Saturday, 20 July 2013

The nuclear disaster at the Fukushima nuclear power station in Japan in 2011 came as a timely reminder that nuclear power and nuclear weapons are inherently unsafe.  Radiation escaped from Fukushima's four reactors, contaminating water, milk and crops all over the world.  Millions of gallons of highly radioactive water have been pumped back into the Pacific.  Contamination close to the minimum legal limit was found in drinking water in dozens of cities in the USA, as far apart as California to Massachusetts and Washington to Alabama.  Hawaii was severely affected.  In the town of Ibarak, south of Fukushima, radiation 300 times above normal levels were monitored (surveyors found up to 3.7 million becquerels per square meter – the abandonment standard used at Chernobyl was 1.48 million).

The National Council on radiation protection states "every single exposure to radiation produces an incremental increase in the risk of cancer", whilst in the U.S.A. the Environmental Protection Agency, the Nuclear Regulatory Commission, the Energy Department, the National Academy of Sciences and the Health and Human Services Organisation, all say "There is no safe dose of Radiation".

Japan limited its evacuation of people to within 12-18 miles radius of the stricken Fukushima plant, even though dangerous levels of caesium were found in a village 25 miles away, in amounts over twice the evacuation standards used at Chernobyl.  Independent analysts and scientists have called for broader and stricter limits on food and water use.  Time and time again we have seen the Nuclear Industry play down the extent of any problem.  In a Radiation emergency, as in War, the first casualty is truth.

The word Chernobyl has come to represent the deadly terrifying risks posed by nuclear power.  In 1986, Unit 4 at Chernobyl ran out of control, caused two giant explosions and burned for 40 days spreading radioactive contamination to every country in the Northern Hemisphere.  Here in Scotland, moving sheep to the market in some areas was banned for 15 years, and currently in Germany meat from wild boar is still classed as too dangerous to eat. At the time of the disaster, high levels of fallout were measured in Japan, 4,900 miles away, which shows that the spread of radiation has no boundaries.  "The 2005 United Nations Chernobyl Forum" projected 9,000 eventual deaths in Ukraine, Belarus and Russia. Since then the study has been lambasted and lampooned for not considering fatalities far beyond these republics. 

Only 7 million people live in the areas studied by the "Chernobyl Forum", whereas 600 million live in Western Europe and elsewhere, in which around two-thirds of Chernobyl's collective radioactive dose was deposited. Author Alexy Yablokov states "There is no reasonable explanation of the fact that the "Chernobyl Forum" completely neglected the consequences in other countries which received the bulk of the Chernobyl radionuclides".  In his book, published in 2009 after many years of research titled "Chernobyl, Consequences of the Catastrophe for People and the Environment", he estimates 985,000 deaths to date have already occurred.  An article published in 1998 in the UK magazine "The Doctor" said that at least 100,000 more deaths would occur in Eastern Europe than previously estimated.  This came to light following post mortems carried out on young people killed in traffic accidents, when previously undetected plutonium was found in their lungs.

Recently, Germany, the most industrialised country in Europe, where wind power makes a considerable contribution to its energy needs, is phasing out all its nuclear plants by 2020.  In Italy, Government plans to build 5 new nuclear plants have been dashed following a referendum which resulted in 90% of the public to be firmly opposed.  Whilst the Scottish Government will not allow the building of any nuclear plants on Scottish soil, I feel it is time for pressure to be put on the Westminster Government to hold a U.K. wide referendum on the issue.  

Ironically, whilst the Japanese Government has abandoned all plans to build any further nuclear facilities, the Westminster Government has asked Japan to build the next generation of nuclear power stations in the UK (having been refused by France, China, etc).

See also:  More blogs by John Jappy