisis in Japan.

The likelihood that a similar disaster to the one that rocked northern Japan would happen here seems extremely remote, at best.

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Japan is a country that regularly experiences earthquakes and, literally, gave the world the word “tsunami” to describe the large waves produced by earthquakes and other subsea disturbances.

In Southwest Mississippi, earthquakes are certainly a rarity.

But the Japanese crisis does provide our community — and the nation — the reason to pause and consider the safety measures around nuclear energy.

Thus far the track record in the U.S. has been good.

In terms of human lives lost, coal mining and oil and gas drilling have proven far more deadly to the workers involved in their production than nuclear energy production.

However, it’s the threat of being harmed by invisible radiation associated with nuclear energy that gives many people fear.

Most of us know we’ll rarely be in a coal mine or on an oil rig in the gulf, but the notion that radiation might seep into our lives and harm us is enough to worry even the most calm among us.

When the current crisis has passed, we hope our nation — and the world — considers bolstering the already stringent nuclear regulations to help avoid another crisis in the future. By all accounts, our world needs the potent energy creating aspects of nuclear power, but we need to continue our excellent record of safety.