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← The world has forgotten the real victims of Fukushima

Reckless Monkey's Avatar Jump to comment 15 by Reckless Monkey

Nobody, to date, has died as a result of radiation leaks at Fukushima Dai-ichi. Zero – a number you will have read even less about than the 20,000 dead.

Yes this is true, and I have no doubt that nuclear reactors can be made that are safe. However his point about kind of misses the point that everyone around it had been washed away already. Those going to the plant after the Tsunami did so prepared for the potential radiation hazard and took reasonable steps. The engineers didn't plan the explosions that happened and they were lucky it wasn't worse or some other incident didn't cause the event when people where around or we'd be having a very different debate. Also worth noting is that much of the danger and therefore fear associated with radiation is not just the immediate risk but in the possibility of long term radiation for decades after the event which is hard to measure with certainty.

Also, exposure in the this case and in Chernobyl are not just short term consequences but also long term cancers which need a alarming number before they peak above the background level in Europe's case over the next 20 years it is supposed to be something like 900 000 additional deaths before they can be statistically certain it is due to that event. That's an awful lot of wriggle room.

The long term care is also an issue with nuclear power you build one and you are leaving it to many generations of politicians to come to all do the right thing, to not cut costs, to not ignore the need for good security and sensible policies. Until the fuel cycle can be dealt with in a reasonable amount of time (a decade or two) then I for one will not be comfortable. Fukushima is a classic case in point, to say it survived better than it has been designed to only tells me that humans cannot be trusted to judge in a seaside Earthquake zone that a Tsunami might exceed their expectations. That the cooling system require power that could be taken out by the same Tsunami makes the point also. This was not an engineering failure or a failure to understand the physics of nuclear energy it was a failure to understand that systems that are designed by, maintained by, regulated by humans are only as reliable as those humans involved.

Now how long does it take for the fuel to be safe? And how long has any human civilization lasted without war, massive corruption or massive incompetence? After the nuclear fuels are safe after the nuclear warheads made alongside the nuclear power programs in many nations are made safe then I'lll accept an analysis in terms of risk I hear in comparison to say coal accidents (most in the third world note. while proponents of nuclear power always defend the Chernobyl incident in terms that it was an outdated product of a backward nation). By the way I have never had a supporter of nuclear power give me a reasonable answer to this human factor - always the assumption is that humans will be sensible. So I would be interested in particular to see is there is an answer to this. Please I'd love to be proven wrong.

I recognise the need for a nuclear industry in terms of medicine, research and hopefully someday fusion power. But please, don't pretend there is no risk or nothing to be concerned with, Fukushima was a tragedy, but long after the damage to the tidal wave has been cleared up there will be legitimate concerns over the sense in building a nuclear power plant in this area. We can do nothing to control plate tectonics we can control where we build power stations and what types. And quite rightly other nations should be wondering what risks they haven't considered and wondering in an age when safer alternatives are quickly developing and getting cheaper what might in the long term be cheapest of all.

Tue, 21 Feb 2012 21:58:59 UTC | #920551