Nuclear plantsIt gives me the willies to think about it, but it’s probably a good time for a hard look at our “backup” accident plans for nuclear power plants, now that we know how unbelievably unprepared the BP/Transocean/Halliburton Dream Team was for an accident on their Deepwater Horizon offshore drilling rig. I mean, BP’s worthless response plan involved protecting (Arctic) walruses in the Gulf of Mexico.

Our dirty-energy economy requires us to undertake lots of enormous, risky endeavors that we keep happily out of mind until something goes wrong. Few of us thought about the perils of drilling into deeper and deeper ocean beds until the last month. Few of us thought about coal-ash waste — the toxic sludge left over from coal-fired electricity generation — until a retaining wall broke and a pond of it poured out near Kingston, Tenn., 18 months ago.

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I hear from more people who say they’re concerened about the safety risks of factory meat and other industrialized food. But with this, too, we’re largely at the mercy of out-of-sight federal regulators with a lackluster record (see “ammonia burgers“). The BP gusher is proving — again — that safety regulators who are in hock to insanely lucrative industries aren’t going to do an adequate job of protecting us.

I’ve been happily clueless about backup plans for the nation’s 104 nuclear-power reactors (to say nothing of military sites). Now I’m realizing how foolish that is.

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