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An anachronistic industry at its most dangerous.

Neil Angove | 16.03.2011 22:39 | Climate Chaos | Ecology | Energy Crisis | World

A short article on the practical and ethical failings of the modern nuclear industry provoked by redent events in Japan.

The smokescreens are back up after the latest nuclear catastrophe in Japan. 'Please go home.' 'There's nothing to see.' 'Everything is under control.' I've heard it all before from many different representatives of the nuclear industry back in the late nineties while an anti-nuclear campaigner in Bristol, England. The 'industry' only ever concedes to the mistakes it has to, and even then its dismissive justifications can be chilling.

It makes me think back to a member of the industry from the Ukraine speaking on the Chernobyl disaster, who referred to its long suffering victims as 'necessary statistics in a modern nuclear age'. 'Don't you just care about people?' was the reply from a Belarus based member of the public. But of course the question was rhetorical as it had already been answered by the callousness that had caused its reaction.

A clean, cheap and plentiful source of energy is often the contemporary argument. The excuses change with the ideological fashions of the times. We are dealing with an anachronistic industry long past its sell by date whose continuing existence is justified on cost effective environmental grounds.Nevermind the leakages, meltdowns, mass contaminations and the cancer rates well above average for residents all over the world with homes near nuclear power stations.

Have we learnt nothing? From Chernobyl in the Ukraine to Waterford in Connecticut to Fukishima in Japan, as long as we go on pretending that the price of nuclear energy is one worth paying we will continue to disregard the basic human rights of ordinary everyday people. One thing I learnt from my time campaigning against the nuclear industry and its defenders is that they are never more dangerous than when they are doing impressions of human beings.

Of course in bringing our attention back to the present disaster it's not just the stoic, brave and noble Japanese we must spare a thought for. The forces of nature are both precarious and unpredictable. The tsunami that caused the problems with the three reactors in Japan has demonstrated this. There are also potentially more complicated problems arising out of the initial disaster.

The leaked radioactivity could spread further a field to other countries if it hasn't done so already. And if we learn from the lessons of history it has shown that nuclear power itself is both precarious and unpredictable and that we cannot trust the secretive, dishonest and clandestine nuclear industry to be transparent and therefore keep we the public adequately informed.

If we put more finance into researching and developing ways of harnessing energy that avoided the consequences of nuclear energy, and put the people that use it first, we will have taken both a large practical and ethical step towards a cleaner, safer, kinder and more harmonious planet to live on. Yes it might not be as cost efficient and therefore leave us financially poorer. But surely we will be richer in the respect we have for our environment and others.

Neil Angove
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