Fukushima ‘crisis’ changed my mind on nuclear power
By MICHAEL RADCLIFFE
Like millions of other people in Japan, I watched the events of March 2011 unfurl with shock and trepidation. The massive earthquake, the terrible tsunami and then what seemed to be a dreadful nuclear disaster.
Yet now I wonder at my naivety, because the nuclear accident at the Fukushima No. 1 nuclear plant triggered in me a critical review of everything I thought I knew about radiation and nuclear power. I am now firmly pronuclear, and not despite the Fukushima accident, but because of it.
Let’s look objectively at what happened. There was a major earthquake, unprecedented in scale, followed by a 15-20-meter tsunami that flooded a large nuclear power plant. The equipment designed to provide power to the cooling systems in case of accident was flooded, and human error was also a factor. As a result, full or partial meltdown occurred in three separate reactors. It was pretty much a worst-case scenario.
Yet, not one person was killed by radiation, and nobody has been harmed, though two workmen, who have since been released from hospital, were reported to have received “radiation exposure to the legs.” Overall, not much of a “disaster,” especially compared to a genuine industrial catastrophe like Bhopal in India in 1984, where more than 10,000 people died and 500,000 were injured.
Some media sources were reporting the Fukushima accident to be the worst nuclear disaster since Chernobyl, if not ever. My response to that is to say, well, if that is the worst nuclear disaster ever, we should immediately start the construction of large numbers of new nuclear power plants.
Nor, according to mainstream science, are there likely to be any long-term health consequences due to radiation from Fukushima. In fact, a resident living anywhere in the prefecture, even within the evacuation zone, is likely to have received less radiation in 2011 than people living in areas of high natural background radiation around the world, such as parts of Iran and India. Yet those places have not reported any ill health effects; on the contrary, local hot springs in those areas, high in natural radiation, are frequented by tourists for their supposed health benefits.
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