Does The Crisis in Japan Boost the Case for Nuclear Power?

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Ben Cohen
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George Monbiot certainly thinks so:

A crappy old plant with inadequate safety features was hit by a monster earthquake and a vast tsunami. The electricity supply failed, knocking out the cooling system. The reactors began to explode and melt down. The disaster exposed a familiar legacy of poor design and corner-cutting(1). Yet, as far as we know, no one has yet received a lethal dose of radiation.

Some greens have wildly exaggerated the dangers of radioactive pollution. For a clearer view, look at the graphic published by xkcd.com(2). It shows that the average total dose from the Three-Mile Island disaster for someone living within 10 miles of the plant was one 625th of the maximum yearly amount permitted for US radiation workers. This, in turn, is half of the lowest one-year dose clearly linked to an increased cancer risk, which, in its turn, is one 80th of an invariably fatal exposure. I’m not proposing complacency here. I am proposing perspective.

I think there needs to be a fairly long process of reflection after the disaster in Japan finally dies down, where governments around the world can soberly assess the dangers and advantages of nuclear power. I don't mind admitting that I jumped on the bandwagon in condemning nuclear power after the catastrophe in Japan, but Monbiot's lucid reasoning is difficult to argue with. Still, it is too soon to decide one way or the other, and some serious analysis will need to be done in order to move forward in an environmentally safe way.