Jane Fonda and Unfounded Nuclear Hysteria

“Hey Jack look at this water level indicator, water level’s low.”
“This one says it’s high”
“But that’s…that’s impossible….”

Those of us fortunate enough to lift our heads above the jejune millennial waters, remember that horrific look that came crawling over Jack Lemmon’s character as he realized the chart recorder needle had been stuck and thus the control room team had been duped into inadvertently initiating a reactor meltdown, in the 1979 thriller The China Syndrome. Lemmon’s character, Jack Godell, then taps the recorder display and, to their abject terror, the needle begins to drop—they lowered the water level dangerously low based on a faulty reading. Alarm bells and lights begin to whirl, sweat breaks out along foreheads, Jane Fonda’s character watches nervously from behind protective glass as Godell phones the operations manager:

“This Jack Godell. We have a serious condition. You get everyone to safety areas and make sure they stay there.”

While only hypothetical terror contained inside the workings of Hollywood, the film played a large part in forming the dour opinion shared by a great many Americans on nuclear energy today—the Three Mile Island disaster just twelve days after the film’s release only amplified the country’s rapid turn against what was once believed to be Earth’s miracle answer to the our energy needs. By the early 80’s nuclear energy carried a dubious connotation in American dialogue as some sort of hulking beast suspended from its sinister potential by only the competence of a single operator. The benefits of such energy innovation were hurled into shadows by the more contagious idea that the word nuclear is synonymous with Armageddon, and our policies in decades since have followed naively predictable pursuits of similarity. It’s the cultural way—take speculation, bind it with the trimmings of hysteria, and stamp a title atop which reads Fact.

Unfortunately, sensational glossing does nothing to dissuade truth’s reality. In today’s political climate, where nuclear energy is on the chopping block of the New Green Deal’s guillotine, the hard truth of nuclear energy’s potential is obscured by the blinding call for alternative energies. Mainly we are talking about the championing of solar, wind, and hydro energy as our only path toward clean energy. This is not only wrong, it’s dangerously misinformed. If we wipe nuclear energy off the national register, as the New Green Deal suggests we do, and place all our hopes for a clean future in solar and wind, energies that are inherently dictated by the fickleness of nature, we run the very real risk of leveraging our future on faulty ideals. Our blindness to the slow capitulation of fossil fuels is the reason we now find ourselves hyperventilating over climate change—let’s not make the same mistake with nuclear energy.

Some brief acknowledgements:
– Nuclear power has the unique ability to product massive amounts of heat without smoke, i.e. air pollution
– As they create enormous amounts of energy, NPP’s do so with very little space relative to the approximately 450 x more space it would require an area of solar panels to generate the same energy signature
– The entire U.S. Nuclear Industry produces only 2,000 metric tons of waster per year, equivalent to a 12oz beer can for every citizen
– Nuclear energy has the potential to be renewable, as seen in new developments by several French NPP’s
– Though set up costs may initially be high, the actual running of a power plant is relatively cheap

Still, as often is the case in human history, the mind accepts only what it wants to. Logic is tested and weighed for its synergy with one’s already conceived beliefs. What challenges our assumptions is often confined to a cage as hostile—thus we have a national smorgasbord of information clinging to this truth or that, with no real way other than tedious inspection to tease out what’s true. What’s true about nuclear energy is also true of its dangers; the indelible damage resulting from a stuck needle in The China Syndrome is a very real possibility—but not an unpreventable one.

What if Godell and his plant managers had modernized with digital panel meters? Too expensive and time-consuming to lug through NEI 08-09 compliance? Impractical to expect a plant to close down for flat panel technology installations? What if the fictional Ventana plant had upgraded their water level indicators with Otek’s New Technology Meters or the cyber security compliant Solid State Analog Meter (SSAM)? Easily transfigurable to existing analog wiring, the NTM or SSAM models can replace obsolete analogs like the movie’s failed instruments, form, fit, and function in as streamlined a fashion as one by one or all together in a short, planned outage. Even the poor frazzled operators dashing around in ribbons of terrified sweat before Jane Fonda’s nervous eyes would need only minimal training with Otek technology.

Want more information on how the NTM and the SSAM can help your applications? Call us today at (520) 748-7900 or shoot our sales office an email at sales@otekcorp.com.

And just in case you’re wondering why the shrieking banshees behind the New Green Deal want to exterminate nuclear energy despite its clean and efficient potential…

“What makes you think they’re looking for a scapegoat?” Jack Godell asks his co-worker.