Volatile na­ture of nu­clear power ex­posed in Ja­pan

Townsville Bulletin - - Voice Of The North -

THERE’S has been a re­newed de­bate in Aus­tralia about the ad­vis­abil­ity of nu­clear power with sup­port­ers ar­gu­ing that it is a very safe and reg­u­lated in­dus­try now.

With the earth­quake in Ja­pan dam­ag­ing two nu­clear plants it is time to tell the other side of the story. On the eve of the 25th an­niver­sary of the Ch­er­nobyl nu­clear disas­ter, The Guardian re­ports the Ja­panese gov­ern­ment was warned long ago about the risks it faced in build­ing nu­clear re­ac­tors in an earth­quake zone. http:// www. guardian. co. uk/ world/ 2 0 1 1 / mar /12/ ja­pan-min­is­ters - ig­nored-warn­ings-nu­clear.

In 2007, Prof of Ur­ban Safety at Kobe Univer­sity and seis­mol­o­gist, Ishibashi Kat­suhiko, said specif­i­cally, ‘‘ that such an ac­ci­dent was highly likely to oc­cur. Nu­clear power plants in Ja­pan have a ‘ fun­da­men­tal vul­ner­a­bil­ity’ to ma­jor earth­quakes".

Ac­cord­ing to Kat­suhiko, the prob­lem is that Ja­pan be­gan build­ing up its atomic en­ergy sys­tem 40 years ago, when seis­mic ac­tiv­ity in the coun­try was com­par­a­tively low. This af­fected the de­signs of plants which were not built to ro­bust enough stan­dards, the seis­mol­o­gist ar­gues. Apart from a few tech­ni­cal is­sues, Ch­er­nobyl was ba­si­cally about hu­man er­ror.

The prob­lem in Ja­pan would seem to be about tech­ni­cal de­sign ex­cept that in 2002, the pres­i­dent of the coun­try’s largest power util­ity be­ing forced to re­sign af­ter he and other se­nior of­fi­cials were sus­pected of fal­si­fy­ing nu­clear plant safety records.

What are the lessons Aus­tralia can draw from the Ja­panese ex­pe­ri­ence? The line that the tech­nol­ogy is al­most fool­proof is re­vealed to be a fool­ish be­cause peo­ple with a vested in­ter­est will al­ways be tempted to cover up ac­ci­dents.

So there will be ac­ci­dents in stor­age of nu­clear waste; ac­ci­dents in ac­count­ing for all the plu­to­nium; ac­ci­dents in that the coun­tries we sell our ura­nium may not hon­our their non-pro­lif­er­a­tion agree­ments. And so on.

All in all nu­clear power is one big ac­ci­dent wait­ing to hap­pen.

JENNY STIR­LING, Qld Greens spokes­woman.

DAN­GER LURKS: The Okuma nu­clear power plant be­fore and af­ter an

ex­plo­sion brought on by the earth­quake

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from Australia

© PressReader. All rights reserved.