Work teams were pulled away from the Fukushima Dai-ichi nuclear complex Wednesday morning due to heightened concerns about radiation levels. Later Wednesday, Yahoo! News reported workers were being prepared to go back in and continue the process of dousing the nuclear reactors with seawater in a desperate attempt to stabilize temperatures.
While the world watches to see exactly how successful these efforts will be, other nations that rely on nuclear power, contribute to the development of nuclear power or have been considering constructing new nuclear power facilities have started a dialogue.
In Germany, Chancellor Angela Merkel announced the temporary closure of seven separate nuclear power facilities, according to The Guardian. Merkel went on to relay that all power stations constructed prior to 1980 will remain offline until safety reviews were held. Undoubtedly these facilities will remain closed until Japan's battle with the Fukushima Dai-ichi complex has fully played out.
Germany is not a country plagued by earthquakes like Japan, but it is not immune to natural disasters. According to Bloomberg, in 2008 a winter storm cost German insurers approximately 137 million euros ($186 million) in windstorm, flood and hail damage. Japan could not have predicted that an earthquake would trigger a tsunami that would cause the problems at Fukushima; likewise, Germany cannot predict what a natural disaster would do to their aging nuclear facilities. The German people and the Chancellor are right to be concerned about the future and to go as far as labeling nuclear energy "dead." (The Guardian) As this mindset continues to cycle across many European nations, it may inspire new solutions to the ever-growing energy needs of the continent.
The nuclear reactors suffering in Japan may well have roots in Australia, according to David Noonan. Noonan told ABC Newcastle that 2,000 to 3,000 tons of uranium a year are sent from Australia to Japan through two companies and the export of it could easily be stopped due to safety concerns. The concerns Noonan expresses are entirely relatable for both residents of Australia and the United States. The disposal of nuclear waste and the level of disaster a nuclear facility inflict on a nation and the world is a cost not worth the benefit.
Here in the United States, Energy Secretary Steven Chu told a congressional panel that "Nuclear energy also has an important role to play in our energy portfolio" and affirmed that our plants remain safe, according to M&C. However, many lawmakers have begun to question the construction of new facilities until the full effects of the Japanese crisis are known.
Until the earthquake and tsunami created the potential for a nuclear meltdown In Japan, nuclear power was beginning to reemerge in the American psyche as safe. Accidents such as Three-Mile Island and the disaster at Chernobyl are distant memories for many and ancient history to others, but this moment in our present has opened a new discussion. Nuclear energy is labeled as safe and clean, but it is only safe and clean when everything goes according to plan.
If there is anything the past decade should have taught us, it is that life doesn't follow a script. We have seen 9/11 happen, Katrina, two devastating tsunamis, massive earthquakes in Haiti, Chile and the East and scores of other disasters. Natural disasters are disastrous enough without adding in man-made death and radiation poisoning. There are too many energy alternatives for our reliance on nuclear energy to increase. American lawmakers and the American people need to continue discussing these issues long after Fukushima falls from the headlines.
- nuclear reactors
- nuclear meltdown In Japan
- Angela Merkel
- Steven Chu