A Nuclear Meltdown Is Not A Natural Disaster

This post was written by Richard on March 14, 2011
Posted Under: Environment,Human Rights

I’m sure your thoughts are with Japan. If not, read now. The death count is unbearable, the initial Hollywood-style video footage has become merely a prelude to the suffering which is happening in its wake.

Reactor explosion at the Fukushima Daiichi plant

In Haiti last year, the earthquake brought with it artificial disasters: US imperialism. the squabbling cash divisions of NGOs, everything except real Haitian government. Now in Japan the natural, unchangeable series of events have been worsened by the Nuclear material artificially created and left in its path. The exploding reactors are not merely a part of the natural disaster, they are an avoidable exacerbation of suffering.

A friend of mine said to me earlier today “It’s times like this that I wish I hadn’t studied physics at University.” Most of us don’t understand what the effects to a nuclear disaster in Japan would be, but many who do are saying that this is worse than the Chernobyl disaster 25 years ago.

Nuclear power and weapons have not gone away, we have merely taken them out of public thought. And the horrors of nuclear material remain. This is the kind of disaster which has made so many of us oppose nuclear power even in the face of climate change, even in the face of those citing the clean, safe, responsible nature of modern nuclear technology. It’s only purpose is to secure short term profit, never mind the human cost it has levied for decades in Japan, Russia and beyond. It isn’t clean, and it isn’t safe.

If any good can come out of this disaster, maybe it is that we can finally end the absurd calls for increased nuclear power, and turn our backs on its foul technology, and overturn a politics which puts short-term profit over life itself.

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Reader Comments

julia

Quite right. Meanwhile the BBC has mysteriously dropped the story they featured last Friday about Rolls Royce being signed up to manufacture components for the first new nuclear reactors to be built in the UK since 1995 (http://www.rolls-royce.com/nuclear/news/2011/110311_areva_together.jsp)
Under the circumstances, half decent editors would have seen this as a big public interest story but as usual they are serving the interests of the spin doctors instead.

#1 
Written By julia on March 14th, 2011 @ 2:59 pm
Alasdair

Hrm, not sure I agree. Trying to compare a) crap ancient Soviet technology that wouldn’t be allowed in a modern regulatory environment and b) reactors that sit on the edge of an area that accounts for 90% of the world’s earthquakes with a modern nuclear powerstation in Britain (an area whose worst natural disaster is six inches of snow) doesn’t really fly.

There are problems with nuclear, sure. But the hysteria that surrounds it is unhealthy – and frankly, in the medium-term, the only other options are fossil fuel plants…which are probably worse for the environment.

#2 
Written By Alasdair on March 14th, 2011 @ 3:28 pm
Micke

Exploding reactors? This does not do your credibility any good.

#3 
Written By Micke on March 14th, 2011 @ 10:45 pm

@Micke – explosion of a building immediately next to the reactors due to hydrogen gas build up, possibly damaging the reactors. Is that better?

@Alistair – No, there isn’t a standard liberal or lefty reaction against nuclear atm, just a lot of people saying ‘well, I think nuclear’s the way forward, particularly compared to coal.’ You don’t need to pretend your voice is somehow a call of sanity. We all know that nuclear power is dangerous and expensive – and, given the amount of time it takes to get up and running, hardly a short-term solution for anything. If you care about climate change, raise the voice for decreasing energy use and manic over-production. And the old ‘the new technology’s better line’? It’s like saying this time, really really, the missiles will only hit buildings, not civilians. My point isn’t about faulty soviet technology, but the intrinsic idea of making radioactive material at all. It’s just stupid.

#4 
Written By Richard on March 14th, 2011 @ 11:07 pm
Caroline

Question What sort madness is this to build a nuclear reactor on a site where there is a possibility of earthquakes ? answer :capitalism

#5 
Written By Caroline on March 15th, 2011 @ 12:28 pm
Rupert

I will not dispute the questionable positioning of these reactors, given the local tectonic history. However, there is an unnecessary level of anti-nuclear spin in this article.

Although since this article was written, one of the reactors has been damaged, the disaster is still not classified by major international observers as being worse than Chernobyl, as suggested above. Granted, this is subject to change, but at the time of writing your piece was worse than reactionary, bordering on hysterical. Mentioning nuclear weapons in the same breath – something with patently the opposite intention to energy generation – is frankly immature and irresponsible, especially given the scale of the mitigation measures undertaken by the Japanese government and the designers of the plant.

#6 
Written By Rupert on March 15th, 2011 @ 1:21 pm
Caroline Taleb

Reply to Rupert: I think ‘questionable’ is putting it mildly, I think it is down right criminal and I think the planet would agree with me on this, apart from the nuclear lobby of course. Investment in green technology would go some way in sorting out the unemployment situation and tackle the recession by creating growth.

#7 
Written By Caroline Taleb on March 15th, 2011 @ 2:31 pm

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