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Fukushima Implications

Japan – A Game Changer For UK Nuclear Power?

Sometimes you have to wonder if there is an ironic and demonically mischievous deity out there. After the LibDems’ U-turn on the issue last May it seemed that with the exception of the SNP all the major parties had accepted the inevitability of a new generation of nuclear power stations in the UK  and it was only a matter of time before we started constructing.

Last night we tweeted our concern at anti-nuclear groups using the developing situation in Japan as a platform for their own agendas as we felt it was not the time. This morning we woke up to terrifying images of a huge explosion at the Fukushima plant. We desperately hope that the containment building has not been breached and that the radioactive leak reported turns out to be trivial – the next few hours will tell.

But even if the worst that happens is a messy clean-up operation, four men dead (as currently reported) and a small gap in Japan’s grid the damage to the nuclear industry worldwide is likely to be much greater. It won’t matter that the explosions and fires at the petrochemical refinery were worse, or that we will never experience an earthquake of that magnitude here; that short piece of film we all watched with horrified fascination this morning will be played over and over. The grim spectre of Three Mile Island has raised its head once more, and will shrivel the UK’s newly risen  nuclear aspirations in the same way it did over thirty years ago.

7 Responses to “Fukushima Implications”

  • rob trythall:

    This is asinine and spurious argument .

    Does the fact wind turbines DO go on fire, DO break up,collapse causing considerable damage
    sustain an argument against wind turbines?

    rgds

    • admin:

      If you think a burning wind turbine represents the same level of threat as a serious incident like this at a nuclear power plant then I would suggest that you are suffering from a certain lack of perspective. I think the 170,000 people currently evacuated from their homes in and around Fukushima would agree with us.

      • rob trythall:

        My “lack of perspective” embraces the perspective that this incident arises from a cooling water problem
        following a natural phenomenum , a tsunami .

        It does NOT mean there is an inherent problem with nuclear power.

        My perspective includes noting that the radiation leakage, so far, is less than the level of radiation one would
        have from a hospital Xray

        I have lived in Japan . I have every sympathy for Japan’s predicament .

        Japan’s building standards with regard to earthquakes are in a class of their own. Modern Japanese building structures
        ability to withstand earthquakes of this magnitude have been amply proven by this ‘quake . Manifestly the impact and damage from a tsunami requires fuller understanding and provision .

        rgds

  • admin:

    Rob,

    The tsunami may have been the trigger, but the proximate causes of the failures appear to have been a failure of mains power and a failure of the back-up generation system. There are many possible triggers for such a scenario – such as an aircraft crash – and you can be sure the media will drag these out to play with when real news is in short supply.

    There are currently 22 people being treated for radiation exposure. I don’t recall that happening to me last time I had a hospital X-ray. The US has moved one of its ships away after detecting radiation 100 miles offshore. I think trying to play down the incident at this moment in time is as bad as talking it up into a second Chernobyl – we can only watch and hope that the situation will be resolved with no further injury or damage.

    The purpose of this particular post was not in any event to criticise or defend nuclear power. It was to say that we think this will be a huge setback in terms of public opinion re. new nuclear plants in this country. I see Chris Huhne has already anticipated this by announcing yet another enquiry of some sort, but my prediction is that these events will play nicely into the hands of anti-nuclear campaigners in the UK and delay or stop the building of the next generation of nuclear power stations. The implications for the future development of renewables are obvious.

  • rob trythall:

    What are the obvious implications?

    All I can see is the imperative to have fossil fuel back-up

    CH ‘s anticipation may be because after his December Green Energy policy statement , the energy company’s immediate response was to lobby for 6 nuclear power stations !!!!

    rgds

  • admin:

    Obvious implications?

    New nuclear stations would have gone a long way towards meeting emissions targets. If the new nuclear programme doesn’t go ahead these reductions will have to be met some other way. We are left with energy efficiency measures and/or large scale renewables.

    In the short term I suspect that the SNP’s ‘no nuclear’ policy – which prior to Fukushima would probably not have featured on the radar – is now going to play well in May.

  • S Kerry:

    “It does NOT mean there is an inherent problem with nuclear power.”

    Do you really mean that? The whole point of this issue is that the reactor cores etc were supposedly safe from terrorist attack, aircraft/missile impact etc. This case, not the first, tends to demonstrate that the assurances have been based more on optimistic probability estimates rather than evidential reality. Is that an incorrect assumption?

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