Are our nuclear power obsessed politicians, industrialists and scientists willing to learn from the crisis in Japan? Or they need more disasters like Fukushima to realize their folly?
Scientists are still searching for a solution to control situation at Fukushima
It is already a month since the massive earthquake hit the north east of Japan triggering tsunami. Japanese have learnt to live with crises and they know how to rebuild from the scratch. However, this time the earthquake caused the nuclear accident that none had predicted. Despite the best possible use of technology, and the help extended by the nuclear experts worldwide to tackle the crisis, the situation has not come under control. It has become worse as large quantity of contaminated water is falling into the Pacific Ocean.
The Japanese authorities have admitted that nearly two lakh people who lived around the nuclear power plant but had to be evacuated for safety may not be able to return to their homes and farm. There are reports of radiation levels reaching Tokyo, creating panic among people. The country that was the first target of nuclear bomb is once again facing the threat of nuclear holocaust, this time due to malfunctioning of peaceful usage of nuclear power to meet its energy needs.
Initially, the IAEA (International Atomic Energy Agency) had stated that the disaster was not as serious as Chernobyl or Three Mile Island. It tried to allay fears about widespread radiation leak affecting large area. As custodian of world’s nuclear establishment, IAEA is trying to retain confidence in nuclear power, but it lacks transparency in its actions. As technicians did not succeed to control the disaster, the IAEA had to later accept that Fukushima disaster might be worse than Three Mile Island.
Whatever the nuclear experts or IAEA says, it is obvious that the Fukushima disaster has shaken the buoyant nuclear establishment all over the world. Germany and Switzerland have initiated efforts to review the ongoing nuclear programmes and have already halted construction of new nuclear plants. German Chancellor Angela Merkel said, “If highly skilled technological giants like Japan can not handle this crisis, how can we deal with it?” Seemingly Germans, who are no less capable on technology front, do have second thoughts on nuclear power.
Nevertheless, China and USA have confirmed their commitment to go ahead with nuclear energy. China has confirmed that it would build 40 new nuclear plants proposed in the country to meet the increasing energy needs of its people. But it suspended the permission given for building new power plants.
However, the Indian Prime Minister said that he would go ahead with plans to build more nuclear power plants, including the untested French reactor in Jaitapur in Maharashtra. The political commitment of leaders in democratic countries like India and USA as well as in the communist China confirms their preference for the risky technology even at the cost of safety of future generations. They have absolute faith in the power of technology to overcome unpredictable crisis in nuclear reactors.
Civilizations have come and gone but none created sites which are as dangerous as nuclear disaster sites. But the Industrial civilization within its short life span is determined to take the self-destructive path of nuclear power production, endangering the lives of millions of human beings and other life forms on earth.
The blast in Chernobyl was caused by human error, the Three Mile Island happened due to technical failure, but the tragedy in Japan is due to rare incident caused by massive earthquake. Even with stringent precautionary measures, there is every chance that an accident can happen in future due to any unpredictable reason. It is risky to believe that technology would address the problems caused by any such unforeseen factor. The plants at Fukushima had multiple systems of checks and balances to prevent the disaster. Despite this, accident happened. Even after month long efforts and best technological know-how, there is no solution in sight. The next disaster could be even more complicated.
The Fukushima accident is a warning for the human race to tread carefully regarding nuclear power, while keeping the interests of future generations in mind.The nuclear refugees evacuated after Fukushima accident may not be able to resettle their lives for years. The nuclear graveyard around Chernobyl is a stark reminder as to what is in store for these nuclear refugees in the long run. At Fukushima all the four nuclear reactors may have to be abandoned. But they will still be alive, emitting radio active substances for decades to come. Is the nuclear establishment willing to take responsibility to safeguard future generations? Will it calculate and pay all the costs?
It is unlikely that the modern man in his quest for more energy will learn from the legacy of nuclear pyramids posing dangers to coming generations and humanity. Civilizations have come and gone but none created sites which are as dangerous as nuclear disaster sites. But the Industrial civilization within its short life span is determined to take the self-destructive path of nuclear power production, endangering the lives of millions of human beings and other life forms on earth. No where in the history of mankind we find such short sighted measure that threatens the existence of human race.
Are our industrialists and scientists willing to learn from the writing on the wall? Or they need more disasters like Fukushima to realize their folly?
Disclaimer: The views expressed above are
personal and do not necessarily reflect the
views of d-sector editorial team.
Pandurang Hegde is a farmer, environmentalist and writer based in Sirsi town in Karnataka. He is well known for launching the Appiko movement which played a key role in protecting many forests from the axe in the Western Ghats region.
Other Articles by Pandurang Hegde in Physical Development
> Energy > Nuclear Energy
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