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For Tipton, When Does "Reasonably Well" Become "Horribly Catastrophic"?

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Rep. Scott Tipton said in a radio interview last week that Japan's Fukushima nuclear reactors "held up reasonably well" after being struck by an earthquake and tsunami.

So they could have been flattened, yes. But did they really hold up reasonably well?

It's widely agreed now that the disaster caused a meltdown in three Fukushima reactors. Over ten thousand people were evacuated, and the fate of dozens of plant workers who experienced serious radiation exposure is unknown but of serious concern (at least three died). Elevated levels of radiation have been found in rice, beef, milk, spinach, and tea. Leaks of radioactive material to the ocean and land still threaten fish and wildlife. The reactors remain vulnerable to earthquakes, and cleanup is estimated to take 40 years.

In his Jan. 12 KVNF interview, Tipton wasn't asked how bad the Fukushima disaster needed to be in order for the reactors to move, in his view, from the "held-up-reasonably-well" category to the "collapsed-horribly-badly" category.

I called Tipton's office to find out, but I didn't get a call back.

Tipton made his comments about the world's second-worst nuclear accident in a discussion of a proposed uranium mill for western Colorado. Tipton supports the mill.

He argued on the radio that nuclear power shouldn't be held back due to the "big fear factor" caused by the Japanese disaster, which, he said, could be avoided if proper attention were paid to geography and safety.

"You know, as you go over into Europe, France is an example, there's an abundance of nuclear power plants that are providing reliable energy," Tipton told the KVNF audience. "The big fear factor, which we all understand, was after the tsunami in Japan. Those plants, for the most part, given multiple tragedies, earthquakes and tsunami coming in, held up reasonably well. We can't afford to have any sort of uranium leak, obviously. But we can design those plants with due consideration to where they're going to be put, in terms of the geography that's there, and to be able to provide reliable energy. I signed the letter in the State Legislature being supportive of the development of the [uranium] mill. When you get on the west end of Montrose County, these are good jobs. And again, we're taking advantage of new technology, new protective measures, that are able to be put in place to be able to do it in a proper fashion to be able protect all of our varied interests. So it's something I will be supportive of."