Prepare to be lied to
When i spoke with Paul Gunter from Beyond Nuclear on the phone on Saturday he was still hoping the worst kind of accident could be avoided at the stricken reactors in Japan. i was as well. As the 1st and 3rd reactors had hydrogen explosions, i listened carefully and was relieved that the pressure vessels of the reactor appeared unbreached. “Wouldn’t a core breach prove your many years of warnings correct?” a friend emailed me yesterday. Sure it would. But i have been to Kiev, i’ve spoken with survivors of Chernobyl. Being able to smugly say “i told you so” is little compensation for radiation poisoning.
Today, the pressure vessel on reactor 2 appears to have cracked open. This vaults the accident past Three Mile Island and just below Chernobyl as the second worst ever and we are not out of the woods yet. There will be releases of high level radiation and there will be cancer and other deaths from this accident. As i go to bed tonight, i am hoping the wind poisons the Sea of Japan instead of the people of Tokyo (tho the people clearly created this problem).
But the most frustrating part of this accident has already started unfolding. We will hear the well funded nuclear apologists (after the briefest of pauses) start talking about how the US designed GE reactors are completely different from the 23 in the country of the same design. How we need to replace old reactors with new “inherently safe” ones, to avoid these types of problems in the future. How our reactors built on earthquake fault lines are not subject to this type of problem. How we are never going to have an earthquake this big (while USGS says we are overdue for a big one in California). In other words the PR salespeople will start lying.
They have little choice really. First off, many of them have high paying jobs which require them to promote nuclear power. Secondly, many are true believers. They are convinced that no matter what happens, nuclear in the right hands (often theirs) is the best solution to the worlds energy woes.
The IAEA had a Chernobyl 25th anniversary planned to celebrate the long safe history of nuclear power. They might have to change the theme a bit. But you can be assured that they will not stop promoting new reactors everywhere. In hurricane paths, on fault lines, where the protests of local poor people are disregarded, wherever they can get them to site them.
My favorite piece of marketing is that all US nuclear construction companies are now owned by larger Japanese nuclear companies(both Westinghouse and GE). So if we buy more reactors in the US, we will be buying Japanese (or French) engineering.
These brilliant salespeople will try to convince skeptics that nothing can go wrong, and will be bold enough you to make you pay for the construction, years before new reactors come on line.
Fukushima is not the end of the Nuclear Renaissance (tho it will probably kill the program in Japan for years) it is the opening salvo in the battle for the hearts and minds of the electorate of the industrialized world. Dont be duped.