Whether or not you believe that nuclear power is an appropriate energy source during the transition toward green, truly sustainable, technologies, it is hard to argue the serious risks incurred when we build or operate a reactor.
The infamous Chernobyl Disaster 25 years ago warned the world of the dangers associated with nuclear power. Not just a plant meltdown or the loss of jobs; but atomic radiation. The Chernobyl blast dealt a blow of radiation 400 times larger than the atomic bombing of Hiroshima! One might infer that a government’s negligence in establishing nuclear power is a human rights violation. Did the “fence-lined” communities of Chernobyl wave their rights to the nuclear attack?
Japan’s industrial model exemplifies both precision and meticulous care. According to Inhabitat, After the tragic March 11, 2011 earthquake off the coast of Sendai, which has now been confirmed at 9.0 in magnitude, zero buildings in Tokyo collapsed. Japanese production and architecture are praised and modeled the world over for their excellence and efficiency. So, with a power-house industry squaring up against an enormous tectonic plate collision, there was never a more appropriate time for nuclear power to prove that it can be a safe and reliable form of energy, even in the wake of a natural disaster.
The two explosions at power plants in Northeastern Japan, and the ensuing emissions of radiation, helped prove false the hypothesis that nuclear power can be effective, safe and ethical.
Our failure with nuclear power is a nice reminder of, whether or not we like to admit it, nature is in control. We cannot outsmart or disrespect her. We must learn to live with nature, obeying her laws, and reducing our impact. Thus, the question of “is nuclear power an appropriate technology?” should be adjusted to “how do we reduce our energy demand so that we do not need large scale reactors in the first place?”
Southern California residents have two nuclear plants in their proximity -- San Onofre Nuclear Generating Station in San Clemente (pictured above) and Diablo Canyon Nuclear Power Plant in San Luis Obispo County. It is up to us to advocate for change. Calling us mere voters on the issue would be a gross understatement -- these are WMDs right in our backyard!