Japan: whatever happened to the nuclear meltdown?
Last updated: March 21st, 2011
Amazing, isn’t it, what a little light military intervention can do to a nuclear crisis?
One minute, the world is facing nuclear meltdown armageddon to rank with – ooh, Three Mile Island at the very least, and quite possibly Chernobyl. A few (shockingly expensive) missile strikes over Benghazi and Tripoli later, though, and the Japanese nuclear crisis has all but vanished from the face of the earth.
Maybe we should start small wars more often. Or maybe – even better – the MSM could learn to start reporting on nuclear incidents like journalists instead of activists from Greenpeace and Friends of the Earth.
I’m with Lewis Page on this one. In the Register, he writes:
As one who earns his living in the media these days, I can only apologise on behalf of my profession for the unbelievable levels of fear and misinformation purveyed this week. I have never been so ashamed to call myself a journalist.
Page puts the Fukushima incident in its proper perspective:
The Fukushima reactors actually came through the quake with flying colours despite the fact that it was five times stronger than they had been built to withstand. Only with the following tsunami – again, bigger than the design allowed for – did problems develop, and these problems seem likely to end in insignificant consequences. The Nos 1, 2 and 3 reactors at Daiichi may never produce power again – though this is not certain – but the likelihood is that Nos 4, 5 and 6 will return to service behind a bigger tsunami barrier.
The lesson to learn here is that if your country is hit by a monster earthquake and tsunami, one of the safest places to be is at the local nuclear power plant. Other Japanese nuclear power plants in the quake-stricken area, in fact, are sheltering homeless refugees in their buildings – which are some of the few in the region left standing at all, let alone with heating, water and other amenities.
Nothing else in the quake-stricken area has come through anything like as well as the nuclear power stations, or with so little harm to the population. All other forms of infrastructure – transport, housing, industries – have failed the people in and around them comprehensively, leading to deaths most probably in the tens of thousands. Fires, explosions and tank/pipeline ruptures all across the region will have done incalculably more environmental damage, distributed hugely greater amounts of carcinogens than Fukushima Daiichi – which has so far emitted almost nothing but radioactive steam (which becomes non-radioactive within minutes of being generated).
And yet nobody will say after this: “don’t build roads; don’t build towns; don’t build ships or chemical plants or oil refineries or railways”. That would be ridiculous, of course, even though having all those things has actually led to terrible loss of life, destruction and pollution in the quake’s wake.
But far and away more ridiculously, a lot of people are already saying that Fukushima with its probable zero consequences means that no new nuclear power plants should ever be built again.
One of those ridiculous people is – inevitably – the noisome Energy Secretary Chris Huhne. In true Rahm Emanuel style he is using the perceived crisis as an excuse to push forward his anti-nuclear, eco-loon agenda. He claims:
“We can do the 80 per cent reduction in emissions by 2050 without new nuclear, but it will require a big effort on carbon capture and storage and renewables.”
If implemented this will most assuredly cause brown-outs and tremendous economic damage by the time the energy gap begins to widen in 2020. But since Huhne will no longer be in office then and since he is wealthy enough not to have to face the consequences of his political stupidity this is unlikely to bother him.
Another of those people is the Hon Sir Jonathon Porritt, who could be heard on BBC Radio 4’s Any Questions grandstanding about his opposition to nuclear and being given a free pass by Jonathan Dimbleby to spout his spurious eco-propaganda as if it were actually true. At one point, he actually claimed that wind farms did not cause noise disturbance. (Maybe, Sir Jonathan, I should give you the phone number of the poor Welsh chap who has been advised that he should now sleep with his windows shut at night to cut out the noise of the wind farm which has destroyed the value of his property and ruined his retirement).
One of the main objections raised about nuclear power is how incredibly expensive it is. There’s a reason for this: thanks to forty years of hysterical, dishonest propaganda from “Atomkraft Nein Danke” eco-activists like Porritt and Huhne, the bar for safety has been set to such impossibly high standards that it cannot compete economically with less heavily regulated industries such as oil, coal, gas – or indeed wind. I was pleased to hear Toby Young on Any Questions reiterating my point about the safety records of the nuclear and wind industries:
Nuclear fatalities in the last ten years: 7
Wind farm fatalities in the last ten years: 44.
In those ten years nuclear provided thirty times the energy of wind. This means in the last decade, nuclear has been around 200 times safer than wind on an energy produced/accidents basis.
And entirely unsurprised when the Hon Sir Jonathan Porritt, having pompously thanked Toby for raising the safety issue, chose to ignore the inconvenient truth of these statistics.
Let’s leave last word to this German astronomer and physicist, Dr Peter Heller, who has written a moving essay on how the scientific truth on nuclear power has been warped by political activism. (Hmm. Reminds me of another area of “science” which has been similarly distorted by scientists, politicians and activists with an agenda. Can anyone jog my memory?) (H/T Roddy Campbell)
So it fills me with sadness and anger on how the work of the above mentioned giants of physics is now being dragged through the mud, how the greatest scientific discoveries of the 20th century are being redefined and criminalized. The current debate in Germany is also a debate on freedom of research. The stigmatization and ostracism of nuclear energy, the demand for an immediate stop of its use, is also the demand for the end of its research and development. No job possibilities also means no students, which means no faculty, which then means the end of the growth of our knowledge. Stopping nuclear energy is nothing less than rejecting the legacy of Einstein, Heisenberg, Bohr and all others. It is tantamount to scrapping it, labelling it as dangerous – all in a fit of ignorance. And just as creationists attempt to ban the theory of evolution from the school books, it almost seems as if every factual and neutral explanation in Germany is now in the process of being deleted.
The media suggests a nuclear catastrophe, a mega-meltdown, and that the apocalypse has already begun. It is almost as if the 10,000 deaths in Japan were actually victims of nuclear energy, and not the earthquake or the tsunami. Here again one has to remind us that Fukushima was first hit by an unimaginable 9.0 earthquake and then by a massive 10-meter wave of water just an hour later. As a result, the facility no longer found itself in a highly technological area, but surrounded by a desert of rubble. All around the power plant the infrastructure, residential areas, traffic routes, energy and communication networks are simply no longer there. They were wiped out. Yet, after an entire week, the apocalypse still has not come to pass. Only relatively small amounts of radioactive materials have leaked out and have had only a local impact. If one considers the pure facts exclusively, i.e. only the things we really know, then it exposes the unfounded interpretations of scientific illiterates in the media. One can only arrive to one conclusion: This sorrowful state will remain so.