Purdue Expert Defends Safety Of Japan Nuclear Reactors
Radiation Leaks Out After Explosions
Last Updated: 798 days ago
The head of Purdue University's radiation laboratories is defending the safety of Japan's nuclear reactors despite concerns after last week's earthquake and tsunami.Jere Jenkins oversees Indiana's only working nuclear reactor at Purdue which, although much smaller, works just like the power plants at risk in Japan, he told 6News' Myrt Price.The country's nuclear plants shut down after the earthquakes and the subsequent tsunami took out the backup diesel generators. Without any power, there was no water being brought in to cool the reactors, causing them to overheat."They had to pump seawater into their reactors. Seawater will work just as good. You know, water is water," Jenkins said, although he noted the corrosive saltwater will eventually ruin the reactors.Jenkins stressed that even if the plants did have a meltdown, there are several safety features in place, including the containment building equipped with 40 to 80 inches of reinforced concrete and a pressure vessel, which actually houses the reactors."Those are there to protect the public and the environment from the radioactivity that's within the reactor," he said.Explosions at Japan's plants, including one Monday, caused a breach in the pressure vessel and the containment building, allowing radiation to leak out."It's not lethal and it's something that can be managed, and as that rate continues to drop, they will be able to get in there and continue to clean up from this," Jenkins said.Despite the problems, Jenkins said he is convinced nuclear energy is still safe."Out of the 140 and something reactors that have operated in the U.S., no one has been killed or injured during the operation of the plants," he said.Jenkins stressed that the United States has backup systems for its generators. He also noted that the Chernobyl nuclear disaster involved a different type of reactor than is used here and in Japan.