One of the persistent propaganda myths about using nuclear energy is that hypothetical accidents that release radioactive material will have dire consequences that render vast areas of land uninhabitable for centuries. It is a good thing for wolves, deer, and boars that they cannot read antinuclear propaganda or watch television.
You see, we have done the experiment. We now have objective evidence of the worst that can happen after a nuclear reactor accident. The empirical results show that plants, animals, and even human beings that have not been carefully taught to be afraid of radiation can go on living and thriving, even in an area where an exposed nuclear reactor core suffered a damaging steam explosion that released large chunks of radioactive debris. That core then smoldered for ten days, releasing a major portion of the stored fission products to the surrounding area.
If you want to see the actual results, instead of being influenced by the drivel produced by antinuclear activists and printed by the New York Academy of Sciences, tune in to PBS’s Nature program on October 19, 2011 and watch Radioactive Wolves.
If you cannot wait until then to learn more about the effect that the radiation released by the Chernobyl accident has had on the natural environment in the surrounding area, I highly recommend reading Mary Mycio’s Wormwood Forest: A Natural History of Chernobyl.
I spoke with Ms. Mycio several years ago on The Atomic Show. She shared a fascinating tale of discovery that started with her being a strong opponent of the use of nuclear energy, especially after an accident at a nuclear plant had such a major impact on her ancestral home and on the lives of her relatives. After seeing the real effect on the area and talking with the still healthy people who refused to evacuate, her perception of the technology changed in important ways.
My hope is that this film will cause people to engage their critical thinking skills. Why were the people in the area near Chernobyl permanently relocated? Was there any danger of serious health effects? Why weren’t they allowed to return and recover their lives? Is it possible that the Soviet dependence on hard currency income from selling oil and natural gas to Europe played a role in the response actions and the publicity push to demonize nuclear energy in the West?
One of the cardinal rules of that effective propagandists follow is that they never believe their own propaganda. I find it enlightening to know that Russia has not only continued to operate the same Chernobyl-style RBMK reactors that have been forced to shut down in former client countries like Lithuania, but Russian leaders recently announced a decision to extend the lives of 11 of those reactors past their initial planned decommissioning dates.
Here is a comment that I posted on the Wall Street Journal article titled Russia to Extend Life of Aging Reactors regarding my interpretation of the reason why Russia has decided to keep operating the exact type of nuclear plants that they helped to convince everyone else to shut down.
The world’s energy business is intricately interwoven in complex and fascinating ways.
I wonder how many of the Germans who took to the streets to encourage their government to shut down 17 of the safest and most carefully maintained nuclear plants in the world realized that their efforts would result in life extensions for some of the least well designed and maintained nuclear plants in the world?
As the article stated, Russia would rather keep operating its own nuclear plants and sell its natural gas into the world market for hard currency. Without the German decision to shut down its nuclear plants, there would not have been as large a world market for that gas as there will be as German nuclear plants shut down prematurely.
However, since that large market will now exist, the Russians, some of the best mathematicians in the world, have figured out that they can better supply the demand if they do not need the gas themselves. That is why they have now decided to keep operating plants that they might otherwise have retired.
Publisher, Atomic Insights
There is one more question that I pray Radioactive Wolves will stimulate:
Why are people still being kept away from their homes in the Fukushima area of Japan?