Thursday, July 1, 2010

BP vs. Nuclear Industry-there is no comparison (Repost from Rod Adams)

A couple of key points that I thought really hit home from this post by Rod Adams from the Energy Collective:

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The situation in well-run nuclear energy production operations is far removed from that of an exploratory well drilled in deep water by a group of people who were driven by short term concerns about daily expenditures that totaled a few million dollars - at most. Of course, there are perpetual doubters who ask - how can we be certain that the operations will be well run, but those doubters need to understand that the Nuclear Regulatory Commission is a strong, independent and effective regulator that provides the suspenders that add a third layer of checking to the belt (INPO) and snug pants (careful design, effective quality control and trained operators) that the industry already provides to itself.

There is a lesson from the Deepwater Horizon that should be applied to nuclear energy; we need to continually remind ourselves of the importance of taking the long term view and refusing to go along with people who focus on short term profits produced by cutting costs without full recognition of the associated risks. Even with all of the existing processes and systems in place, eternal vigilance is needed to guard against human foibles like greed, even if those weaknesses find their way into the executive suite.

I cannot imagine how stupid the folks responsible for influencing and directly making the decisions on that drilling rig must feel as they watch tens of millions of dollars per day worth of oil spew out into uncontrolled areas. Not only is that revenue producing material failing to be captured, but it is causing billions of dollars of damage that their very large, well established and formerly profitable company is responsible for fixing.

I hope they keep asking themselves - what was our hurry? Why did we push so hard to cut so many corners and ignore so many warning signs that we were approaching dangerous territory? Was saving a million or two million dollars per day worth the damage that we did to a reservoir that was pretty obviously an "elephant" and to a region that was a paradise on earth for many of its inhabitants?

(By the way - in any kind of fair world, those decision makers who encouraged the cost cutting behavior would end up penniless and wiling away the rest of their lives in jail.)
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