As I write this on 25 March from Ottawa, two weeks since the earthquake and tsunami and the calamity that has befallen the Fukushima Nuclear Plant No 1, the situation has grown increasingly grave.Despite the heroic efforts of the “Nuclear Samurai” – the TEPCO employees who have selflessly and heroically fought to stabilize the reactors and restore power – there are worrying signs that signal dangerous instability continues to reign.
Among them, the announcement today that one of the reactor cores may have suffered a break that could have released large amounts of radiation at the plant; the widening of the exclusion zone to 30 kilometers ; and the US government ban on certain milk and vegetables from that area from importation.
In truth, as I say in this just-published CNN Opinion piece, nuclear power and its deleterious effects are a medical problem of vast dimensions — the greatest public health hazard the world will ever see.
Tragically, the “Nuclear Samurai” work for a company — TEPCO –that has been exposed as having ignored mandatory safety checks at Fukushima; as allowing spent fuel rods far in excess of the number that was deemed prudent to be stored on site; and as being evasive and unforthcoming about the real facts of the unfolding emergency
What we have also seen is a second tsunami of a different kind – a tidal wave of blow-back from the nuclear industry around the world, which has been rocked back on its heels by Fukushima but is now regrouping. There are claims that radiation is good for you; that nuclear power is still the only answer to global warming; and that fears about the safety of nuclear power are unwarranted and panic-stricken.
Let us be clear: there are billions and billions of dollars at stake for the nuclear industry, which has, as I’ve written earlier, managed to bamboozle governments around the world , much of the press, and many ordinary citizens into believing that nuclear power is green and clean. Nothing could be further from the truth. The industry will not walk away from that money without a fight.